In the case of the former, Tom Voss is somewhere smiling, that’s because Elizabeth, the daughter of the late, great steeplechase horseman—who did some pretty good work on the Spa flat, too--saddled her first graded stakes ever this afternoon.
And she did it while the racing world was watching, saddling Makarri to win the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick Memorial,although she was quick to deflect any compliments. “We can’t take a lot of credit for this horse, we’ve only had him two weeks,” Voss said after the race.
“My husband picked him out for his owners. [Makari] got off the plane and he seemed pretty straightforward. We took a chance and it worked out.”
Makari gamely survived a head-to-head late-stretch battle with runner-up Demonstrative, the two ding-donging in the straight after both cleared the final fence nicely.
It was a question of a head up or a head down. Demonstrative appeared to hit the finish post first but lost it on the re-bob when his head came up while the winner’s stayed down.
“The last jump always makes me nervous," said Voss. "I thought we got the bob last week and that we missed it this week,” she said. Either way, she’s happy to take this one.
“This is my first graded win and it’s exciting to have it be in Saratoga, a place we love so much.”
“He traveled like a dream the whole way, never missed a beat,” said jockey Jack Doyle, winning not only his first Grade 1 but his first victory in this country.
“I’ve had a couple of good winners at home [Ireland]," said Doyle, but never a Grade 1. It was brilliant to get that.”
Both will have a chance, if all goes well, to win another Grade 1 at the meet. The Smithwick, even at the highest grade, is still regarded as a New York Turf Writers prep, a longer event later this meeting.
In the flat feature, it was Rosie Napravnik doing what she does best, showing patience and timing a late run to be up in time, this time with Sinistra, the 27-1 upsetter of the Evan Shipman for New York breds going nine furlongs.
All Napravnik did was sit third, perched three wide throughout, put pressure on the leaders on the final turn, took a run at them, the bid stalling a bit, but later resurgent and the team wore down dueling leaders, Escapefromreality and Big Business, just before the line.
Alas, it wasn’t all good news on the distaff side. Lavender Road, scratched prior to the running of Wednesday's seventh race at Saratoga Race Course on the advice on the track veterinarian, but unable to get up after falling and delaying the start of the eighth race for a little more than an hour, was euthanized today after it was discovered she suffered a neck fracture.
On site observers yesterday reported that the filly tried to get up repeatedly, did so, but was unable to stay on her feet. Eventually, she was placed on a gurney inside an equine ambulance that carried her to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for observation where apparently the fracture was discovered.
This sad story just got curiouser and curiouser as yesterday wore on. It was feared at first that she suffered a cranial fracture when she struck her head on the outside rail when she collapsed to the track.
Yesterday, the media were informed about the possibility of head trauma and that the filly was being treated for heat exhaustion because her internal temperature was abnormally high. Wednesday’s outside temperatures were warm but far from being regarded as oppressive.
Today we were to learn more about the possible cranial fracture. Instead, the news was that she was euthanized because she suffered a neck fracture. Just before the stewards ordered her scratched, jockey Junior Alvarado made the suggestion to the track veterinarian that the filly be scratched because she was making noises in the pre-race warmup.