Van Vranken Racing and NRB Racing Stable’s Awesome Debate will look to make amends in her second start for trainer Bruce Brown in Thursday’s $100,000 Union Avenue, a 6 1/2-furlong handicap on the main track for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Saratoga Race Course.
Claimed for $45,000 out of a winning effort on July 18 at Saratoga, the 5-year-old Honorable Dillon grey went to post as the odds-on favorite last out in an optional-claiming sprint on August 9 at Finger Lakes. After being fractious in the gate, Awesome Debate broke in the air, stumbled and trailed the field of five throughout.
“That wasn’t how it was written up,” said Brown, with a laugh. “She was supposed to win by 10 in a gallop and then I was going to run her back in this race, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
“It’s just one of those things. Bad racing luck,” he continued. “She came out of it great. Coming back out of that race was going to be running her back pretty close, but she didn’t really do a whole lot of running that day. It was a public workout more than anything.”
Brown said Awesome Debate was very professional when schooling at the gate Saturday at Saratoga.
“She didn’t turn a hair….which figures,” Brown said.
Bred in New York by Charlton Baker, who trained her through her first 13 starts, Awesome Debate has posted a record of 15-7-3-1 with purse earnings of $267,577. She was claimed for $45,000 out of a runner-up effort in May at Belmont by Danny Gargan and returned July 18 with a stylish score in a six-furlong state-bred optional-claiming sprint contested on a sloppy and sealed main track.
Brown said he appreciated the mare’s nose for the wire.
“She’s been very consistent lately. I’ve always liked that group of higher-priced New York-bred claiming fillies and older mares,” Brown said. “If you can have a decent one of those that’s usually a pretty good thing.”
With the speedy Sadie Lady likely to dictate terms Thursday, Brown said the often-prominent Awesome Debate may utilize different tactics while trying to win beyond six furlongs for the first time.
“She’s very tactical,” Brown said. “When I claimed her I thought she had the look of a pure speed horse, but that day she sat off it and then went on with it. I don’t think six and a half [furlongs] will be a problem for her.”
Awesome Debate, assigned 119 pounds, will emerge from post 5 under Luis Saez.
Dennis Narlinger’s graded stakes-placed Sadie Lady has won three of her last four starts dating back to a 2 1/2-length optional claiming win in December, sprinting six furlongs at Aqueduct.
The Rob Atras trainee, bred by JMJ Racing Stables, followed with a head score in the six-furlong Correction in March at the Big A against open company ahead of a game second in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Vagrancy in May at Belmont Park.
Last out, the 5-year-old daughter of Freud made every call a winning one in the six-furlong Dancin Renee against fellow state-breds at Belmont.
Jose Ortiz retains the mount from the inside post as Sadie Lady, an eight-time winner from 20 starts, makes her Saratoga debut while carrying a field-high 124 pounds.
TLC Thoroughbreds homebred Hannah Dances is undefeated in four starts this campaign, all in sprint races at Finger Lakes, for trainer M. Anthony Ferraro.
The 4-year-old Shakin It Up grey, who will make her stakes debut while racing beyond six furlongs for the first time, boasts a record of 11-7-1-0 with purse earnings of $107,890.
Hannah Dances, carrying 118 pounds, will exit post 4 under Luis Perez.
Trainer Ray Handal will saddle a formidable pair in stakes-placed Irish Constitution [post 3, Joel Rosario, 115 pounds] and eight-time winner Diva Banker [post 6, Dylan Davis, 116 pounds].
Perrine Time Thoroughbreds and West Paces Racing’s Irish Constitution graduated on debut last July at Saratoga and followed with a distant fourth in the Grade 1 Spinaway. She completed her juvenile campaign with a runner-up effort in the Joseph A. Gimma in October at Belmont.
An optional-claiming winner in March at the Big A, the 3-year-old Constitution chestnut, bred by SF Bloodstock, was last seen finishing third – 5 1/2-lengths back of runner-up Awesome Debate – in a state-bred optional-claiming sprint on May 14.
The Handal-owned Diva Banker, a 5-year-old Central Banker mare bred by Jonath Meadean Inc., was claimed for $5,000 in January at Turfway Park and two starts later captured an open claiming sprint in May at Churchill Downs. She followed with an off-the-pace state-bred allowance score in June at Belmont, but failed to fire last out in a state-bred optional-claimer on August 11 at the Spa.
Rounding out the field is Joseph G. McMahon, Anne McMahon and Albert Lewis’ Lot of Honey, a 3-year-old daughter of Central Banker who graduated in an off-the-turf state-bred maiden special weight sprint in June at Belmont.
Trained by James Ferraro and bred by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Lot of Honey, assigned 114 pounds, will exit post 2 under Manny Franco.
The Union Avenue is slated as Race 9 on Thursday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports. For the complete Saratoga Livebroadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: Saratoga Race Course ( AC Photo).