Dunbar Road rolls in the slop to win Saratoga's Alabama Stakes

August 17, 2019 05:43pm
Dunbar Road rolls in the slop to win Saratoga's Alabama Stakes
Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

The trip did Dunbar Road no favors, but the Chad Brown-trained filly prevailed nonetheless in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, where she overcame a rail post position and slow fractions in the slop.

Off at 8-5 in the field of eight, Dunbar Road tracked Point of Honor, who given her breeding figured to relish the Alabama’s fairly unique 1 1/4-mile configuration, through the far turn. Into the stretch, jockey Jose Ortiz, navigated Dunbar Road out wide, and she burst by with a visibly strong turn of foot.

"I was hoping to go to the lead, but the other horses broke well too and I just had to sit into the first turn, but she relaxed really good," Ortiz said. "At the five-eighths pole, I started working my way out and followed Javier [Castellano] through the turn. It was a little wide but I didn't want to be a hero and try to split horses. I felt like I had a lot of horse.

"I felt like a winner from the five-eighths pole, the whole way home. She's special. We knew the mile and a quarter would help her."

The final time was 2:04.07 for the daughter of Quality Road, who’s campaigned by Peter Brant and made this her fourth win from five career starts. The $350,000 purchase’s only defeat came second out when stepped straight to Grade 2 company from a maiden victory.

Point of Honor stayed up over Street Band in a photo for second.

Horses went through a brief post parade and the race went off behind schedule after a late afternoon thunderstorm rolled through Saratoga, beginning a downpour midway through the Lake Placid Stakes (G2) decided in a dead heat between Varenka and Regal Glory on the turf.

Ulele and Champagne Anyone dueled on the pace, going in 24.14, 48.97 and 1:13.43 to open proceedings. Up the back stretch, the eventual 1-2 finishers, Dunbar Road and Point of Honor, ran alongside one another having only beaten longshot Afleet Destiny until they began to rally with a half mile to go in the classic distance feature at the Spa.

"She's not that experienced," Brant said of Dunbar Road, "and she just handled it."

With Dunbar Road and Guarana, the unbeaten Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) winner, Brown owns the nation's top 3-year-old fillies who will look to face older in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park.

The Alabama victory was a third straight for Ortiz, who flashed a corresponding number of fingers when crossing the wire, adding to his scores aboard Elate (2017) and Eskimo Kisses (2018). It marked the first win in this race for the New York native Brown, who will also aim for his first victory in Saratoga's signature race for sophomore colts, the Travers Stakes (G1), next weekend.

"Growing up here as a kid, the Travers and Alabama are the two big races," Brown said. "I'm just so happy it worked out. It was kind of a wild hour with the weather and such, but thankfully the horses got out there on a safe track and it worked out for us."


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