SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Clarkland Farm’s Kentucky homebred Just Cindy outdueled Summer Promise in a spirited stretch battle to capture Thursday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Schuylerville, a six-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies on Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally and piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr., the Justify bay entered from a 2 1/4-length debut score in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on June 17 at Churchill Downs.
Musicmansandy led the field of seven through splits of 22.38 seconds and 45.90 over the fast main track with regally-bred maiden winner Summer Promise stalking from second position and Just Cindy saving ground in third to the inside of Me and My Shadow.
Summer Promise advanced with purpose through the turn with Just Cindy tipping outside the fading pacesetter with an outside rush as the two rivals met up at the top of the lane. Just Cindy put a head in front of Summer Promise at the stretch call and the two rivals matched strides until Just Cindy took over inside the final furlong to secure the 2 1/4-length win in a final time of 1:11.95.
It was two lengths further back to maiden Janis Joplin, who won the show battle by three-quarters of a length over fellow Mark Casse trainee Me and My Shadow. Rounding out the order of finish was Vedareo, who bobbled at the start, Musicmansandy and Adora. Sweet Harmony and Motown Mischief were scratched.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., who recently secured his 19th NYRA riding title after posting 48 wins at the Belmont spring/summer meet, said he was impressed with his first experience aboard Just Cindy.
“The filly is really nice. She does everything right,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “From the one post, she overcame everything and got there on time. When I asked her at the quarter pole, she did it.”
The win marked the third graded victory at Saratoga for Kenneally, who captured the Grade 3 Sanford in 2016 [Bitumen] and 2019 [By Your Side].
Kelly Wheeler, assistant to Kenneally, said she appreciated Just Cindy’s tenacity in the stretch run.
“She kind of got knocked around a little bit and she stayed professional and ran on,” Wheeler said. “It’s really all you can ask for in a second-time starter.
“I think she’ll go longer – I don’t think that will be an issue at all,” added Wheeler. “We kind of thought the added distance today wouldn’t be an issue at all, and it wasn’t.”
Summer Promise, a dark bay daughter of Uncle Mo trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, was purchased for $500,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Out of Grade 1-winning millionaire Dream of Summer, Summer Promise is a half-sister to Grade 1-winners Creative Cause and Vexatious.
She entered from a facile five-length score under David Cohen in a June 25 maiden special weight at Churchill Downs.
Luis Saez, who picked up the mount, said Summer Promise should improve with experience.
“She sat second in good position. She came to the top of the stretch and kind of waited a little for the other one,” Saez said. “But she did good. She’s going to be better next time.”
Out of the stakes-winning Proud Citizen mare Jenda’s Agenda, Just Cindy banked $96,250 in victory. She returned $6.20 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes on Friday at Saratoga with a 10-race card, featuring the $150,000 Coronation Cup in Race 8 and the Grade 3, $175,000 Forbidden Apple in Race 9. 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 horse players 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: Just Cindy winning the G3 Schuylerville (Chelsea Durand)