Stallwalkin' Dude captured Friday's $100,000 Tale of the Cat at Saratoga Race Course for the second straight year and spearheaded a one-two finish for David Jacobson.
Stallwalkin' Dude was last away after bobbling from his inside post and was allowed to settle into stride as Dads Caps and Lewys Vaporizer battled through fractions of 21.97 and 44.97 seconds. They were pressed by Big Guy Ian, while the Jacobson-trained Chief Lion patiently tracked those three from good position around the turn.
Chief Lion, the slight favorite at 7-2, rallied to take the lead into the stretch as Stallwalkin' Dude swung off the inside to launch his bid as well. Stallwalkin' Dude wrested command just inside the sixteenth pole and edged away by 1 ½ lengths beneath Joe Bravo, with Chief Lion clearly second best over third finisher Easy to Say. Viva Majorca was along to get fourth.
"As any real handicapper could see, the race set up very, very good for him," said Bravo. "All plans went out the window in the first jump when he stumbled. I guess he grabbed his quarter leaving the gate, but he's such an old pro, he relaxed, nothing fazed him. David gave me the best horse to play with today and he just ran them over, you know?"
Stallwalkin' Dude, who took last year's Tale of the Cat by a nose, ran six furlongs in 1:10.05 and paid $18.20 while notching his 15th career victory - and 11th since being claimed for $16,000 by Jacobson in September 2014.
The all-Jacobson exacta returned $104.
"He stumbled a little coming out of the gate," said Jacobson. "I didn't expect that since he usually breaks pretty good. But Joe got him together and other than that, he was in dead aim and ran down a really good horse. He's been a great horse for us and done an amazing job. The last two races were a little off. We tweaked him a little bit. He showed his true class. He obviously likes this track. To win the Tale of the Cat - or to win any race two times in a row at Saratoga - is an accomplishment."
The order of finish was completed by Big Guy Ian, Gorgeous Bird, No Hiding Place, Dads Caps and Lewys Vaporize.
Source: NYRA Communications (Dave Litfin)