Two turns suits Nonna Madeline well in Summer Colony victory

August 5, 2020

Trainer Todd Pletcher said last week that he was optimistic two turns could continue to suit Nonna Madeline’s strengths. The 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride proved her connections prophetic, dueling with Golden Award into the stretch before pulling away to a 1 1/4-length win in Wednesday’s $85,000 Summer Colony for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Teresa Viola Racing Stales and St. Elias Stable, Nonna Madeline entered looking for her first win of the campaign after back-to-back runner-up efforts, including at 1 1/16 miles on April 16 at Oaklawn Park. Stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time, Nonna Madeline, the even-money favorite, stayed just off 3-2 Golden Award’s early fractions as she led the five-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.31 seconds, the half in 46.22 and three-quarters in 1:09.66 on the fast main track.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. moved Nonna Madeline up from the outside, taking command entering the stretch. At the top of the straightaway, Ortiz, Jr. gave left-handed encouragement to ward off Golden Award’s bid to retake the lead near the rail. Nonna Madeline hit the wire in a 1:49.13 final time, earning her first stakes win in seven attempts for trainer Todd Pletcher.

“I had a perfect trip,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “We didn’t know what [Golden Award] was going to do. I just went with my plan to come running out of there and if I can make the lead easy, make it, and if something else changed, Todd let me do whatever I needed to do.

“The other horse [Golden Award] was right there in the first turn,” he continued. “She broke sharp, so I just sat second beside her. We were going a little fast but I didn’t have too many options. She was the filly to beat so I had to stay there. She was very comfortable. She wasn’t going that keen, and on the backside she relaxed a little bit and she was still in the race. She never backed up, so that was great.”

Pletcher trained three-fifths of the field, with Bellera and Always Shopping running third and fourth, respectively, while the Rob Atras-conditioned Bossy Bride completed the order of finish in fifth.

“I didn’t anticipate that they would go that fast. It sort of turned into a match race up front, and I’m proud of her for digging in and finding more the first time going a mile and an eighth,” Pletcher said. “She was coming out of some faster races so we anticipated we’d be close.

“Like I said before the race, you can have a plan but you’re not sure what everyone else’s plans are,” he added. “We were in a good position for that filly, and I thought [stablemate] Bellera was sitting an ideal trip and just kind of ran evenly. It was a big effort from Nonna Madeline and nice to see her get a stakes win.”

Nonna Madeline made her first Saratoga appearance since running twice as a juvenile in 2018, finishing second in the Grade 3 Schuylerville and fifth in the Grade 1 Spinaway. On Wednesday, she returned $4.30 on a $2 win bet and improved her career earnings to $202,190.

“The more we’ve done with her and having had the opportunity to run her two turns at Oaklawn, I thought there was a decent chance she’d see out the mile and an eighth,” Pletcher said. “To be honest with you, I looked at this one hoping to get that stake win for her. Now that we’ve got that, we can be a little more ambitious.”

Golden Award, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and ridden by Junior Alvarado, finished 7 ¼ lengths in front of Bellera, placing for the 10th time in 14 career races for the 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro mare.

“I had a great trip,” Alvarado said. “I thought there was going to be a little more competition at the end but my horse and the winner took it from the beginning. We were head-to-head the whole way, and I think today the other horse was best. We were just second-best.”

Bellera, who capped her 2019 with a win in the Grade 3 Comely in November at Aqueduct Racetrack and last out ran third in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in June, earned blacktype for the fifth time in six starts.

Live racing resumes Thursday at Saratoga with a nine-race card that includes the $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series Cab Calloway for state-bred 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf in Race 8 at 5:14 p.m. First post is 1:10 p.m.

NYRA Press/ Photo Credit: Chelsea Durand Photo

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