Teme Valley’s State of Rest used a strong move from the outside in the stretch to make his North American debut a memorable one, surging to the finish a one-length winner in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational for 3-year-olds going 1 3/16 miles on Saratoga Race Course’s Mellon turf course.
The Irish-bred son of Starspangledbanner earned international black type before shipping to Saratoga to participate in the second leg of NYRA’s Turf Triple series for 3-year-olds. The Joseph O’Brien trainee, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard for the first time, patiently tracked in sixth position as Cellist led the accomplished 11-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 21.96 seconds, the half in 47.54 and three-quarters in 1:11.88 over firm going.
Out of the turn, Cellist maintained the advantage with State of Rest remaining four-wide with a clear path in front. Velazquez set down his charge and State of Rest responded by overtaking all rivals, including runner-up Solider Rising near the rail, to complete the course in a 1:53.35 final time.
“The horse is actually a very, very nice horse and he was not really paying attention out in the post parade, so I was a little bit worried that his mind wasn’t on the business and that’s what he did,” said Velazquez, who added to his all-time graded stakes win record for a jockey. “He didn’t break very well. I didn’t panic. I just saved all the ground, looking for somewhere to go down the stretch and when I got him out, he responded really good.”
State of Rest, third in the Group 2 Champagne in September at Doncaster, entered off a close third last-out in the one-mile Celebration on June 26 at the famed Curragh in Ireland. After posting one win in seven career starts in Europe, he thrived with added distance to win a prestigious race on Whitney Day. The victory gave O’Brien his second graded stakes win this year following Baron Samedi’s victory in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup.
“He was unlucky not to win his last race. He ran really well and we knew that getting more distance today would suit him well,” O’Brien said. “We’ll get him home and talk to the owners and see how he is and see where we go next.
“He ran well the last time and we were figuring out where we could go with him. We figured this was a lovely spot and that the conditions would suit him well,” he added. “We weren’t sure how he would handle this level and he had never been around these turns before, but he handled everything really well.”
Off at 21-1, State of Rest returned $44.20 on a $2 win wager.
“I thought Johnny gave him a fantastic ride,” O’Brien said. “The pace was pretty strong and he got him comfortable and came home strong. We knew he would like the firm turf and getting more distance today.”
Solider Rising, who like State of Rest was racing on United States soil for the first time after posting a pair of wins and runner-up efforts in four starts in France, finished 2 1/2-lengths clear of Du Jour to run second for conditioner Christophe Clement.
“He ran very well, I am very happy,” said Clement, who ran second in this race for a second consecutive year following Gufo in 2020. “We’ll have to find another one for next year.”
Added Solider Rising’s jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.: “He missed the break a little, but it was his first time running in this country so I didn’t panic. I just let him settle and be where he was happy. I tried to have a good trip after that and that’s what I got, a really good trip. When I asked him, he was there for me.”
Du Jour, under jockey Joel Rosario, outkicked favorite Bolshoi Ballet – the winner of the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational that kicked off the Turf Triple series in July – by a half-length for third for Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott.
“It was a very nice run,” Rosario said. “He responded very well. Turning for home he was a little tired and hesitated for a little bit. He ran really well today.”
Secret Protector, Cellist, Palazzi, Yes This Time, Cadillac, King Fury and Flashiest completed the order of finish. The Turf Triple series for colts will conclude with the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Derby going 1 ½ miles on September 18 at Belmont Park.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Saratoga with a 10-race card featuring three stakes, encompassing the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational in the Turf Triple series for 3-year-old fillies in Race 9; the $200,000 Adirondack for juvenile fillies in Race 8; and the $120,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up in Race 7. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: State Of Rest (Chelsea Durand Photo)