“I think when a horse lays down all day, you just can’t beat that,” said Werner, the 48-year-old trainer known for his winning ways with young horses. “It’s a great characteristic.”
So when Run Away and Hide arrived in Werner’s barn in Kentucky this spring, the trainer was delighted when the two-year-old bay colt promptly stretched out in his stall for a lengthy nap.
Werner was even more delighted when the son of City Zip stepped on the racetrack for the first time in the morning.
“Well,” explained Werner, “he was just fast.”
Add precocious to laid-back and fast. On April 18 at Keeneland, breaking from the No. 11 post and wide throughout, Run Away and Hide ran off to a 3 ¼-length victory under Robby Albarado in his first start; a mere 13 days later he came from just off the pace to take the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs by 2 ½ lengths.
Thursday at Saratoga Race Course, a very well-rested Run Away and Hide takes the next step on what his connections hope will be a successful career path when he faces eight other juveniles in the 103rd running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special, a 6 1/2-furlong race that serves as a prep for the Grade 1, $250,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes on September 1.
“Robby expects good things of him, we both do,” said Werner, who bypassed the first of Saratoga’s famed juvenile stakes, the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes, after a sub-par work from Run Away and Hide here on July 19. “He’s got the mental attitude already. He’s very laid back. Usually that’s what we try to teach two-year-olds – to conserve their energy and use it when they need to. He does it on his own, so that’s a plus. He makes things easier for me.”
The wealthiest of the Special starters with earnings of $134,684, Run Away and Hide will be facing a talented group on Thursday including the Eoin Harty-trained Reynaldothewizard, purchased earlier this year by Zabeel Racing for $775,000 and a good-looking winner at Churchill Downs on July 2; the Steve Asmussen-trained Lyin’ Heart, second in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor on July 5; Proud Jefe, a stakes winner at Canterbury, and Join in the Dance, who won an off-the-turf sprint here on July 25 in front-running fashion in his first start for Todd Pletcher.
“He’s a high-energy horse and he came out of that race pretty well,” said Pletcher of Join in the Dance, who was second in his first two starts before his victory at the Spa, accomplished in 1:04 1/5. “Obviously, it’s going to be a big step up in competition. We have to see how good he is.”
Lyin’ Heart, who was off slowly but got up for place in the Bashford Manor, came from way back to take his first two starts at Lone Star while Reynaldothewizard also demonstrated the ability to rate, rallying from fourth to win by nearly five lengths.
Although Run Away and Hide’s sire is the sprinter City Zip, who in 2000 scored in all three juvenile stakes at the Spa, winning the Sanford and Saratoga Special before dead-heating with Yonaguska in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, Werner is hopeful the colt will stretch out in the coming months,
“City Zip was a sprinter, but he could get a mile,” said Werner, who trains Run Away and Hide for Ronald Kirk, John Bates and Michael Riordan. “The demeanor is important as you’re stretching them, as well. Run and gun … those are the kind that don’t get the distance. A horse that’s relaxed, that’s a good sign.
“Badge of Silver was one who could turn it on and turn it off -- he stayed and stretched his speed out,” added Werner. “He wasn’t quite as relaxed as this one, though. But you don’t know until he does it.”
The field for the 103rd running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special
PP Horse Weight Jockey Trainer
1 Run Away and Hide 122 Robby Albarado Ronny Werner
2 Dueling Alex 118 Ramon A. Dominguez Cam Gambolati
3 Proud Jefe 120 Edgar S. Prado Tom Amoss
4 Reynaldothewizard 118 Julien R. Leparoux Eoin Harty
5 Join in the Dance 118 John R. Velazquez Todd Pletcher
6 Break Water Edison 118 Alan Garcia John Kimmel
7 Lyin' Heart 122 Shaun Bridgmohan Steve Asmussen
8 Medaglia d'Onore 118 Kent J. Desormeaux Jamie Sanders
9 Unsung Song 118 Cornelio H. Velasquez Timothy Hamm