Wise Dan returns to win at Saratoga
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) Itsmyluckyday dueled with Moreno from the gate into deep stretch, surging in the shadow of the wire to win the Grade 1 $600,000 Woodward by a half-length Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden by Paco Lopez, the 4-year-old Itsmyluckyday ran 1 1/8 miles on the main track in 1:48.84 and paid $7.70, $3.70 and $3 as the 5-2 second choice in a field of nine older horses.
Lopez also won the Grade 2 Prioress aboard Stonetastic in the Grade 2 $300,000 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies.
''It's what racing's all about,'' winning trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. ''You could play this stretch drive to anybody, whether they're a racetrack fan or not, and they're going to recognize something special just happened.''
Moreno, the front-running winner of the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 2, returned $4.20 and $4. Prayer For Relief paid $6 to show.
New York-bred Zivo had his six-race win streak snapped, finishing fourth. Stephanoatsee, Last Gunfighter, Long River, Romansh and Norumbega completed the order of finish.
Trained by Plesa for Trilogy Stable and his wife, Laurie Plesa, Itsmyluckyday finished second behind Moreno in the Whitney. Fitted with blinkers for the first time, he outran Moreno to the wire and survived a claim of foul by jockey Junior Alvarado for interference in the stretch.
Second in the Preakness last year before being injured, Itsmyluckyday earned his first Grade 1 victory and increased his career purse winnings to $1,662,600.
Also, Wise Dan won the Grade 2 $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap, and Palace won the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego for older sprinters.
Wise Dan held off long-shot Optimizer by a nose. Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, the two-time reigning Horse of the Year returned to racing 15 weeks after emergency colic surgery. Favored at 4-5 in a field of nine older horses, Wise Dan ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.08 - 0.17 seconds off the main turf course record.
''He showed today why he is the two-time Horse of the Year,'' trainer Charles LoPresti said. ''He'll be way tougher next time.''
Bred and owned by Morton Fink, Wise Dan raced to his third victory in three starts this year and paid $3.60, $3.10 and $2.20. Wise Dan has 22 victories in 30 lifetime starts, and the $150,000 winner's share pushed his career earnings to $6,952,920.
Optimizer returned $14.60 and $8.20, and Five Iron paid $4.70 to show. Sayaad, Bio Pro, North Star Boy, Sky Blazer, Boisterous and Paris Vegas completed the order of finish.