Clement had horses for three races beginning today through Saturday; Pure Sensation, who was making his turf debut in the Quick Call Stakes, Life in Shambles in Friday’s Curlin and, of course, the big horse in Saturday’s Jim Dandy.
The latter is the quintessential prep for the Derby of Midsummer but the Grade 2 has no problem standing on its own as a prestigious event. Tonalist, the colt that spread the icing on the Frenchman’s petite duchesse, will head this one up as the early line choice.
But today it was a horse that was making its turf debut in an overnight stakes, a tough assignment for any runner, especially from the rail with its short run to the turn and, sure enough, Jose Lezcano was loaded but couldn’t find a way through.
“I was on the inside and had nowhere to go,” explained Lezcano. I didn't want to go outside too quick so I took it little by little. Once he got in the clear, he took off. It was close but I knew I had it."
Clement is going so well that Pure Sensation didn’t need turf experience to win the grassy 5-1/2 furlongs in a very snappy 1:01.82. Yes, the fast tempo set the table for a late run, but who thought the colt could win on a new surface with a change of style?
“We tried him once at Belmont on the turf and he trained very well,” said Clement. “You can see the way they move, they move really, really well. [Today] he was moving very well at the end. He's a nice horse. When they're good enough they can just get out of trouble.”
Not that there was much choice but to finish. The leaders were moving right along, a job made a little easier when formerly undefeated turf-sprint specialist Escapist missed the break entirely then, for good measure, checked out badly entering the far turn after showing high speed under restrain
They raced 2-1/16 miles in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes for limited winners in the opening steeplechase event yet only a nose separated the winning 35-1 Awesome Pearl from Kingdom, the unlucky runnerup who bobbled at the seventh fence.
Kingdom was saddled by Elizabeth Voss, daughter of the late, great Tom Voss, while Awesome Pearl gave rider Kieran Norris his first lifetime win at Saratoga…Meanwhile, Bluegrass Summer was rallying up the inside but checked out entering the final turn. He came on inside with a sneaky late move up the hedge; bet back…
Babies on display in the second with trainer Guadalupe Preciado stealing the show, finishing 1-3 with a stable coupling--ship-ins Villalobos, who finished very fast too late for third; bet back, and winning Zip’s Moondance, beating two heavy favorites, trained by Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher, respectively. Fourth finisher Lemon Royal finished well too late, widest of all; follow
Orient Harbor finished like a rocket in the 5th race as much the best, looking very much like a repeater. Miss Lech made a good return from a layup in that same event; will benefit. Braided acted like he wanted more distance. Sky Crew washed out badly pre-race; note.
Rosie had two more turf winners today, showing her usual patience and coming with successful late runs; she used the same tack successfully yesterday.