Saratoga notebook: Questing new star of backstretch
SARATOGA SPRINGS On Sunday morning, the Saratoga Race Course backstretch was still buzzing over the performance of Godolphin Racing’s Questing in Saturday’s Alabama.
She will likely start next in the Grade II Cotillion at Parx on Sept. 22.
She romped by nine lengths over In Lingerie in the Alabama, despite zigzagging twice inside the three-sixteenths pole.
“Since I’ve been training, that was one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever had,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It was like Questing went out in the morning, and went a mile and a quarter on her own.”
McLaughlin said he believes that the erratic path in the stretch was caused by Irad Ortiz Jr. using the whip.
He said future instructions would be to not hit her “unless you have to.”
Questing’s finish time was faster than the last 19 Travers, which will be held Saturday.
It’s a reference point that had people shaking their heads on Sunday, including assistant trainer Norm Casse, who sent Stealcase out for his final Travers work.
“The Travers is a wide-open race; I’m just glad they didn’t run Questing in it,” he said.
Jackson Bend continued to shake off the collision that sent him to the ground on the Oklahoma training track on Saturday morning.
He was in the middle of a routine gallop when Little Nick spooked and bolted into him from the entry gap.
Despite getting banged up, Jackson Bend could still make it to the Forego to defend his 2011 victory, trainer Nick Zito said.
“He’s doing good,” Zito said. “I was playing with him a little while ago. He was trying to bite people all morning. He had a lot of well-wishers. Rosie Napravnik came over to visit him, and he was trying to bite her.
“I’ll probably take him for a trail ride [today], and then we’ll see if toward the end of the week we can get him back to the track. It would be an amazing story, a miracle, if he could make the Forego. We never say never.”
WIN ONE, LOSE ONE
It took 28 starts at the meet, but Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas finally got off the schneid, winning the fifth race with the appropriately named Broken Spell, a 2-year-old filly by Broken Vow.
In so doing, Lukas denied Stonestreet Stables from staying undefeated.
Their filly, J’esprit, a daughter of Curlin trained by Mechanicville native Chad Brown, finished third, the first time in seven starts that Stonestreet hasn’t made it to the winner’s circle.
Today’s feature is the $100,000 Union Avenue for New York-bred fillies and mares 3 and up going six furlongs on the main track.
Risky Rachel is the 6-5 morning-line favorite off a pair of seconds, most recently to Beautiful But Blue in the Fleet Indian at Saratoga.
The 5-year-old mare won an allowance optional claiming race by 10 lengths at Saratoga last year and won a pair of races in the spring by a combined 111⁄4 lengths — the Broadway at Aqueduct and the Putthepowdertoit at Belmont Park.
The 2-1 second choice is the lightly raced Willet.
She’s making her stakes debut in her first start since December.
After finishing second by three-quarters of a length in her career debut at Saratoga last July, the 4-year-old daughter of Jump Start won three straight by a combined 271⁄2 lengths.
In the sixth race, a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf race with a $90,000 purse, Jimmy Simms is the 2-1
favorite in his first start since winning at Churchill Downs in May.
He was fifth, but only three lengths out of it, in the Grade I Frank Kilroe Mile in March.
The 7-year-old will face eight rivals who include Cozy Kitten, who is making his first start since banging heads in graded stakes company at the end of last year.
He was just 23⁄4 lengths behind Ultimate Eagle in finishing seventh in the Grade I Hollywood Derby in November.
The card also includes a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming race with a $90,000 purse in the ninth.
Of the nine entered, seven are stakes winners.
In a wide-open race, Little Drama is the 3-1 favorite off a second by a length to R King of the Road at Saratoga on Aug. 2.
Monmouth shipper Raging Six is 7-2, having hit the board in his last seven. He’s been beaten by a total of just over a length in his last three starts.
Also entered is Our Edge, who was eased in the 2009 Travers and won at Saratoga at odds of 37-1 in his last start, a six-furlong allowance.
Arch Traveler was third in the Grade II Woody Stephens, and fifth to Caleb’s Posse in the Amsterdam last year.
Saratoga Springs native Terri Pompay has a long shot, Zero Rate Policy, who tried the turf for the first time on July 21 at Saratoga, and finished up the track.
ON THE MEND
Zo Impressive was resting comfortably in her stall the day after suffering a condylar fracture in her right front leg running fourth behind in the Alabama.
Trainer Tom Albertrani said the gray daughter of Hard Spun will be sent this week to the Rood & Riddle Equine Center in Lexington, Ky., for surgery to repair the damage, after which a decision will be made on her racing future.
“She’s actually getting around the stall pretty good,” Albertrani told NYRA. “She’s just in a pressure bandage, right now. It’s amazing. She had a good night. She’s standing square in her stall, and she’s got her head out. She doesn’t seem stressed out at all about it.”