SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Van Vranken Racing and NRB Racing Stable’s Awesome Debate tracked the pace and responded well under a drive to put away pacesetting favorite Sadie Lady and secure her first stakes triumph in Thursday’s 18th running of the 100,000 Union Avenue for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward going 6 ½ furlongs at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Bruce Brown, Awesome Debate was claimed for $45,000 out of a winning effort in a state-bred allowance optional claiming event on July 18 over a sloppy and sealed main track at the Spa. Following a troubled trip on August 9 at Finger Lakes when a distant fifth as the heavy favorite, the 5-year-old daughter of Honorable Dillon returned to the Spa with vigor, notching a 4 ¼-length romp and capturing an eighth lifetime win.
Luis Saez, the leading jockey in wins and stakes scores this meet at Saratoga, put Awesome Debate in second position, one length off 2-5 favorite Sadie Lady, through opening fractions of 21.91 seconds for the quarter-mile and 44.98 for the half-mile over a sloppy and sealed main track.
Saez started to get busy aboard Awesome Debate around the far turn, collaring Sadie Lady just past the quarter-pole and splashing away to victory in a final time of 1:17.48.
Stakes-placed Irish Constitution, who was off a step slow, closed late for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Hannah Dances, who stumbled badly at the start. Sadie Lady and Diva Banker rounded out the order of finish. Lot of Honey was scratched.
Saez, who guided Awesome Debate to her July 18 score two starts back, said everything went according to plan.
“The plan was to be right there and to not let them breathe too much, and everything worked out pretty well,” Saez said. “This filly, I love her. I rode her [before] and I knew she’d have that quick turn-of-foot at the top of the stretch. She did it perfectly.”
Brown said he was delighted to notch a redeeming win after Awesome Debate broke in the air and stumbled at the start last out.
“That was just a total mess. Afterwards, I really felt bad about how everything went up there but if she had run hard that day, maybe she wouldn’t have ran as well today,” Brown said. “Things have a way [of working out]. In the moment, I was very upset, but this makes it better.”
Brown praised Saez for a strategic trip.
“He had it in mind to really be aggressive and not let that horse get a loose lead. She broke like she did the day we claimed her,” Brown said. “She broke in front and then that horse went to the lead. I think Luis knew that filly had to run to get there. I just didn’t want that other horse falling out on the lead and having nobody press her.
“The rain, I didn’t mind at all. When we claimed her, she ran good in the slop, so I was happy with the surface,” Brown added. “The main thing was we didn’t want to let the favorite get loose on the lead, so Luis did a good job and stayed right there. She had some run in her the last part and drew away. It worked out well.”
Bred in the Empire State by Charlton Baker, Awesome Debate banked $55,000 in victory, enhancing her lifetime earnings to $322,577 and her record to 16-8-3-1. She returned $8.60 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Friday with a 10-race program headlined by the $120,000 Skidmore for juveniles going 5 ½ furlongs over the Mellon turf course. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the 40-day summer 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