SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Cliff Love and Michele Love’s Damon’s Mound, a strong 3 1/4-length winner of Saturday’s Grade 2 Saratoga Special, will ship back to Virginia on Sunday and resume training at Colonial Downs.
“He’s perfect, proud of himself, and a little tired, which is to be expected,” said trainer Michelle Lovell, who scored her first victory at the Spa with her first starter.
The win improved the dark bay colt’s record to a perfect 2-for-2, building upon an eye-catching 12 1/2-length win on debut win in July at Churchill Downs. Lovell acknowledged the excitement of both Churchill Downs and Saratoga but praised the quiet lifestyle the Virginia facility offers to horses.
“We’re training at a very quiet, horse-friendly place in Virginia,” said Lovell. “He’s been at Churchill where there is a lot of commotion.”
The juvenile son of Girvin, who was ridden to victory by Gabriel Saez, was awarded a career-high 86 Beyer Speed Figure for his last-to-first effort on Saturday.
“He’s been so great,” said Lovell. “Everything went to perfection. Even the way the race set up. We were really happy to track the frontrunners. Gabriel put an excellent ride on him. The rest is history. It’s in the history books.”
As for a next start, Lovell said her preference would be to get Damon’s Mound around two turns but did not rule out the seven-furlong Grade 1 Hopeful on September 5 at the Spa or the Grade 1 Champagne at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet. The Grade 3 Iroquois in September at Churchill Downs or the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity in October at Keeneland would satisfy the desire to race at two turns.
“Everything’s on our radar,” said Lovell. “We’ll see how he is. He’s never had a bad day, so I don’t expect him to.”
Lovell, a former jockey that had ridden at Saratoga and finished second on three occasions, said she was pleased to finally enjoy a trip to the winner’s circle.
“We celebrated at dinner,” said Lovell. “I took my groom and some friends and just had a nice dinner. I had so many congrats from so many people. Saratoga is super special, obviously, that’s an understatement. Getting to [be in the winner’s circle] was awesome.”
Perry Harrison’s Change of Control, winner of the Grade 3 Intercontinental at Belmont Park last year, returns to Saratoga this week for Lovell in Saturday’s $150,000 Smart N Fancy, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares. The Fed Biz mare’s only other start at Saratoga was her career debut back in 2018. Lovell said the horse will be arriving a couple of days before the race.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Damon’s Mound a strong winner of the G2 Saratoga Special (NYRA/Coglianese)