After going 0-for-27 for the 2018 Saratoga meet, trainer Graham Motion picked up his first win in Saturday's first race and is hoping that will set the tone for the remainder of the summer.
Getting Motion off the duck was first-time gelding Arch of the Diver, who scored by 9 ½ lengths in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race in his first start since September 2016.
Next Saturday, Motion will saddle multiple graded stakes winner Spring Quality in the Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer on Travers Day, August 25. Originally bound for the Arlington Million on August 11, the Augustin Stable color-bearer became dehydrated on the journey to Chicago from the Fair Hill, Maryland training center and was scratched.
“I just didn't feel comfortable with running him in the race,” said Motion. “Fortunately, there was a plane heading to Saratoga from Arlington which he got on, and since then he has looked like he's returned to his usual self. Obviously, it wasn't our initial plan, but we're now focusing on the Sword Dancer.”
Spring Quality won the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 9 in his most recent start, coming from the back of the pack and going eight wide to post an 18-1 upset. He had his first breeze earlier this week for the Sword Dancer over the Oklahoma training track, with Motion pleased by his easy five-furlong move clocked in 1:07.21.
“We only wanted to stretch his legs,” said Motion. “He only went a half-mile and galloped out in five over the soft going. Thankfully everything appears to be in order and he's acclimated and appears to have returned to his old self since being here so we're optimistic heading into the race.”
Motion added that plans for multiple graded stakes winner Ultra Brat, second to Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Diana on opening weekend, remain up in the air.
“It's unfortunate after coming so close to winning a Grade 1 to experience a setback, but she's not 100 percent at the moment,” said Motion. “We'll deliberate her future and decide where and what her next plans will be.”
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