Jim and Susan Hill's Daddy Is A Legend had to bull her way through at the rail, but the 8-5 favorite was able to get clear late to win Friday's Grade 3 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga by two lengths. The 3-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, ridden by Manny Franco for trainer George Weaver, covered 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf course in 1:40.42.
Daddy Is a Legend stayed off the early pace as Punked led the seven-horse field through early fractions of 23.92 seconds for a quarter-mile and the half in 47.71 on the firm Mellon turf.
Under jockey Manny Franco, Daddy Is a Legend saved ground on the backstretch and gained steadily until the far turn, where she overtook Goodthingstaketime from the inside before running neck-and-neck with Altea in the stretch.
Under urging from Franco's left-handed whip, Daddy Is a Legend gained separation and held on for a two-length win, completing the 1 1/16-mile course in 1:40.42.
“It is important [to save ground] and today, we got a good draw, so the main thing was to break good and get my position and wait,” Franco said. “It worked out good.
“The main thing, [trainer] George [Weaver] told me to wait,” he added. “He didn't want me to move too early, so I was trying to follow somebody that was going to keep going and that's what I did. I waited as long as I could and the inside opened so I just sent my filly and she was there for me.”
Daddy Is a Legend won for the first time since the Grade 2 Jimmy Durante on November 25 at Del Mar to give Weaver his first win of the meet.
“More pace developed than I thought there was going to be, which sometimes happens when there's no pace in the race,” Weaver said. “She was in a good spot, she got some cover and wasn't too far off the pace and she was ready to pounce whenever he wanted her to.”
“We wanted to run in the [Grade 1] Belmont Oaks [July 7] and she got a little bellyache getting close to it and it just wasn't going to happen,” Weaver said. “This was a logical next spot to try. She looked great on paper going into the race. We felt good about the way she was training. I'm just glad she got a good trip, and it worked out for us.
“She's run well every start this year,” he added. “It's just a really, really deep division and she's one of the better ones in it. We're hoping she can move forward and continue to do well the rest of the year.”
The French-bred Altea, trained by Chad Brown, registered her best finish in four starts since arriving in North America from her native country, finishing 2 1/2 lengths in front of Goodthingstaketime in third.
Andina Del Sur, Heavenly Love, Going Out and Punked completed the order of finish. Nootka Sound, a main-track only entrant, was scratched.
Bred in Pennsylvania by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing, Daddy Is A Legend was a $160,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale. She won her first graded stake in Del Mar's Jimmy Durante last November, and the Lake George improves her overall record to three wins from eight starts for earnings of over $230,000.
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