Sage Valley returned to his winning ways on opening
day at Saratoga Race Course, rallying three
wide through the stretch and going onto a one-length victory over
Politicallycorrect in the Grade 3, $100,000 James Marvin, the first of
36 graded stakes at the historic track’s 150th anniversary meet.
Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez,
Valley stayed in midpack behind favored
Souper Speedy, who was hounded by Strapping Groom and Laurie’s Rocket
through an opening quarter-mile in 22.38 seconds and a half in 44.42.
With the pacesetters beginning to falter as they
as they rounded the turn into the stretch, Sage
Valley got the jump on Politicallycorrect to take command inside the eighth pole and crossed the wire in 1:22.49 for seven furlongs.
“Very, very perfect trip,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who claimed
Valley for $50,000 last February for owner
Michael Dubb. “Cornelio gave him a perfect ride. He's one of the best
riders in the country.”
It was the fifth victory in the last six starts for the 4-year-old
Sage Valley, who entered the James Marvin off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 RTN True North Handicap on June 8 at
Park. Prior to that, the Discreet Cat colt
had won four straight, including the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap on
May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, his first graded stakes victory.
“He’s a very classy horse,” said Rodriguez of Sage Valley, who is now 6-0-3 from 10 starts, with earnings of $305,200.
The 3-1 third choice in the field of six,
Valley returned $8.90 for a $2 win wager.
Hello Lover, who broke slowly, closed to finish third, a
half-length behind Politicallycorrect, with Souper Speedy, Strapping
Groom and Laurie’s Rocket completing the
order of finish.