by NYRA Press Office
Lee Pokoik's Sippican Harbor punched her ticket to the Breeders' Cup with a two-length upset in Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000, Spinaway for juvenile fillies at Saratoga Race Course.
Sippican Harbor may have broken her maiden in frontrunning fashion last time out, drawing off to win by an eye-catching 17 lengths on August 12, but her Spinaway victory came with a dramatic late run to give jockey Joel Rosario his second of three stakes on the day and trainer Gary Contessa his first Grade 1 since 1991.
The Orb filly was unhurried through the early going, settling near the back of pack as longshot Guacamole took the field of 12 through an opening quarter in 22.68 seconds and the half in 45.97 with Nonna Madeline and Catherinethegreat the closest in pursuit. Rosario remained patient aboard Sippican Harbor as the rest of the field began to draw away in the turn. He guided her wide into the stretch and she responded with a big late move in the middle of the stretch to secure her second career win.
Sent off at 16-1, Sippican Harbor returned $34 for a $2 win wager. The final time for seven furlongs was 1:23.72.
"We knew coming into this race that she was going to have to pass the acid test today," said Contessa, who saddled his second career Grade 1 winner and first since Do It With Style took the 1991 Ashland. "She beat up nobody in her last race and this time she had to beat up a lot of 'somebodys' and she delivered. She's a good filly. She's as good as we thought she was."
Restless Rider, winner of the Debutante on June 30 at Churchill Downs, was second, a neck ahead of longshot Cassies Dreamer in third, followed by Bella Ciao, Nonna Madeline, and Reflect. Even-money post-time favorite Chasing Yesterday, a half-sister to Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, was seventh, with Virginia Eloise, Catherinethegreat, Baby Nina, and Guacamole left to complete the order of finish. Love My Honey was scratched.
The $192,500 winner's share of the Spinaway purse improved Sippican Harbor's earnings to $242,650 from three career starts in addition to an all-fees-paid berth into the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2 at Churchill.
"Today's effort was unbelievable because this field was loaded with good horses today," said Contessa. "She ate dirt, I mean she's covered with dirt, she made that big move on the outside, a very impressive race. That's the kind of 2-year-old you want. One that is versatile, you can send her; she can be on the lead or you can take her back and come from last. She's got a great mind. You see what her mind is like in the stall. She is just the coolest horse in the world. She makes my job easy.
"Today she stamped herself. She's legit, so were looking forward to the Breeders' Cup. These are real horses, these are the best of the best," he added.