Saratoga Day 4, 7/23
The Bill Mott-trained Lunar Victory ran his winning streak on New York dirt to four with a 2 1/2-length win in the $100,000 Evan Shipman on Monday at Saratoga Race Course.
Bred in New York, Lunar Victory ran his first eight races with limited success over British grass. He came back to North America for owners Juddmonte Farms late last year and was 3-1-0 from four starts at Aqueduct.
He broke quickly with Johannesburg Smile and the pair distanced themselves from the rest of the five-horse field, more than nine lengths clear after a 46.85 half-mile. Lunar Victory then took control, under jockey Junior Alvarado, rounding into the stretch and ran off to the win, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of a rallying Sailmate. Johannesburg Smile salvaged third.
“Well, you always wonder about it. But I looked at the way the rest of them were going, and I thought he was still OK,” Mott said. “It looked like he was going to be able to put whatever pressure he needed to put on the horse on the lead whenever he wanted to. It looked like the others were so far back, I didn't see anybody making up any ground.”
“He broke really sharp, and I let him run the first part of the race,” Alvarado said. “From there, I was just waiting as much as I could. I didn't want to let him go too early, because he had a little bit of a layoff. At the quarter pole, he passed the other horse like it was nothing. Turning for home, I asked him for a little bit, and he responded to me. He did everything himself. Bill Mott had him really ready for me. He had plenty left, as well.”
That layoff goes back to his March 3 allowance win at Aqueduct.
Earlier Monday, the morning-line favorite for the Evan Shipman, Fiddlers Afleet, was scratched in favor of a different race later in the meet. Mineswept also scratched out, leaving five horses in the field of state-bred horses 3 and older. Lunar Victory covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:35.12 with Alvarado not asking for so much in the last sixteenth as he had a safe stretch of empty dirt behind him.