SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Peter Brant’s Gina Romantica made her turf debut a winning one to give jockey Flavien Prat his fourth win on the card in Thursday’s $135,000 Riskaverse, a one-mile inner turf test restricted to sophomore fillies which have yet to win a stake other than state-bred at one mile or over, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, the Into Mischief bay, off a step slow, settled near the back of the pack in eighth as Missy Greer led the field of 10 through splits of 23.59 seconds, 47.40 and 1:13.40 over the firm going with Republique, Faith in Humanity and Wonka stalking her early foot.
Gina Romantica advanced four-wide late in the final turn as Faith in Humanity, with Manny Franco up for Brown, overtook the pacesetter to take command with a litany of rivals lining up. Prat asked Gina Romantica for more inside the final furlong and the bay responded by splitting fellow Brown-trainee Customer List and A Mo Reay to reel in Faith in Humanity for a 1 1/4-length win in a final time of 1:35.94.
Faith in Humanity completed the exacta by a head over A Mo Reay with Customer List, Wonka, Canisy, Skims, Republique, Linda’s Gift and Missy Greer completing the order of finish. Spirit And Glory was scratched.
Prat, who had guided Gina Romantica to a fourth-place finish last out in the one-mile Wilton on July 14, said he rode with confidence.
“I was expecting her to be a little closer than that, but she didn’t break well so I got myself tucked in inside – she was traveling well from there,” Prat said. “It felt like the pace was pretty fair and after that she was traveling well. Turning for home, the field kind of spread out so I was going to drop myself inside and I found myself behind horses, so I went to plan B and went around everybody and she kicked well.”
Brown won three races on the card and leads the Spa meet with 34 wins, seven more than Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher. The four-time Saratoga meet leading trainer said he was impressed by Gina Romantica’s turf debut.
“She hit a bit of a wall on the dirt last time on a heavy track,” Brown said. “Looking at the way she’s made, she’s kind of a lighter framed horse. These Into Mischiefs are so versatile, they can really run on almost anything, so I took a shot and breezed her on the turf. She’s always breezed a little better than she’s run, so I figured I would take a shot. Her breeze on the turf was pretty good.”
Franco said Klaravich Stables’ Faith in Humanity, a maiden winner last month at Monmouth Park, responded well in her stakes debut.
“I had a good trip. She had tactical speed and put me there the second part of the race,” Franco said. “She ran good. It was a great performance today. She just broke her maiden and stepped up in class today and showed she belongs here.”
Bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, Carrie Brogden and Craig Brogden, Gina Romantica banked $74,250 in victory while improving her record to 5-3-0-0. She returned $30 for a $2 win ticket. The $1,025,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Special Me, is a half-sibling to multiple graded stakes winners Gift Box, Special Forces and Stonetastic.
Live racing resumes Friday with a special New York Showcase Day card featuring 11 races devoted to horses bred in the Empire State, including six stakes worth a combined $1.25 million. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present daily coverage and analysis of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, 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 summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
By Keith McCalmont/NYRA Press Office
Photo: Gina Romantica and Flavien Prat win the Riskaverse (NYRA/Coglianese)