SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The one-mile Wilson Chute at Saratoga Race Course was christened on Opening Day Thursday with a sharp victory by LBD Stable, Manganaro Bloodstock and David Ingordo’s Tarabi in the first running of the $135,000 Wilton for sophomore fillies.
Trained by Cherie DeVaux, the daughter of First Samurai kept a perfect in-the-money record intact with her off-the-pace victory under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, scoring the first stakes win of her career after two Grade 1 placings as a juvenile.
Sent from post 6 as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 7, Tarabi broke well and was settled behind the pace set by Angitude with Gina Romantica tracking to her inside in third. Castellano sat calmly aboard Tarabi as Angitude marked splits of 24.75 seconds for the opening quarter mile and 48.70 for the half-mile over the fast main track.
Tarabi inched closer to Angitude as the field rounded the turn, chipping away at the pacesetter’s precarious lead before the two matched strides at the top of the lane. Tarabi came away with the lead at the eighth pole as a stubborn Angitude was left to battle on for place with the rail-skimming Goddess of Fire, who split rivals and showed a good turn of foot under Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Tarabi kept to task with a few taps of the crop from Castellano, reaching the wire three-quarter lengths the best in a final time of 1:38.53. Goddess of Fire got her head down to secure place honors over Angitude, who finished 6 1/4-lengths in front of Gina Romantica in fourth. Favor, St Maarten Girl and A Mo Reay rounded out the order of finish. Sweet Solare and Let’s Be Clear were scratched.
DeVaux said that a good break made the difference for Tarabi.
“On paper, some of the speed horses had scratched out of the race. We were trying to figure out what works best for her and her running style,” DeVaux said. “She had been on the chase from a bad break or hitting the gate. It was nice to see that she settled, came with a run and she persevered through the wire.”
Castellano said he was pleased with the way Tarabi broke from the new Wilson Chute.
“It felt great. There was plenty of room,” Castellano said. “I liked the way my horse did it and fell into the race. Tuesday’s test run absolutely helped.”
A debut winner in August at Ellis Park, Tarabi posted two impressive placings in Grade 1 company behind subsequent Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Echo Zulu in the Spinaway at the Spa and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar in her first start beyond the sprint distance. Her other start this year was a good second in a seven-furlong optional claimer in June at Churchill Downs.
With her first stakes victory now on her resume, Tarabi may make the step back up to Grade 1 company next time out in the seven-furlong $500,000 Longines Test on August 6 at Saratoga.
“The Test is definitely what our goal would be so we’re going to have to shorten her back up, but she had a race over the track and she’s run two good races here,” said DeVaux. “It gives you a lot of confidence to point towards a race like that.”
Bred in Kentucky by Hinkle Farms, Tarabi returned $4.40 for a $2 win wager and banked $74,250 for her victory, boosting her total purse earnings to $370,250. Out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Bay, Tarabi is a full-sister to Japanese Group 3-winner Shivaji and was purchased for $240,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Velazquez said he had hoped for more pace for Goddess of Fire to run into.
“I had to come out running to get a little position. They went pretty slow, so I was forced to be where I was,” Velazquez said.
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 Mary Eddy
Photo of Tarabi by Susie Raisher