Lawyer Ron has had his ups and downs as a race horse and plenty of doubters. But that all may have changed in a little less than two minutes Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Despite starting from the far outside in the historic, $750,000 Whitney Handicap, Lawyer Ron established good running position down the backstretch. And when jockey John Velazquez pushed the button as the field turned for home, the 4-year-old son of Langfuhr left his 10 rivals in the upstate New York dust, winning off by 4 3/4 lengths.
Wanderin Boy was second with Diamond Stripes third. Magna Graduate, a 4-1 favorite, was caught in traffic and finished sixth.
The final time of 1:46.64 was a track record for 9 furlongs at Saratoga.
Lawyer Ron's original owner died in swimming pool accident during his Triple Crown preps last year and the colt went on to finish 12th in the Run For the Roses. He then had bone chips removed, won the first and possibly last running of the St. Louis Derby at Fairmount Park, then was switched from trainer Bob Holthus to Todd Pletcher and ran ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
This year, he is 3-for-5, finishing third in the Met Mile and second in the Salvator Mile Handicap.
"I really felt like this horse should be undefeated this year," Pletcher said. "He was unlucky in the Met Mile .... stuck down inside and had to make a wide move on a track that may not have been to his liking. At Monmouth last time, the track was just so crazy speed-biased, he ran a great race."
Under the new "Win and You're In" program, victory in the Whitney provides Lawyer Ron an automatic berth in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, Powered by Dodge, in October - back at Monmouth Park. "Obviously, we want to go to the Breeders' Cup Classic and we want to figure out the best way to do it," Pletcher said. That planning might include tacking another furlong onto Lawyer Ron's abilities since the colt has never won at the Classic's 1 1/4 miles.
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Classic:
-- Sunday, Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense returned to action for the first time since he finished second to Curlin by a head in the Preakness, ending any hope of a Triple Crown sweep. In the $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga, Street Sense sat well off the pace under Calvin Borel, picked things up when asked and rather easily went by C P West in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. C P West held second, with Sightseeing third and Cowtown Cat fourth. Street Sense, a Kentucky-bred colt by Street Cry, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.99. "It's great to have him back," Borel said. "He needed this race. It's really going to move him forward." Trainer Carl Nafzger said the Jim Dandy makes it, "One down, three to go," meaning the $1 million Travers on Aug. 25, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 30, and the Classic on Oct. 27. "I was concerned," the trainer admitted. "You're always concerned until you get out (of traffic). You don't know how much that can take out of your horse. Once he got out, he came on with his run. It was a good, solid prep to get him ready for the Travers."
-- Lewis Michael, the local favorite, drew off to a 4 3/4-lengths victory in Saturday's $300,000 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park. The 4-year-old Rahy colt, with E.T. Baird up, stalked the pace before taking command in the stretch run. Mustanfar was second and A.P. Arrow was third. The 1 3/16 miles took 1:55.17 over the artificial surface. Wayne Catalano trains Lewis Michael for Frank Calabrese -- the same team that campaigns his full sister, Dreaming of Anna. "Turning for home, I asked him and I accelerated," said Baird, who rode Lewis Michael for the first time. "I knew he was a nice horse but I didn't know he was that nice."
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Oct. 26-27 Breeders' Cup World Championships:
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
Passified saved ground through most of Saturday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Del Mar, then swung out at mid-stretch and wore down pace-setting Fleet Caroline to win by a 1/2 length. Spenditallbaby finished third and the favorite, Super Freaky, got home fifth. Passified, a British-bred daughter of Compton Place, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.15 under Mike Smith. "She is as genuine a filly as they come," said winning trainer Jim Cassidy. "Aside from her first race off the plane, she has never run a bad race. She's a very tough filly. I'm looking forward to the (Aug. 18 Del Mar) Oaks."
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- My Typhoon stalked the pace in Saturday's $500,000 Diana Stakes at Saratoga, surged to the lead when asked by jockey Eddie Castro and then held on well to win by 3/4 length over Argentina. The favorite, Makderah, rallied from mid-pack to finish third, another 1/2 length in arrears. My Typhoon, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Giant's Causeway, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.47. "Obviously, she has to stay healthy," said winning trainer Bill Mott. "But it's nice to have a ticket (to the Breeders' Cup). "This was the race we wanted to win. Everything else from here is gravy."
-- Sealy Hill rallied from the middle of the field to win Saturday's $250,000 (Canadian) Wonder Where Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine, near Toronto. Sealy Hill, an Ontario-bred daughter of Point Given, ran the 1 1/4 miles in her turf debut in 2:02.17 under Patrick Husbands. Saskawea was second, 2 1/4 lengths back, with Street Sounds third. Sealy Hill was disqualified from a victory in the Bison City for stretch interference. "Today was a day when I was going to keep her so far away from everybody," Husbands said. "I wanted to get her as relaxed as possible. When I got her outside, she was perfect." She now has five wins from nine starts and trainer Mark Casse said he is pointing toward the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in October. "If she were able to handle those, we might even think about Monmouth and the Breeders' Cup," he added. "If we could just get her to run straight, it would make me a lot happier."
