Just as she did in the Grade 1 Diana on opening weekend, Laughing led every step to remain undefeated in 2013 while winning the 25th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa for fillies and mares on the turf at Saratoga Race Course.
Pianist closely tracked the winner from her outside for the entire 1 1/6 miles but could get no closer than a neck at the wire.
With Jose Lezcano aboard, Laughing set reasonable fractions of 23.89 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.41 for a half-mile. Pianist battled hard through the stretch, but Laughing held gamely, stopping the timer in 1:40.37 over a firm inner turf course.
“She's real healthy now and I think she'll be a force in the filly and mare division,” said winning trainer Alan Goldberg. “The other filly hung in there pretty good.”
Laughing, owned by Richard Santulli, increased her career earnings to $818,855 with her seventh win from 14 lifetime starts. A 5-year-old mare by the British stallion Dansili, the winner started her season with a victory in Monmouth's Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap before taking the $500,000 Diana Handicap on July 27.
“She jumped a little in the bit but when I asked at the quarter-pole she took off,” Lezcano said. “It was kind of the same trip as the Diana. She felt comfortable and I let her do whatever she wanted.”
Laughing returned $7.30 for a $2 win wager. Pianist was 2 3/4 lengths ahead of longshot Hard Not to Like in third. The order of finish was completed by favored Hungry Island, Somali Lemonade, Miz Ida, Embarr and Centre Court.
See the full chart here.
Ketel One Ballston Spa (G2) Quotes
Alan Goldberg, winning trainer of Laughing (No. 1) [by telephone]: “It was a great race. She ran well, and hopefully she'll come back well. She's a trier. She's real healthy now and I think she'll be a pretty good force in the filly and mare division. She's pretty tough. I actually thought she would [do it]. The other filly hung in there pretty good. Looking at her form, it looked like [Pianist] wanted to have the lead. She'd run her best races on the lead. It was a good horse race; it turned out really well.”
Jose Lezcano, winning jockey aboard Laughing (No. 1): “I figured to be up there with the pace. I let her break, and go from there. I liked the trip. She jumped a little in the bit, but when I asked at the quarter pole, she took off. It was kind of the same trip as the Diana. She felt comfortable and I let her do whatever she wanted. She is a very nice filly.”
Chad Brown, trainer of runner-up Pianist (No. 2): “She runs so well fresh. She likes rock-hard ground. It was the perfect setup. We were just second-best today. Laughing is tough. This is three times in a row I have been second to her with three of my best fillies. These are three good fillies I have run against her and [Laughing] handled all three of them.”
Mike Smith, jockey aboard runner-up Pianist (No. 2): “The hard ground, she loves the hard ground. That's what I think. She tried so hard, the other mare just outgamed me, man. She's just tough. I thought I had her. I got a neck in front of her and she fought back. You have to take your hat off to her.”
Javier Castellano, jockey aboard beaten favorite and fourth-place finisher Hungry Island (No. 5): “The only way I got beat today was because the track is so fast. You don't see horses coming from behind. I think we just got beat because the horse that went to the lead never stopped, and my horse is a come-from-behind horse.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2016 Paulick Report.