Daring Dancer wins G2 Lake George in final strides
By John Scheinman | 07/23/2014 06:41 PM ET
Trainer Graham Motion was nearing the completion of his journey Wednesday afternoon with a couple horses on a van from his base at the Fair Hill Training Center when the weather alert went off on the CB radio.
His talented 3-year-old filly Daring Dancer had only lost one time in four starts - on soft ground in the Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont - and he wanted a firm turf course for her run later in the day in the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake George at Saratoga Race Course.
Motion got the solid ground he wanted despite a brief shower, and Daring Dancer, a Sagamore Farm homebred did her part, unleashing a relentless rally in the stretch to collar A Little Bit Sassy and win a photo finish by a head.
The daughter of Empire Maker ran the 1 1/16-mile race in a swift 1:40.92. A Little Bit Sassy finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of pace-setter Daring Kathy, followed by Sweet Acclaim, Speed Seeker, Duff One and Little Journey.
"[Jockey] Alan [Garcia] said she never picked up the bridle [when fifth May 25 in the Wonder Again]," Motion said. "I honestly believe it had to be the soft ground. I was having kittens in the paddock here when it started to rain, because it held off all afternoon, but she was a different horse today."
Daring Dancer went off as the 3-1 favorite in the field of seven and paid $8.30 for a $2 win bet.
Motion's horse wasn't the only "daring" one. The filly's jockey, Alan Garcia, saved ground along the rail before shifting his mount out when rousing her with a left-handed whip and perfectly timing his finish, nailing A Little Bit Sassy on the wire.
Runner-up trainer Michael Matz shook hands with Motion in the winner's circle, gracious since A Little Bit Sassy looked like the winner before the photo finish was announced.
When the gate opened, Daring Kathy, a speedster up from Florida, took the field through a quarter-mile in 24.06 seconds and a half in 48.10 while A Little Bit Sassy tracked her on the outside.
At the far turn, jockey Luis Saez moved A Little Bit Sassy forward and then set her down at the top of the lane. Daring Kathy tried to resist while farther back Garcia cut loose Daring Dancer after the mile passed in a fast 1:34.83.
"That was a very close race," Garcia said. "Somebody had to win, [and] I was glad to win that race. She was comfortable all the way. Turning for home, I was looking for a hole, but I decided to move outside. She did it spectacularly."
With the $120,000 winner's purse, Daring Dancer increased her lifetime earnings to $230,580. Motion said he would strongly consider running back Daring Dancer in the Grade 2, $300,000 Knob Creek Lake Placid on August 16.