SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Lael Stable’s Arrest Me Red looked sharp off a nine-month layoff, taking command when straightened for home from the outside and fending off Fauci’s deep-stretch rally to prevail by a neck in Wednesday’s $120,000 Mahony for 3-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course.
The third running of the Mahony, contested at 5 1/2 furlongs over the Mellon turf course, saw Arrest Me Red making his first start since December and first appearance for trainer Wesley Ward. Under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Arrest Me Red broke from the outermost post tracking in third position as Momos led the pared-down five-horse field through an opening quarter mile in 22.42 seconds and the half in 44.82 over firm going.
Velazquez kept Arrest Me Red three-wide out of the turn, allowing him to overtake stablemate and 7-5 favorite Into the Sunrise. Fauci, under jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., had plenty left in the tank for the final furlong, closing ground fast from the outside. But Arrest Me Red, under Velazquez’s right-handed encouragement, hit the wire in a 1:01.59 final time to win his sophomore bow.
“He put in a really good fight,” Velazquez said. “When they got to the quarter pole, he went on and he finished really well. I’m really proud of him. He’d been working really nice in the morning. We expected him to run like this today.”
Arrest Me Red made his first three starts on turf as a juvenile including a stakes win in the six-furlong Atlantic Beach in November over Aqueduct Racetrack’s outer turf course, before running fifth in the Inaugural in December over the Tampa Bay Downs main track.
Returning to racing – and a familiar surface – the Pioneerof the Nile colt returned $6.10 on a $2 win bet and improved his career earnings to $151,000.
It also marked the first stakes win of the Saratoga summer meet for owner-breeders Roy and Gretchen Jackson.
“He was ready to run,” Ward said. “He came to me and we breezed him on the dirt a few times and he didn’t show that much. We got him to Saratoga and the plan was to run in a few days in an allowance race. Johnny kept saying he was training so well when he was breezing him on the turf up here.
“I called up Ms. Jackson and said we should go for the stake, he was doing so well,” Ward added. “This is only the second start I’ve had for them and the first at Saratoga. It’s great to win for such important and iconic owners like the Jacksons.”
Fauci, trained by Philip Antonacci, finished one length clear of Into the Sunrise for second, marking the fourth time the son of Malibu Moon has finished as the runner-up in a stakes.
“I had a perfect trip,” Santana, Jr. said. “He came with a good run there at the end. We were just second-best today.”
Into the Sunrise, who entered off a two-race winning streak for Ward, finished 2 3/4-lengths clear of Momos for third under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. Sky’s Not Falling completed the order of finish.
“It was a little advantage that we had Irad on today. I really liked the way Irad rode him,” Ward said. “He gave him a chance, he settled, he had a target and he had first go. The other horse was just better.”
Main-track only entrant Fire Sword scratched, as did Jaxon Traveler, Awesome Gerry and Rebel Posse.
Live racing resumes Thursday with a 10-race card highlighted by the 17th running of the $100,000 Saratoga Dew. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Bohl
Photo: Arrest Me Red, John Velazquez up. (Chelsea Durand)