Blue Bomber – Saturday Racing Recap

- -

By Phil Janack

Admiral Alex, a 3-year-old son of Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex making his career debut, had just won Saturday’s second race when prominent owner Satish Sanan took Leon Blusiewicz aside in the winner’s circle, and got his cell phone number.

“I’ll win the Travers for you,” Blusiewicz said.

The 79-year-old owner/trainer plans to bring Admiral Alex back in the $1 million Mid-Summer Derby Aug. 28 off his maiden victory, a 1-length win in 1:49.76 for 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

“I’m pointing him to the Travers,” Blusiewicz said. “He’s a very, very good horse. Very good. The best horse I’ve ever had. By far.”

Admiral Alex was three wide on both turns before dropping in closer near the five-sixteenths pole, stealing the lead from longshot Loquacious approaching the eighth pole and drawing away under Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Listed at 10-1 on the morning line, Admiral Alex was 6-5 when wagering opened and went off as the 5-2 second choice behind Bakhoor, one of two $1.2 million yearling purchases in the nine-horse field that included three 4-year-olds.

“That’s why we’re here, to bet,” Blusiewicz said. “I’ve got a pocketful of tickets. I trained him around two turns. He’s a good horse. He showed me that last year, but he came up with a little bone cyst and I had to just give him time. I sent him to New Bolton, and they said to give him four months. I gave him five, and brought him back in March.”

The prospect of sending a maiden winner straight to a Grade I race didn’t faze Blusiewicz, who said he did it with the filly Snow Plow in 1981. Snow Plow won Laurel Park’s Selima Stakes, then a Grade I, and went on to win the Demoiselle at Belmont Park.

A Baltimore native, Blusiewicz has started two horses in the Travers. He ran fourth with Lejoli in Runaway Groom’s 1982 upset of Kentucky Derby winner Gato del Sol, Preakness winner Aloma’s Ruler, and Belmont winner Conquistador Cielo; Tong Po was eased in 1991.

Among his other stakes winners are Willa on the Move, Isella and Skipat, who won 27 of 45 career starts including back-to-back runnings of the Barbara Fritchie before being struck by lightning in her stall and killed in 1989.

“I’ve won a lot of Grade I’s with horses,” Blusiewicz said, “and of all the good horses I’ve had, ain’t nobody comes close to him. Nobody.”

The betting public made it clear which Billy Badgett-trained horse they liked in Saturday’s opener, the $70,000 Willam B. Fasig turf stakes.

Chestoria, the hard-hitting 6-year-old Chester House mare, was the 3-2 favorite in the field of seven older females bred in New York. At 25-1, stablemate Exclusive Scheme was the longest shot on the board.

“You know what? This filly’s been training really good since she got up here,” Badgett said of Exclusive Scheme. “I told the owners, ‘We might as well take a shot.’ “

The shot worked. Given a masterful ride by John Velazquez, Exclusive Scheme repelled My Magic Moment and Chestoria down the stretch and hit the wire a nose in front for Badgett’s first win of the meet.

Chestoria, whom Badgett plans to wheel back in the $100,000 Yaddo Aug. 20, battled on the rail for second, a head in front of You Go West Girl.

“The race was kind of void of speed, so I told Johnny, ‘If you take the lead, they’ll probably take back off you a bit because there’s no speed in the race,’ ” Badgett said. “I thought it would kind of set up for the other filly with a little pace in the race, but she ran great.”

It was the second consecutive win and seventh in 23 lifetime starts for Exclusive Scheme, a 4-year-old daughter of Saarland. Chestoria ran second for the second straight time and pushed her earnings to $505,556.

“Chestoria, she doesn’t like it down on the inside,” Badgett said. “She was kicking, but not like she does when she gets that outside trip. I’m never really worried about her. She’s pretty consistent. If she comes out of this all right, she’ll come back in the Yaddo and she’ll run her race in there, too. I’m real proud of the other filly. We’ll just have to play it by ear with her right now, and see what happens. It was great, because I got off the duck.”