$2 million Emirates Airline Distaff
Ginger Punch romped home to a 6-lengths victory in Saturday's $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap at Saratoga. After stalking the pace, the 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Awesome Again easily opened up when asked by jockey Rafael Bejarano. Miss Shop was best of the rest in a six-horse field and Teammate finished third. Ginger Punch ran the 9 furlongs in 1:49.19. The victory earned Ginger Punch an automatic berth in the Distaff but trainer Bobby Frankel wasn't counting any chickens. "The Breeders' Cup is a long way away," he said. "You have to keep them sound. Strawberries today, jam tomorrow. Hopefully, I can keep her the way she is now and I'm sure she'll run in the Breeders' Cup." Her sire won the Breeders' Cup Classsic in 1998.
$2 million TVG Sprint
-- In Summation trailed the pace in Sunday's $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar, picked it up turning for home and then surged between rivals to score by a nose over Greg's Gold. Bordonaro was third and the lukewarm favorite, E Z Warrior, finished eighth of nine after stumbling at the break. In Summation, shipped in from New York by trainer Christophe Clement, ran the 6 furlongs under Corey Nakatani in 1:11.06. "His style is to lay back off the pace and make a big run," said Jane Turner, assistant to Clement. "Actually, that's Christophe's style -- save something for the end. There was so much speed in the race that it set up for him."
-- Diabolical sat behind the early speed, then moved up to duel down the stretch with Attila's Storm in Saturday's $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap before winning by 1/2 length. Simon Pure was third. Diabolical, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Artax, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.67. Mario Pino rode for trainer Steve Klesaris. "You couldn't set up a better trip," said Pino. "He laid off those two horses ad Steve had him perfect. It was just a matter of when to move." Although Diabolical earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Klesaris was sounding cautious. "The long-term plan is critical," he said. "That's why we take it one race at a time." He said he is looking to the Vosburgh at Belmont Park on Sept. 30 as the next race.
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Ready's Image, the odds-on favorite after winning the Tremont Stakes at Belmont by 7 3/4 lengths, easily drew off in the stretch to win Thursday's $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga by 4 lengths. Tale of Ekati was second, a nose in front of The Roundhouse. Todd Pletcher trains the Ready's Image and Roundhouse. Ready's Image, with John Velazquez in the irons, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.9. His sire, More Than Ready, won the Sanford in 1999.
-- Georgie Boy, winless in two previous starts, charged past the leaders in the stretch run to win Wednesday's $125,000 Graduation Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar. My Redeemer was second, 3 lengths back, with Mix third. The favorite, Deputy Bertrando, faded to finish seventh. Georgie Boy, a gelded son of Tribal Rule, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:06.07 with Mike Smith aboard. The stewards ruled some bumping in the stretch didn't justify changing the order of finish. Trainer Kathy Walsh said blinkers have made the difference for Georgie Boy. "I like to let young horses find themselves before putting blinkers on," she said. "But he hasn't gotten speed crazy with the blinkers."
-- Lantana Mob took charge in the stretch run in Saturday's $60,000 Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park and drew off to a 1 1/2-length victory over Spanky Fischbein. Run Sally Run finished third. Lantana Mob, a Kentucky-bred colt by Posse, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.83. Stewart Elliot was up for trainer Steve Asmusssen.
-- In Sunday's $70,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park, Gold Coyote battled for the early lead, then drew off easily to win by 5 3/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. South Branch Storm was second and Possetothemax finished third. Gold Coyote, a Texas-bred gelding by Gold Legend, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:10.38 with Ramsey Zimmerman aboard.
-- High Appeal led virtually all the way to a 6-length win in Sunday's $60,000 Chenery Stakes at Colonial Downs. Big Wig, the even-money favorite, was second and Run Jickster Run finished third. High Appeal, a Florida-bred gelding by Songandaprayer, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.3 for jockey Julian Pimentel.
$2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies
-- Subtle Aly surged past pace-setting I Promise to take the lead in the stretch run in Wednesday's $100,000 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga, then just held on to win by a nose over that rival. Blitzing was third, another neck back, and favorite According to Plan finished fourth after breaking in the air. Subtle Aly, a Florida-bred daughter of French Envoy, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.06. Edgar Prado rode for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.
-- Sales Tax surged past pace-setting My Little Josie in the stretch run and went on to win Saturday's $60,000 Tippett Stakes at Colonial Downs by 2 lengths over that rival. Valin Time finished third. Sales Tax, a Maryland-bred filly by High Yield, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.22 under Malcolm Franklin.
