Count to seven. One, one-thousand. Two, one-thousand. Three, one-thousand . . .
Seven seconds takes a long time.
For Latitude Forty, it was the difference in her finishing time in last year’s Yaddo and her time in this year’s Yaddo. Seven seconds slower, but same result.
Dee Zee Stable’s Latitude Forty rolled across the yielding turf to run down Factual Contender and hold off You Go West Girl (Julien Leparoux) by a neck. Favorite Rewrite spun her wheels in the deep going, finishing third, her first loss in her last three starts. Ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by John Hertler, Latitude Forty broke a five-race winless streak, dating back to last year’s Yaddo.
The New York-bred daughter of Chester House just missed to Rewrite in the Irish Actress in her most recent start, but reversed that decision with a resolute effort through yielding turf.
Castellano placed the 5-year-old mare in second, at least 10 lengths off the wild lead set by Factual Contender who posted splits of 25.27, 50.12 and 1:14.89. When the pacesetter faltered, Latitude Forty swung into action and turned for home with a growing lead. Latitude Forty stayed on her left lead until inside the sixteenth-pole when You Go West Girl rallied inside her. Latitude Forty switched to her right lead and held off You Go West Girl, who was making her first start against New York-breds for trainer Tom Proctor. She ran hard to finish second after 9 furlongs in 1:55.16, with Rewrite (Alan Garcia) third.
“She gave me a good run, I wasn’t worried about the leader because it was soft. She was rank in front of me, I could see that, I was worried about Rewrite, she’s a nice filly,” Castellano said. “I knew they would have to make a huge effort from behind to catch me.”
Latitude Forty’s refusal to switch leads didn’t faze Castellano.
“She always does that, I don’t know why,” Castellano said. “The last time she never switched. This time she switched late when I hit her; it helped because the other horse was coming.”
Hertler doesn’t duck anybody with Latitude Forty. She made her 13th straight stakes start in the Yaddo. Bred by Paul Hoffman and Donene Honnold, Latitude Forty has now won a stakes in each season she’s raced, dating back to the 2006 Terreavigne (Rewrite finished fourth) over yielding turf at Belmont Park. She then lost five in a row before the 2007 Yaddo.
“She ran a big race. She loves Saratoga,” Hertler said. “When I saw her in the paddock, she looked like a rock star – dry, holding her head up, just standing there. I said, ‘This filly’s going to run good.’ She looked like a rock star. She won the Yaddo last year, she can run on any kind of racetrack. I wasn’t worried about the ground.”
Hertler worried that it wouldn’t stay on that ground, however.
“I was happy and surprised they kept it on. The turf is deep, it took a beating, clods were coming back like baseballs. They better get some fast-growing grass out there,” Hertler said. “She runs on anything. She’s real good right now, real happy. She looked good in the paddock, she looked majestic, that gave me a good feeling. When she’s on target, on her game, she’s tough.”
Originally, the Yaddo was scheduled for Saturday but didn’t draw enough entries so the racing office tried it again for Sunday. It attracted six, Chestoria scratched, leaving it with five runners over a yielding turf.
“Saturday was a nice day,” Hertler said. “I would like to think I would have won it then too.”