Vequist breaks maiden in Spinaway (G1)
by Ryan Martin
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Swilcan Stables' Vequist tracked the pace in between horses in second, launched a bid around the far turn and powered home an emphatic 9 ½-length winner in making her first ever trip to the winner's circle in the 129th running of Sunday's Grade 1, $250,000 Spinaway at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Robert 'Butch' Reid, Jr., Vequist arrived at the historic seven-furlong event for juvenile fillies off a narrow runner-up finish in a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight event on July 29 at Parx, where Reid is primarily stabled.
Vequist hopped in the air at the break but recovered quickly under jockey Luis Saez, who angled her one path to the outside and into position as two-time Ohio-bred stakes winner Esplanade commanded the compact six-horse field through an opening quarter-mile of 22.41 seconds over the fast main track.
Around the far turn, Saez nudged his filly lightly and she moved her way up to even terms with the frontrunner through a half-mile in 44.87 seconds. By the quarter pole, Vequist was under an all out drive by Saez and she displayed an efficient response to his urging and opened up on the rest of field. Alone at the wire, Vequist powered home in a final time of 1:22.29 seconds. Esplanande held on for second, finishing 1 ½ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Lady Lilly.
Irish Constitution, Guana Cay and post time favorite Beautiful Memories completed the order of finish.
"The plan today was to try and follow the speed," Saez said. "There was a lot of speed in the race, so I wanted to break from there and find a good spot. Everything went so well, we broke, and we were right there. When we got to the three-eighths I had a lot of horse and when we came to the stretch she took off."
The win marked the ninth stakes victory of the meet for Saez.
"I feel lucky and glad to be here," said Saez, who piloted Global Campaign to a victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Woodward. "The horses have been running pretty well and I'm riding with a lot of confidence. I just try to do my best always."
The triumph gave 2016 Kentucky Derby winner and freshman sire Nyquist his first Grade 1 victory as a stallion. Bred in Kentucky by co-owner Swilican Stables, Vequist is out of the graded stakes placed Mineshaft mare Vero Amore.
Reid, Jr., who picked up his first Grade 1 victory since Poseidon's Warrior won the 2012 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at the Spa, said the decision to take a big leap up in class was based off of her forward training.
"It was more about the morning training than it was her first race," Reid, Jr. said. "We breezed her out of the gate one time and she was only supposed to go a half-mile but she went in 48 and just kept going 1:01, 1:13 and 1:26. Even though we ran her in that four and a half furlong race, it was more just getting a race under her belt. She was going to be looking for longer things down the road. You don't expect to win a Grade 1 with a maiden, but I knew the distance wasn't a problem."
Returning $15.20 for a $2 win bet, Vequist increased her earnings to $145,500 with a record of 2-1-1-0.
Live racing returns Monday with a 14-race card to close out the 40-day Saratoga summer meet highlighted by the Grade 1, $250,000 Runhappy Hopeful at seven furlongs for 2-year-olds; and the $85,000 Lure, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for older horses. First post is 11:30 a.m.
Live racing will then move to Belmont Park for the 27-day fall meet, featuring 38 stakes worth $5.58 million in purse money, that will kick off on Friday, September 18 and run through Sunday, November 1.