Notacatbutallama an Absolute Animal in Hall of Fame Victory
By John Scheinman | 08/09/2013 06:24 PM ET
With back-to-back wins in turf stakes, trainer Todd Pletcher had begun to get the sense his colt Notacatbutallama was developing into a top-class grass runner.
On Friday, Notacatbutallama showed he liked the slop just fine, too, winning an off-the-turf running of the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, the Repole Stable-owned son of Harlan's Holiday came along the rail from fourth in a field of five to best North Slope by three quarters of a length.
Notacatbutallama completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.29 and paid $7.70 for a $2 win bet.
Two other Pletcher runners, Battier and Charming Kitten, finished third and fourth respectively, followed by Get in Line, who was coupled in an entry with Charming Kitten. Rydilluc and Balance the Books were scratched.
The win was the fifth in a stakes and sixth overall in Notacatbutallama's 12-race career.
When the gate opened, Get in Line set out to a two-length lead, getting the first quarter-mile in 24.92 seconds, while North Slope tracked the pace after going wide into the first turn.
Battier, a main track only entrant, was carried wide into the first turn by North Slope before also settling into a tracking run on the backstretch, while Notacatbutallama saved ground and raced just off the rail.
On the far turn, North Slope and Battier moved to the tiring leader, and they swung out in tandem into the stretch. North Slope briefly looked home, opening up by a length as Battier flattened out. Yet Notacatbutallama began to make up ground inside; he surged to even terms with North Slope at the sixteenth pole and scored under a strong drive by Velazquez.
"We felt like those three horses [Get in Line, North Slope and Battier] would show speed and we'd be in a spot behind them," Pletcher said. "He was in good position and when the rail came open, he came up the fence."
Notacatbutallama had run on a sloppy course before, finishing second last December in the Damon Runyon for New York-breds at Aqueduct.
"That gave us confidence," Pletcher said.
The winner's purse of $120,000 increased Notacatbutallama's lifetime bankroll to $488,334.