Oklahoma report: Lighthouse Bay bounces back

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George Weaver made the trip back from Lexington to Saratoga Wednesday night with that good feeling only winning can produce. He got it thanks to Joe Can Gallop going gate-to-wire in a $58,000 first level allowance at Keeneland, the Johannesburg colt’s second victory in four career starts.

It was a far cry from the way Weaver felt coming back to Saratoga from Belmont Park a week earlier. That trip was a disappointment not just because Maybry’s Fortune got caught in deep stretch in a race early on the card, but mainly because the horse he made the trek down to saddle never got a chance to start.

And the horse wasn’t just any horse, it was Lighthouse Bay. Winner of the Grade 1 Prioress two starts back and off the board in the Grade 1 Test late in the Saratoga meet, Lighthouse Bay looked like she was in a good spot to get back in the win column. Pitted against just three rivals in the $90,000 Catinca back at her ideal distance of 6 furlongs, Lighthouse Bay was favored heading to the post.

Then things went wrong, very wrong.

The 3-year-old Speightstown filly got unsettled in the starting gate, unseating jockey Joe Rocco Jr. in a scary incident that led to her being scratched.

“I don’t know what to make out of that,” Weaver said atop his pony as he trained a set toward the end of training hours Thursday morning at the Oklahoma Training Track. “At any moment racehorses can get excited and I guess she did get excited. It was definitely scary and unfortunate because I think she would have done very well in the spot.”

Amazingly Lighthouse Bay was not seriously injured in the incident. She did miss the race – which saw Baby J run down odds-on favorite Maracuya in the final strides – but is back training and most likely headed to Keeneland for next weekend’s Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run going 7 furlongs on the Polytrack.

“She seems OK,” Weaver said. “She was a little body sore for a few days, but she’s back on the track now. It was an isolated incident, but we’ve seen it happen a lot.”

Weaver hopes to breeze Lighthouse Bay, the winner of two of five starts this season, sometime this weekend. He’s also considering the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint for the Richlyn Farm homebred, with some hesitation.

“The question mark is if we get to run in the Raven Run is that running back too quick? We’ll just have to feel it out,” he said. “The Raven Run is on synthetic, which is a nice kind of experiment to see how she handles it because it could open more doors for her.”

Weaver also said he’d prefer if the Filly and Mare Sprint was at 6 instead of 7 furlongs.

Lighthouse Bay won the Prioress at 6, defeating Wildcat Lily by a half-length in 1:09.29. She didn’t fare as well in the 7-furlong Test four weeks later, finishing fifth and behind two fillies – Wildcat Lily and So Many Ways – who she defeated in the Prioress. Lighthouse Bay’s other win this year came in the 6 ½-furlong Jostle Stakes at Parx.

“If the Filly and Mare Sprint was 6, like it is for the boys, then I’d be much more into it,” Weaver said. “I just think she ran a much better race in the Prioress than she did in the Test and I think that extra furlong makes a difference.

“But, that’s one thing about this game, it’s out of your control. You can’t write your own races. It seems so often in this game when you want 6 it’s 7, when you want 7 it’s 6. Jeez. We’re hoping to get a work this week and if she works well we’ll go in the Raven Run.”

Weaver plans to keep a close eye on the weather this weekend both for Lighthouse Bay’s breeze and to see how it impacts where Bona Venture Stable’s Summer of Fun will start next.

Fifth in the Grade 1 Garden City after a win in the Auntie Mame during the Saratoga meet, Summer of Fun could go in either Monday’s Pebbles at Belmont or next Friday’s Pin Oak Valley View at Keeneland. The condition of Belmont’s turf course, which was expected to get a soaking late this week and possibly this weekend, will dictate where the 3-year-old Include filly goes.

“Both races have different merits,” Weaver said. “The Pebbles being not having to ship all the way to Kentucky to run, which was nice and the purse was nice. Now we’ve got a rain system that is going to be lingering around and probably put the condition of the turf at Belmont where I don’t like it, so I’ll probably go to Keeneland. Maybe we’ll get lucky and something will blow that out to the East.”

Read Joe Clancy’s column “Grade 1 Barn” about George Weaver and Cindy Hutter from The Saratoga Special.

Watch Lighthouse Bay upset the Prioress.

Watch Summer of Fun win Auntie Mame.