Monday at Saratoga: Chaos at the Spa

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The sixth week of the 2018 Saratoga Race Course meeting came to a close Monday, a day that featured a victory by a Canadian shipper in the $100,000 Better Talk Now, a riding triple for Jose Ortiz and a training double for Rudy Rodriguez.

Chiefswood Stable’s homebred Rose’s Vision shipped from trainer Stuart Simon’s base at Woodbine to post a mild upset in the 1-mile Better Talk Now, a restricted event for 3-year-olds who have not won a stakes at a mile or over.

The Artie Schiller colt raced sixth early before closing well in the lane to edge Have At It by a neck with Prioritize third in the field of nine. Strike Power, the 2-1 favorite making his turf debut, loomed a threat turning for home before finishing last.

Ortiz also rode the winners of the second (Winter Union) and third (Supercommitee) and enters Week 7 tied for second with Javier Castellano in the jockey standings. Irad Ortiz Jr. is the clear leader in the riders’ race with 45 wins after picking up two wins Monday – the fifth aboard Cloontia and the finale on Surge Of Pride.

Rodriguez trained Cloontia, who won his state-bred claimer going 1 mile on the grass for a $25,000 tag. Rodriguez lit up the tote board two races later when Blue Belt took the seventh, another $25,000 state-bred claimer going 7 furlongs on the main track to return $103.50.

The trainer’s race is all but over heading into Week 7 with Chad Brown holding a commanding win. He’s won 34 races in 34 days and that pace would tie him with his and Todd Pletcher’s record of 40 wins at the meet. Pletcher is second in this year’s standings with 17 wins.

• Trainer Brad Cox, back at his main base in Kentucky, missed the chance to celebrate his sixth win of the Saratoga Race Course meeting after Celtic Chaos scored in Monday’s fourth race. The partners of Zilla Racing Stables made up for their trainer’s absence, filling the winner’s circle after the 5-year-old son of Dublin topped a field of four other New York-breds in the $82,960 allowance.

Zilla Racing Stable’s Mike Piazza made it, along with the 25 partners in Celtic Chaos and their friends and family.

“This is our third win of the meet, and it means a lot, especially since I represent so many clients who put their time, money and energy into our partnership,” Piazza said. “I get to experience my own personal feelings but I also get to experience what they’re going through, so it kind of just amplifies everything to a whole other level. That’s what keeps us coming back for more and more.”

Celtic Chaos raced fifth through the opening splits of :22.51 and :45.04 set by 3-2 favorite Eye Luv Lulu with John Morrissey winner Weekend Hideaway chasing.

Celtic Chaos and Eric Cancel gained around the turn and reached the leaders just past the 3/16ths pole. They took over at the eighth pole and drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths over the late-running Finger Lakes shipper Saratoga Giro. Weekend Hideaway finished third. Celtic Chaos won in 1:16.19 for the 6 1/2 furlongs.

“We were hoping to get a real fast pace, but sometimes with a five-horse field you don’t always get what you think is going to happen,” Piazza said. “We really thought Saratoga Giro was going to push the pace but that never happened, so I was a little bit worried early, but the horse was training so well going in.”

Transferred from Kiaran McLaughlin to Cox this winter, Celtic Chaos finished third behind Weekend Hideaway and Eye Luv Lulu last time out after a somewhat troubled trip last time in the John Morrissey.

“The horse got in some traffic trouble last race in a much bigger field, so with five horses we didn’t think traffic was much of an issue,” Piazza said. “Coming for home he wasn’t switching leads. I was a little concerned, but he had a lot of horse and he’s won some races in the past where he never switched leads. It was great to win this one.” – David Woods