Star filly Guarana stretches, wins Coaching Club American Oaks

July 21, 2019 02:15pm
Star filly Guarana stretches, wins Coaching Club American Oaks
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

What looked like Guarana under pressure through the far turn Saturday at Saratoga amounted ultimately to patience by jockey Jose Ortiz. Once she was asked, the star filly sprinted away to win the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, postponed a day due to high heat along the East Coast.

In what was her two-turn debut and third start overall, Guarana didn’t win by the open margins she enjoyed in her first two starts, with victories first out by 14 3/4 lengths and then in Belmont Park’s Acorn (G1) by another six.

This time, Point of Honor closed from last in the field of five to finish a closer second after Guarana, a Three Chimneys homebred by Ghostzapper, went wire to wire in a final time of 1:49.65 in the 1 1/8-mile race.

"First time two turns against some really nice fillies in the race -- definitely some concern she could do it," said trainer Chad Brown. "We believed in her. She's been a brilliant horse all along. I'm happy she showed up for everyone today."

Point of Honor’s owners lodged an objection after Guarana drifted out in the stretch. But stewards didn’t change the running order with their filly mount too far back at the time to be impeded.

"She [Guarana] came out too quick and intimidated my horse," said Javier Castellano, who was aboard Point of Honor. "I did have to stop riding a little bit. She came out pretty far."

Behind Point of Honor, a length back at the wire, were Off Topic and Champagne Anyone. Boxwood rounded out the running order.

Champagne Anyone flanked Guarana through opening fractions of 24.27, 49.49 and 1:13.58. Through the turn, Off Topic ranged up to make it three wide before Ortiz shook up Guarana and those rallies stalled.

"With a horse so talented like her, you just don't want to get in trouble," Ortiz said. "It was a good thing to be on the lead. I was afraid because of the objection lodged by the owner, but she did overreact to the left-handed (whip). I got lucky she was clear."

Guarana, away at 1-5, returned $2.50 to win.

Next in Saratoga's series for 3-year-old distance fillies is the Aug. 17 Alabama (G1) that stretches to 1 1/4 miles.


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