Despite Fairbanks’ recent slump – he had not won since taking the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita on March 31, 2007 – the Spa’s fans made him their favorite for two reasons: he was the lone, legitimate speed and, along with longshot stablemate Sam P., had a win over the track.
Fairbanks did not disappoint them.
It was the fifth win of his 17-race career. According to trainer Todd Pletcher, however, it seems doubtful that he will run back against 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin here in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward at nine furlongs on Saturday, August 30.
“This was a perfect opportunity for him,” said Pletcher, as Fairbanks returned $5.20 to win. “He carried his speed a long way. When he gets in command like that, he can be pretty tough. Richie (Migliore, jockey) rode a beautiful race. He has ridden him successfully in the past.
“I don’t think we will be coming back to the Woodward. We’ll have to see our options. It was just good to get a win under his belt.”
Migliore was more than delighted to be reunited with Fairbanks, as he is obviously a fan.
“He’s a neat little horse, and I really like him,” Migliore said. “He’s always run really well for me. Either that or I just get to ride him when he’s racing right. It has been a real long time for him (winning a race), but on his day, he’s a really good horse. The day he won the Tokyo City, he would have been tough for anybody to beat.
“Today, honestly, the way he did things, he was given a lot of good horses to run (with). If you take out Curlin, he would give any horse on the second tier a run for their money. I was really confident and he was traveling well. The track was holding pretty fast today. He has trouble running the turns, but when he took the last turn well, I let him out a notch. And that was comforting, that he was running the turns strong.”
Angliana nosed Magna Graduate for the place. Star Plus (ARG), Sam P., Deputy Indy and Saratoga Lulaby completed the order of finish.
Eternal Star Earns A Shot In The Forego
James Barry and Vincent Papandrea’s Eternal Star and jockey Ramon Dominguez took the initiative in Saturday afternoon’s $102,500 James Marvin for three-year-olds and up at six furlongs, and it paid off with a neck victory over Bold Start in 1:08.79.
Trained by Michael Trombetta, the 4-year-old son of 2001 Alfred G. Vanderbilt winner Five Star Day was sent to the lead after he was hooked early by Brilliant Son through an opening quarter of a mile of 22.51 and the half of 44.79 on the fast main track.
“I didn’t expect him to be on the front,” said Trombetta, whose charge returned $6.90. “He might have been a little close, but nobody was in a tremendous hurry. So, Ramon thought it proper to jump on top and go ahead and go. And it wasn’t a crazy first quarter – 22 and change.”
Bold Star, ridden by Mike Luzzi, made a strong late run, but Eternal Star held on for his eighth win in 14 career starts.
“I really felt like I just had the best horse in the race,” Dominguez said. “Mike (Trombetta) said to me, `Play it by ear.’ He broke slow. The 4-horse (Brilliant Son) was close, and we were going a little quicker, but my horse was comfortable. He went to the lead, and I said, `You know what? I am in a good position and I don’t want to be fighting him.’ At this point, I just took hold and he ran real hard.”
Eternal Star ran hard enough to earn a shot in the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego for three-year-olds and up at seven furlongs here on Saturday, August 30, where he will face a tough field that will include Lucky Island.
“I think he is deserving of a shot in the Forego,” Trombetta said. “I can relax a little bit at seven-eighths; but obviously, that is a super test for him; it’s a different kind of horse. Now that we’ve run over the track, and if he’s well, we’ll be there.”
Brilliant Son held off Noonmark by a neck to get the show, while Most Distinguished and Tsali trailed. Callmetony was scratched.
Arboleda Makes Right Move In Northup
Jockey Aldo Arboleda made a decisive move aboard August Forever Stable’s Dr. D. F. C. on the turn to gain position, and turned it into his first Spa victory -- a one-length win over Stud Muffin in the $102,750 Solomon Northup for three-year-old New York-breds at nine furlongs.
Saving ground in last behind Building New Era’ pace of 23.30, 47.14 and 1:11.33, Arboleda tipped his horse to the outside coming off the final turn to take aim at the leader.
He brushed lightly with Tommasi and jockey Mike Luzzi, surged between horses and went on to the win in 1:50.57. Luzzi, who finished third, claimed foul, but it was disallowed.
“I knew I didn’t do anything,” Arboleda said. “I knew I was clear. I saw the opening and I went through it.”
Dr. D.F.C., who returned $18, was also the first Saratoga winner for trainer Rodrigo Ubillo. A 5-year-old son of Personal Flag, Dr. D.F.C. has now won four of 19 starts.
“This is a good feeling to get my first win at Saratoga,” Ubillo said. “The key here was keeping him focused and relaxed, the way he likes it. The jockey did a nice job. He made that powerful move the last time, but he fell short. He was 12 lengths out of it in that last race, and wound up less than two lengths behind the winner. He handled the track that day, but he didn’t break well. He had a couple of issues with tendons, but it was nothing serious. The owners were nice to give him time, and luckily, everything is working out so far.”
Stunt Man was fourth, followed by Building New Era, French Transition and Tergesti.
Optimistic Steve was scratched.
Ariege Makes Successful Transition Back to Grass
IEAH Stable and Pegasus Holdings Group Stables’ Ariege recorded her first victory on an American grass course Saturday afternoon as she won the $102,500 Madame Jumel for three-year-old fillies on Saratoga’s inner turf course,
Although Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel was at Arlington Park on Saturday, he left Ariege in the capable hands of jockey Alan Garcia, who steadied early in the race, but made a five-wide move that carried him to a 2 ¼-length victory in 1:38.87.
The course, saturated with rain on Friday, was listed as yielding and the portable rail was out nine feet. That allowed Sea Chanter to get a half mile on the lead in 50.32
“The pace was so slow that my filly was a little rough,” Garcia. “When I put her behind Coa (jockey Eibar Coa on Remarkable Remy), she relaxed a little bit. And then, at the top of the stretch, I said, `Let’s move,’ and then she ran good to the end.”
The Doneraille Court filly won her third consecutive race after winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and Keeneland’s Grade 2 Beaumont on all-weather surfaces.
The Madame Jumel marked her third start on turf in this country. She broke her maiden on grass EBF Median Auction at Killarney, Ireland in 2007.