Nitrous, Hog Creek Hustle on course for Saratoga rematch

June 11, 2019 09:14am

David Fiske thinks Nitrous was a stride or two from scoring a Grade 1 victory Saturday at Belmont Park in the Woody Stephens Stakes.

“If it had been seven furlongs and 10 yards, I think he probably would’ve been the winner,” said Fiske, racing manager for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds.

Hog Creek Hustle beat the 3-year-old Steve Asmussen-trained Tapit son Nitrous by a neck Saturday in the seven-furlong dirt sprint.

A rematch between the two colts could take place Aug. 24 at Saratoga in the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial.

Fiske listed that seven-furlong dirt sprint, formerly known as the King’s Bishop, as a possible target for Nitrous. So too did Hog Creek Hustle trainer Vickie Foley for her horse, who is campaigned by Something Special Racing LLC.

“I believe a one-turn mile is his best race,” Foley said, “and he’s proven that.”

Hog Creek Hustle (19-1) and Nitrous (17-1) both broke in the Woody Stephens as longshots, with Gregg Sacco trainee Mind Control (7-2) the post-time favorite.

The duo ran at the back of the 11-horse field a half-mile in before making their moves in the final three furlongs.

Hog Creek Hustle, under jockey Corey Lanerie, closed hard around the far turn on the outside, squeezing Mind Control in the upper stretch as he sprinted to the front of the field.

With Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard, Nitrous followed Hog Creek Hustle’s outside path and accelerated toward the finish. He came up short by a neck.

Stewards raised a post-race inquiry to review whether Hog Creek Hustle interfered with Mind Control in the stretch run. They upheld the result but later handed Lanerie a suspension for causing interference that will span five racing days.

Nitrous took home a second-place finish. He’ll return to training with a potential rematch vs. Hog Creek Hustle looming at Saratoga.

“If the stewards in New York were the same stewards that are in Kentucky, (Nitrous) would’ve been the winner,” Fiske quipped, knowing all well what happened in this year's Kentucky Derby. “But anyway, that is what it is. You pay your money and you take your chances. …

“We were real pleased with him. I think he’s kind of figured out what his job is now. He’s kind of a late-running sprinter. The King’s Bishop would probably be on the schedule. And we’ll see what else pops up.”

Jennie Rees, head of Ellis Park publicity, contributed to this report.


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