While much was made of the new uncoupling rules in advance of Saratoga this year, the two Badgett horses (who compete for different owners) would have been uncoupled under the old rules as well – since the Fasig was a stakes. The stablemates produced a $132.50 exacta, which the trainer failed to bet.

“But the boys (sons Brandon and Brian) did,” he said. “They made all the money.”

Trainer Tom Proctor’s win percentage went up after Saturday’s fifth race, even if his stable got a little smaller.

Proctor earned his third victory of the meet when Caberneigh, a 5-year-old son of E Dubai, came up between rivals to take the lead from Pocket Cowboys in the final sixteenth and hold off closer En Fuego by a half-length.

Entered in the allownace/optional claimer for a $50,000 tag, Caberneigh was taken by owner/trainer Merrill Scherer.

“Bringing him up here, he did as good as any horse I had coming in,” Proctor said. “I kind of felt that he was going to run good.”

Proctor has made five starts at the meet, also winning with Queen Of The Creek July 26 and Broken DreamsJuly 28. He was third with You Go West Girl in Saturday’s opener.

“I’m a streaky trainer. You get lucky sometimes,” Proctor said. “It’s good to win. Anywhere you win, it’s great. It doesn’t matter where. I’ve won races in the bushes in Texas, and enjoyed winning those, too.”

– Considering the way Settle For Medal’s siblings ran as juveniles at Saratoga, trainer Mark Hennig couldn’t wait to get the Medallist colt in the starting gate for the sixth, a 6-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.

Out of the Coronado’s Quest mare Rehear, Settle for Medal is a half-brother to 2008 Adirondack and Spinaway winner Mani Bhavan, as well as stakes-placed colt Dattt Echo, who broke his maiden at the Spa last summer.

“He’s got a great pedigree,” Hennig said. “It’s a precocious family.”

Sent off at 21-1, Settle for Medal ($45.20) was third in his debut at Belmont Park July 2, 14 lengths behind gate-to-wire winner Boys At Tosconova. It was Hennig’s first win of the meet.

“He ran well last time,” the trainer said. “The winner was outstanding. He made his way through the pack last time and ran very well. He looked like a horse that would want more ground, and that the experience would do him a world of good. He certainly ran like an experienced horse today, coming through on the rail around the turn, angled out and made a nice run.”

Could the Grade I Hopeful at 7 furlongs on closing day be in the future for owner Mark Grier’s charge?

“We’ll see how he comes out of it and go from there. There are lots of opportunities,” Hennig said. “We’ll certainly nominate to those kinds of races and see how they come up.”

Chalk one up for preparation.

Six days before he was to ride Arcodoro in Saturday’s seventh, jockey David Cohen climbed aboard the 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt for a bullet 5-furlong work on the main track.

“I got to know him,” Cohen said. “He’s a very big horse with a long stride, and it’s better not to choke him down and take his advantage away from him. Really, that was the plan.”

When the gates opened for the $53,000 allowance, Arcodoro went right to the lead and stayed there through quick early fractions of 23.64 and 47.80 seconds, pulling away for a 2-length win in 1:49.43 for nine furlongs.

“We wanted to just get him out there, whether we were going in 49 or 45,” Cohen said. “Just let him do it at his pace without choking him down, and get him started early. He’s not a horse that’s going to have a big turn of foot and run away at the quarter pole. Things worked out well.”

At 44-1, Arcodoro ($90) produced the biggest win mutuel of the meet. It was Cohen’s third victory and the second in two tries on dirt for the horse, who had made nine of his 10 career starts on grass or synthetic surfaces in Louisiana and California. Eric Guillot trains the Kentucky-bred for Southern Equine Stable.

“It feels good. You get them home, whether you’re 8-5 or 40-1,” Cohen said. “The trainer has just been waiting to get him on the dirt. Obviously, you can see why.”