Jim and Susan Hill's Daddy Is a Legend outkicked Altea in the stretch to earn her first stakes win of the year, capturing the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George for 3-year-old fillies on Opening Day of the 40-day summer meet at Saratoga Race Course Friday.
Along with Catherinethegreat, who won the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville one race earlier, the 23rd running of the Lake George capped the first two of 69 stakes in the meet worth a record $18.85 million at the Spa.
Daddy Is a Legend stayed off the early pace as Punked led the seven-horse field through early fractions of 23.92 seconds for a quarter-mile and the half in 47.71 on the firm Mellon turf.
Under jockey Manny Franco, Daddy Is a Legend saved ground on the backstretch and gained steadily until the far turn, where she overtook Goodthingstaketime from the inside before running neck-and-neck with Altea in the stretch.
Under urging from Franco's left-handed whip, Daddy Is a Legend gained separation and held on for a two-length win, completing the 1 1/16-mile course in 1:40.42.
"It is important [to save ground] and today, we got a good draw, so the main thing was to break good and get my position and wait," Franco said. "It worked out good.
"The main thing, [trainer] George [Weaver] told me to wait," he added. "He didn't want me to move too early, so I was trying to follow somebody that was going to keep going and that's what I did. I waited as long as I could and the inside opened so I just sent my filly and she was there for me."
Daddy Is a Legend won for the first time since the Grade 2 Jimmy Durante on November 25 at Del Mar to give Weaver his first win of the meet.
"More pace developed than I thought there was going to be, which sometimes happens when there's no pace in the race," Weaver said. "She was in a good spot, she got some cover and wasn't too far off the pace and she was ready to pounce whenever he wanted her to."
Off as the 8-5 favorite, Daddy Is a Legend paid $5.30 on a $2 win bet. The Scat Daddy filly improved her career earnings to $229,410.
"We wanted to run in the [Grade 1] Belmont Oaks [July 7] and she got a little bellyache getting close to it and it just wasn't going to happen," Weaver said. "This was a logical next spot to try. She looked great on paper going into the race. We felt good about the way she was training. I'm just glad she got a good trip, and it worked out for us.
"She's run well every start this year," he added. "It's just a really, really deep division and she's one of the better ones in it. We're hoping she can move forward and continue to do well the rest of the year."
The French-bred Altea, trained by Chad Brown, registered her best finish in four starts since arriving in North America from her native country, finishing 2 1/2 lengths in front of Goodthingstaketime in third.
Andina Del Sur, Heavenly Love, Going Out and Punked completed the order of finish. Nootka Sound, a main-track only entrant, was scratched.