-- At Lone Star Park in Texas, American Prize got through on the rail at the top of the stretch and went on to win Saturday's $70,000 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup Stakes by a head over the odds-on favorite, Valid Lily. Dill or No Dill finished third. American Prize, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Pure Prize, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.29 under Richard Eramia. She is trained by Steve Asmussen.
-- New York City Girl strolled down the lane to a 2 3/4-length victory in Sunday's $60,000 Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park. Expect the End was second and the favorite, Dubit, finished third. New York City Girl, a Florida-bred daughter of Forest Camp, got the 5 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:04.12 with Christopher De Carlo in the irons for trainer Todd Pletcher.
In other weekend racing:
Gouldings Glen swung widest of all into the stretch in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Chinese Cultural Centre Seagram's Cup Stakes, drawing clear at the end to win by 2 lengths over Palladio. Judiths Wild Rush was third. Gouldings Glen, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Charismatic, ran the 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather track in 1:43.73. Patrick Husbands was aboard for trainer Tony Reinstedler. Husbands said Reinstedler told him by phone before the race, "Everything is in your hands. Don't screw up."
Indy Wind pressed the pace in Saturday's $70,000 Skip Away Stakes, then drew off nicely in the stretch to win by 3 lengths over Touched by Madness. Too Many Toyz finished third. Indy Wind, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of A.P. Indy, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.33 under Mario Madrid.
Katerbug rallied five-wide into the lane to take the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Audubon Oaks and won by 1 length over Bel Air Beauty. Si Si Mon Ami finished third. Katerbug, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Pulpit, got the 1 1/16 mile on yielding turf in 1:45.46 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up.
Cherokee Country rallied nicely down the stretch to win Saturday's $55,000 Oh Say Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 length over Southwestern Heat. Vista Moon was third and West Coast Flier completed the order of finish. Cherokee Country, a Kentucky-bred colt by Yonaguska, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.93.
Wayzata Bay stalked the pace, racing wide, through the early furlongs of Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Handicap, then came between foes through the stretch run to win by a nose over Real Dandy. Sur Sandpit was just another nose back in third. The favorite, Like an Eagle, finished fourth. Wayzata Bay, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Roar, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.03 under jockey Carlos Montalva.
Test Boy had all the right answers in Saturday's $75,000 (Canadian) Don Fleming Handicap, rallying from last to win by 2 lengths over Trick of the North. Pickinontheolbanjo finished third at long odds. Test Boy, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Brahms, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.2 under Richey Walcott.
Beaulena saved ground early in Saturday's $45,000 Boeing Handicap for fillies and mares, angled out into the stretch and got past the early leaders nearing the wire, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Sudden Departure -- a good name for the Boeing Handicap -- ran second and She's All Silk was home third. Beaulena, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Beau Genius, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42 with Marcalo Rodriguez in the irons.
Sunday, The Great Face led all the way to a 2 3/4-length victory over entrymate Don'twritemeoff in the $75,000 Mount Ranier Handicap. Schoolin You was third. The Great Face, a 5-year-old, Washington-bred gelding by Cahill Road, out of Irish Toast, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:47.4.
Also Sunday, Wasserman came from last to win the $45,000 Governor's Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths over Norm's Nephew, with Diligent Prospect third. Wasserman, a 5-year-old, Washington-bred gelding by Cahill Road out of Share the Knight, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.2 under Jennifer Whittaker.
Palm Reader came between rivals into the stretch in Saturday's $60,000 Minnesota Derby for state-breds and was just up in time to beat the odds-on favorite, Sul Lago, by 3/4 length. Jagan finished third. Palm Reader, a son of Miswaki out of the Dactylographer mare Dactylogram, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:42.57 with Juan Rivera in the irons.
In the companion $60,000 Minnesota Oaks for Minnesota-breds, Run With Joy did just that, leading all the way to a 2-length victory over Sucara. Seasahm finished third. Run With Joy, a daughter of Ghazi out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled Joy, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:43.49 under Dean Butler.
Calder Race Course
Saturday was "Extreme Day" at Calder -- one of the most innovative promotions in sports since Bill Veeck was involved in baseball.
The World's Fastest Daily Double -- the third and fourth races -- was run simultaneously, with one race on the turf and the other on the main track and track announcer Bobby Neuman doing double duty. Ice Skating and King Anthony were the winners, returning a quick and tidy $32.40.
The Harrison Half was run at 1 mile, but offered exacta and win wagering based on where the horses were placed at the half mile and the finish. Keene Road was the answer to both questions. The Rocket Man Stakes, for 2-year-olds and up at 2 furlongs, went to 10-year-old Caller One.
A 2-mile marathon came off the turf and the King George's Wrong Way Stakes was run on the main track and the "right way" because of rain. Yet another event was limited to gray and roan horses.
Attendance was 6,552 despite the precipitation.