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Mike MacAdam's The Wire
by Mike MacAdam

The Wire

A Daily Gazette sports blog
News from the world of thoroughbred horse racing

Saratoga Day26, 8/18/12

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Questing staked her claim as the top 3-year-old filly in the country today by romping to a nine-length win in one of the fastest times in Alabama history at Saratoga Race Course.

Leading all the way, Godolphin Racing's Questing ran 2:01.29, the fastest Alabama time in 32 years, despite zigzagging in the stretch under 20-year-old Irad Ortiz Jr. well ahead of the competition.

In Lingerie was second, and even-money favorite Grace Hall faded on the second turn and finished 31 lengths back in fifth.

"I could not imagine this kind of margin of victory," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "I mean, these are very good fillies, and she just ran away from them. It's incredible, really. I thought she could win, but not the way she did it."

Ortiz showed no ill effects from having hurt his ankle on Friday during a gate mishap and getting thrown off his mount and tumbling across the turf in the sixth on Saturday, just over two hours before post time for the Alabama.

The 20-year-old from Puerto Rico has all three of his career Grade I victories at this meet, including Questing's CCA Oaks win on opening weekend.

They set very fast fractions all the way around the track and were so much the best in the field that Questing's antics at the three-sixteenths pole and eighth pole made no difference.

"Ohhh, she was waiting for the horses," Ortiz said. "She was playing. It's so funny, because I started riding, and she just was waiting, waiting, and she kept going the same pace ... wow. I never had a horse like that."

"As long as she's five in front, I'm not worried about it," McLaughlin said. "I think she's looking. She wasn't getting tired, she was just looking around."

Questing, a bay daughter of Hard Spun who began her career in England and began her 3-year-old season in the U.S. with two turf starts, has won her last three starts by a combined 17 lengths since being put back on the dirt.

Mother Goose winner Zo Impressive finished fourth, then was vanned off with a career-threatening broken right front cannon bone, which did not appear to be life-threatening, according to on-call veterinarian Dr. Celeste Kunz.

Prior to the Alabama, Point of Entry ran away from the field in the Grade I Sword Dancer to win by four lengths over Al Khali as the 7-5 favorite.

Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Point of Entry had to duck inside briefly at the half-mile pole when Newsdad took a bad step in front of him, but he nimbly adjusted to it.

"I didn't want to make a move before the quarter pole anyway, so it worked out," Velazquez said. "He was ready to go anytime I let him go. Incredible.”

Once Point of Entry had running room around pacesetter Turbo Compressor and others challenging for the lead, he took command and drew off at the eighth pole.

"When he found the seam at the quarter pole, it was over," Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said. I was very pleased with the trip."

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