Annapolis marches to victory in G3 Saranac
by Keith McCalmont
Bass Racing’s Kentucky homebred Annapolis made every pole a winning one in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for sophomores, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher and piloted by the Spa’s leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., the War Front bay led the compact field of four through splits of 25 seconds, 49.79 and 1:13.65 over the firm going before drawing off to a comfortable 5 1/2-length victory in a final time of 1:42.57. He returned $2.30 for a $2 win bet as the prohibitive favorite.
“You don’t take anything for granted,” Pletcher said. “We were just hoping for a clean trip and it looked like a race on paper that had no true pacesetter so we just kind of inherited the lead. It looked like he was travelling comfortably throughout.”
Ortiz, Jr., who notched his 48th win of the meet, said he rode with confidence.
"There wasn't too much speed in the race, so he controlled the race,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “He was nice and relaxed out there the whole time and was there when I asked him to go. He was the best horse in the race. That's a workout for him. He's pretty nice. He just got beat by some nice horses last time and came back today in great form and was there for me the whole time."
Joel Rosario took over riding duties from Hall of Famer Javier Castellano - who hurt his ankle one race prior - aboard Celestial City and utilized a ground-saving trip from third position to dead-heat for second with the Manny Franco-piloted Fuerteventura, who re-rallied down the lane after pressing through the final turn. Ethereal Road trailed throughout. Piqua was scratched.
Rosario said he was pleased with the effort from Celestial City, who entered from a close third in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on August 5 at the Spa.
"I threw on the silks and looked at the form for a second and then went," Rosario said. "He looked like he tried really hard, but like I said, it was tough to beat that horse. He went to the lead easily, we chased the whole time. He did his best and tried hard at the end."
Franco said the Jonathan Thomas-trained Fuerteventura found his second wind down the lane to secure a share of place honors.
"I think he’s a nice horse. He’s going to keep improving in his races," Franco said. "Jonathan does a great job with his horses. He’s got a good horse here.”
Annapolis captured the Grade 2 Pilgrim in October at Belmont Park to complete an undefeated juvenile campaign. He finished second in his seasonal debut over extremely soft going in the Grade 2 Penn Mile in June at Penn National before returning to winning form in the one-mile Manila on July 4 at Belmont.
Out of the Grade 2-winning Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, Annapolis entered from a game runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational, finishing 1 3/4-lengths back of Nations Pride.
Pletcher said Annapolis will now take on older horses for the first time in the Grade 1, $1 million Coolmore Turf Mile on October 8 at Keeneland which offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Breeders' Cup Mile.
“He’s shown up and run well in each start of his life. We just felt like he was a colt that carries plenty of condition,” Pletcher said. “We had thought about training up to the Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland, but decided he was doing great and probably a race in between would suit him.
“We [think highly of him] and feel like a mile might suit him perfectly and so we’ll see where we fit, but he’s a big, strong colt physically,” Pletcher added. “He seems like the type that would handle that step up in age."
Annapolis banked $110,000 in victory while improving his record to 6-4-2-0.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Saratoga with a 12-race card featuring the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway in Race 11. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present daily coverage and analysis of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official
wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race
of the summer meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is
available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.