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Breeders' Cup 2017

Lovely Syn, Saginaw Shine on NY Showcase Day

A pair of scintillating performances kicked off the first two of seven stakes on the inaugural Big Apple Showcase Day at Belmont Park, with undefeated Lovely Syn streaking to a 10 ¼ length victory in the $125,000 Bouwerie and the redoubtable Saginaw powering to his fourth straight win of the year in the $100,000 Affirmed Success Handicap.


Lovely Syn, ridden by Javier Castellano, popped out of the gate in front and never looked back as she blazed through an opening quarter-mile in 21.95 seconds and a half in 44.34. With Castellano sitting motionless, the 3-year-old Freud filly spun into the stretch with a 12-length advantage, and after three-quarters in 1:08.15 was geared down to hit the wire in 1:21.58 for seven furlongs.


“I’ve ridden a lot of good horses, but this one is amazing,” said Castellano of the Dominick Schettino-trained filly, who has won her four career starts by a combined margin of 28 ¾ lengths. “She’s a really good horse.”


The 1-4 favorite, Lovely Syn returned $2.50 for a $2 win wager and has now earned $202,200 for her owner and breeder, Joemar Racing Stables.


Saginaw, who was claimed for $30,000 on March 8, 2012 by David Jacobson and Drawing Away Stable, was boxed in along the rail until the top of the stretch. Gobbling up ground once clear, the 7-year-old gelding caught Fiddlers Afleet with a furlong to go and edged away for a half-length win.


Saginaw completed the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.39 under Junior Alvarado as he notched his 13th victory in 16 starts since being claimed, including last year’s inaugural Affirmed Success and seven other stakes. His 10 victories in 2012 were tied for the most in North America, and he was voted the New York-bred champion older male.


“It’s a very good accomplishment when you start hitting these kinds of numbers with a horse,” said Jacobson. “It’s exciting for us to have Saginaw going into Saratoga off a magnificent performance like this. They really had him boxed in there; they knew who the horse was to beat. He found a way. Like most great athletes, he has that instinct – he has to win.”


The 4-5 favorite, the bay son of Peruvian returned $3.40 for a $2 win bet, and pushed his bankroll to $914,690.


Amberjack, trained by Mike Hushion for Peachtree Stable, earned his second straight victory of 2013 when he came from off the pace to score a 1 ¾-length upset of favored Weekend Hideaway in the $125,000 Mike Lee, the first leg of the Big Apple Triple.


Ridden by Junior Alvarado, the 3-year-old Indygo Shiner colt settled behind fractions of 22.26 and 45.10 set by Hay Shares, was tipped three-wide heading into the stretch and came between rivals to take over from Weekend Hideaway with a sixteenth to go. His time for seven furlongs was 1:21.64.


“At the five-sixteenths, I started to pick it up because he’s a big horse and you have to start to kind of early with him,” said Alvarado of Amberjack, who returned $26.80. “I asked him, and he responded pretty well for me and kicked big there at the end.”


Hushion said the $150,000 New York Derby on July 20 at Finger Lakes, the next leg of the Big Apple Triple, likely would be the next start for Amberjack. The final race in the series is the $150,000 Albany on August 21 at Saratoga Race Course.


The first of two turf stakes went to the Brown-trained Shakeira, who kicked in through the stretch to take the $125,000 Mount Vernon for fillies and mares by a neck over Inimitable Romanee.


The 5-year-old Freud mare, claimed in 2011 by Michael Dubb, was well off the rail toward the back as Lady Candidate set early fractions of 24.25 and 48.44 over a firm turf course. Going five wide into the stretch, Shakeria caught up with Inimitable Romanee with a furlong to go and prevailed in the final strides.


It was her second victory in as many starts this year, having taken an optional claimer on April 20 at Aqueduct Racetrack.


“This filly has been a real pleasure to have in the barn,” said Brown of Shakeira, who completed a mile in 1:35.75 and returned $3.70 as the 4-5 favorite. “She’s so easy going and very easy to train. We freshened her over the winter, and she responded really well. [Owner] Michael Dubb and his partners deserve a lot of credit because I just kept her with me all winter at Palm Meadows. They went along with the plan.”


Clear Pasaj went wire-to-wire and held off a fast-closing Lady On the Run in the final yards to win the $100,000 Dancing Renee by a head. The 4-year-old Smoke Glacken filly was sent through fractions of 23.15, 45.90 and 1:09.98 by jockey Jose Ortiz, crossing the finish line in 1:22.60 for her first win after three straight second-place finishes.


“She broke good and put me in a very good position,” said Ortiz. “The No. 1 horse [Beautiful But Blue] put a little pressure on me early. My filly waited a little bit in the stretch, but when she felt the other horses coming she started running again.”


Trained by Bruce Levine for owner-breeder AnJes Farm, Clear Pasaj is now 5-5-0 from 13 career starts. Sent off at 4-1, she returned $10.40 for a $2 win bet.


In the afternoon’s most lucrative event, Readtheprospectus ran his winning streak to six as he took the lead in the stretch and went onto a 1 ¼-length victory in the $150,000 Commentator, giving jockey Junior Alvarado his third stakes win of the day.


Trained by Chad Brown, whose Shakeira earlier won the Mount Vernon, Readtheprospectus raced a few lengths behind Fox Rules as he led the field of six through fractions of 23.84 and 46.71. Moving up in tandem with Spa City Fever around the turn, he edged away from that rival through the stretch and completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.17. It was the first stakes win for Readtheprospectus, who is now 6-1-1 from nine starts for Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence.


“What a pleasant surprise he has been,” said Brown of the 4-year-old Read the Footnotes gelding, who returned $4.70 for a $2 win bet. “He’s always acted like a horse with some talent, and after his first couple of starts we started experimenting with him and learned that it was more about the distance than the surface. Here’s a horse who wants to run all day, and I think he can run on both surfaces effectively. He ended up on the dirt by default [in his fifth start] in a rainout situation, and we’ve just kept him on it. He’s not crazy about one turn, but he did great today.”


King Kreesa wrapped up the stakes action with a wire-to-wire victory in the $125,000 Kingston at a mile on the turf. With Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard, the 4-year-old King Cugat gelding set sensible fractions of 23.87 and 47.71 and had plenty left to turn back a late flurry from Kharafa for a 2 ¼-length victory.


Favored Lubash was another half-length back in third.


King Kreesa covered a mile in 1:33.99 as he notched his first win in three 2013 starts. The 3-1 second choice, he returned $8.60 for a $2 win bet and extended his career record to 4-3-2 from 13 starts for owners Gerald and Susan Kresa.


“This was a tough field today,” said trainer Jeremiah Englehart. “Those horses are going to be knocking heads all year. I’m sure we’re going to give them some wins, and, hopefully, they’ll give us one or two more.”




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