Rhyme Schemes Poetry in Motion in G2 Saratoga Special

August 12, 2023

Rhyme Schemes runs away and dominates in the Saratoga Special (NYRA/Coglianese)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Pura Vida Investments’ Rhyme Schemes lived up to his post-time favoritism with an impressive 9 1/2-length triumph in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Herb Moelis Memorial Saratoga Special, a 6 1/2-furlong main track sprint for juveniles, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Norm Casse, the son of Ghostzapper entered from a second-out graduation by the same margin when sent to the lead by jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint on June 15 at Ellis Park, relishing the addition of blinkers and a change in tactics after attempting to rally from off the pace when sixth-of-9 in his May debut. In the Saratoga Special, he displayed his versatility when pouncing from two lengths off the pace under Santana, Jr. to draw clear from his rivals with ease in the stretch and provide Casse with his fifth career graded score.

Casse said even horses like Rhyme Schemes, who earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure for his maiden coup and appeared to be the horse to beat on paper, are never a guarantee at Saratoga.

“There’s always pressure. The problem with Saratoga is I’m never 100 percent confident,” said Casse. “I knew the horse was very talented from the onset. Right when we got him, I could tell that he had multiple gears underneath him. That number was so big it was hard to believe. I needed some more affirmation and I think we got it today.

“If you go back and watch his first race, he just ran so spotty that you could tell he needed blinkers,” Casse added. “It keeps him a little focused. Ricardo told me that he’s still looking around, so he’s only going to get better the more he runs.”

Rhyme Schemes broke a step slow from the outside post in the six-horse field while the sharp-starting pair of Woodcourt and Market Street vied for the early lead before the latter took a slim advantage and marked an opening quarter-mile in 22.18 seconds over the fast main track. Rhyme Schemes raced in third position with Lasso to his inside down the backstretch before Woodcourt was given his cue to the outside of Market Street approaching the turn.

Santana, Jr. angled Rhyme Schemes to the outside of his pacesetting foes and came to even terms with the pair as they reached the top of the lane after a half-mile in 45.71. Rhyme Schemes took command as he straightened for home and drew off under confident handling. Woodcourt gave way as a stubborn Market Street battled with the late-running Haul for place honors, but there was no catching Rhyme Schemes, who stopped the clock in 1:17.12.  

Market Street turned back the late bid of Haul to secure place honors by three-quarters of a length with Lasso another 2 1/4 lengths back in fourth. Edified and Woodcourt completed the order of finish.

Casse praised the ride from Santana, Jr. and said it was key for Rhyme Schemes to find his best stride early in the race.

“The only thing I was concerned about today is if we got into some sort of speed duel with somebody and take away from his nice rhythm,” said Casse. “He broke slowly and that forced Ricardo to get him into the bridle and into his own rhythm and he runs much better that way.”

Pets for Rhyme Schemes after his impressive triumph (Chelsea Durand)

In addition to his three afternoon outings, Santana, Jr. also guided Rhyme Schemes through his final work heading into the Saratoga Special when covering a half-mile in 49.33 seconds in company with the Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Mac Daddy Too. Santana, Jr. said that work proved to him that Rhyme Schemes could be effective from off the pace as well.

“Well last week, we gave you a good work working alongside Kendrick – two horses for Norman,” said Santana, Jr. “We were impressed by how he worked. I was really happy with my spot. I don’t have to be on the lead, so I just let him, break, sit, and turning for home he was much the best today.

“That means a lot for me,” Santana, Jr. added. “It means a lot for Norman and the barn. You know, good trainer. He’s given to me one of the best horses, and I’m really happy with him.”

Rhyme Schemes skipped the Grade 3 Sanford on July 15 here in hopes of coming into the Saratoga Special fresh and ready to produce a strong effort. Casse said the chestnut colt will likely turn his attention to the seven-furlong Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful on September 4 after such a successful graded stakes debut.

“We skipped the Sanford with the intention of running him twice. Here today and coming back in the Hopeful,” said Casse. “I think going forward, he’s going to be a better two-turn horse but that remains to be seen.”

Bred in Kentucky by Parks Investment Group, Rhyme Schemes banked $110,000 in victory and improved his lifetime record to 3-2-0-0. He returned $4.10 for a $2 win ticket.    

Live racing resumes Sunday at Saratoga with a 10-race card that concludes with the $150,000 Mahony. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.   

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