Golden Pal puts on a show in G3 Quick Call

July 15, 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Stakes action for the 2021 meet at Saratoga Race Course kicked off in exciting fashion on Thursday’s Opening Day as highly regarded turf sprinter Golden Pal returned to the Spa with vigor, posting a three-length victory in the Grade 3, $120,000 Quick Call for 3-year-olds going 5 ½ furlongs over the Mellon turf course in front of 27,760 fans in attendance.

Golden Pal shook off eight months of rust from his previous outing in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 6 at Keeneland. That three-quarter length win came after another astounding Spa stakes win in the Skidmore at 5 ½ furlongs last August. 

Golden Pal gave Coolmore partners Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Westerberg another graded stakes triumph on the NYRA circuit less than a week after respective victories with Santa Barbara and Bolshoi Ballet in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks and Grade 1 Belmont Derby on Saturday.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. nudged Golden Pal coming out of the gate and the talented bay responded swiftly, blitzing through the opening quarter-mile in a torrid 21.92 seconds over good turf. Jaxon Traveler kept close company in second as the field came around the far turn, but Ortiz, Jr. did not call on his charge until just past the quarter-pole.

Golden Pal extended his advantage in mid-stretch and was wrapped up past the sixteenth-pole, completing the journey in 1:02.99.

Florida invader Omaha City closed late for second, edging Jaxon Traveler by a half-length.

Rebel Posse, Second of July and Kentucky Pharoah completed the order of finish. Fauci and main track only entrants Mr. Sippi and Fire Sword were scratched.

Ortiz, Jr., who has never lost aboard Golden Pal in three starts, said he was pleased with the effort.

“He’s a nice horse. I’m happy he came back where he left off,” said Ortiz, Jr., who piloted Charlie’sarchangel to victory in the first race on Opening Day. “He broke really nice for me. When I asked him, he responded really well. I didn’t want to ask too early. I didn’t want him to do too much, he’s been off for a long time.”

Trainer Wesley Ward, who won his first graded stakes at the Spa, could not help but sing high praises on behalf of his talented colt.

“He’s so extremely talented and quick,” Ward said. “He’s a big horse and he moves like a cat and that’s where he really has an advantage. I was a little concerned going into the race that I didn’t have a gate work into him, but he’s so smart that he overcame that in the first jump. When they said ‘go,’ he was gone.

“I like sprinters off layoffs,” Ward continued. “I think they run their best races off layoffs, more so than the distance horses. I think they need spacing in between because they are so fast and put so much into it, especially the first part of the race.”

Ward said the long term goal for Golden Pal is the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on November 6 at Del Mar.

“The bigger races are here in the next months and heading into the fall and then the Breeders’ Cup, so this is when you want to see them do this,” Ward said.

Upping his consistent record to 5-3-2-0, Golden Pal added $66,000 to a bankroll which now stands at $659,056. He returned $2.40 as the 1-5 post-time favorite.

Bred in Florida by Randall E. Lowe, Golden Pal is out of the Midshipman mare Lady Shipman, who notched two of her 11 stakes triumphs at Saratoga in the 2015 Coronation Cup and Smart N Fancy.

Live action resumes Friday with a 10-race program headlined by the Grade 3, $150,000 Forbidden Apple for 4-year-olds and upward going one mile over the inner 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

Saratoga Race Course Press Release

Photo: Golden Pal, (Janet Garaguso)

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