Guarana Goes Wire-To-Wire In CCA Oaks

by | 07.21.2019 | 3:48pm
Guarana wins the Coaching Club American Oaks under jockey Jose Ortiz

Three Chimneys Farm's Guarana continued her career's torrid start and earned her second consecutive Grade 1 victory, kicking away from Point of Honor in the stretch to stay undefeated in capturing the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks in wire-to-wire fashion by a length on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.

Rescheduled after Saturday's card was cancelled due to excessive heat, the 103rd running of the Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies saw Guarana, the 1-5 favorite, sent to the front of the five-horse field, going the opening quarter-mile in 24.27 seconds, the half in 49.49 and three-quarters in 1:13.58 on the fast main track.

Out of the far turn, jockey Jose Ortiz kept Guarana near the inside as Point of Honor, under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, made a late bid from the outside. Guarana drifted out with Point of Honor charging on before Ortiz straightened her course, though the stewards ruled no change after an owner's objection as Guarana completed the 1 1/8 mile route in a final time of 1:49.65, marking the longest race of the Chad Brown trainee's young career.

“I had a very good trip. She broke very clean and I went to the lead,” said Ortiz, who has been aboard for every Guarana start. “She was travelling very nice along the backside. From the three-eighths pole, I started feeling a little more pressure from Champagne Anyone and I asked her to start moving up and she responded really good.

“She got into full gear when I switched her to the right lead and she gave me everything she had,” Ortiz added. “I wanted her to run a little faster and I tried to surprise her left handed and she overreacted. I was lucky I was clear, because if I wasn't as clear I would have come down because she did overreact.”

Guarana surged onto the scene with a 14 ¾-length debut win at 6 ½ furlongs on April 19 at Keeneland and followed with a six-length romp in the one-mile Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day, June 8, at Belmont Park. The Ghostzapper filly is now 3-for-3 at three different tracks and increasing distance in each start. She returned $2.50 on a $2 win wager, increasing her career bankroll to $697,400.

“She handled a mile and an eighth well,” Brown said. “I thought she got a really good ride from Jose. Nice, comfortable fractions and had enough to get to the wire. The runner-up ran terrific as well. It was a good horse race. I think she got a little lonely out there towards the wire, but like Jose indicated to me, she was starting to get a little tired. She did overreact to the stick a little bit. It caused her to briefly come out, but she was well clear.”

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing's Point of Honor, making her first start since winning the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on May 17 at Pimlico, made another strong showing for trainer George Weaver, finishing 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Off Topic for runner-up in her respective Saratoga and Grade 1 debuts.

“She [Guarana] came out too quick and intimidated my horse. I did have to stop riding a little bit. She came out pretty far,” Castellano said.

Off Topic, the longest shot on the board at 31-1 for trainer Todd Pletcher, finished five lengths clear of Champagne Anyone to finish on the board for the first time since running third in the Grade 2 Gazelle on April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Boxwood, trained by Eddie Kenneally, completed the order of finish.

The Coaching Club American Oaks, first contested in 1917, counts numerous Hall of Famers on its all-time winners list, including Open Mind [1989], Mom's Command [1985], Davona Dale [1979], Ruffian [1975] and Shuvee [1969], Vagrancy [1942] and Cleopatra [1920] among others.

Live racing will resume Wednesday with a 10-race card featuring three stakes, including the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice steeplechase race in the opener at 12:50 p.m. Eastern. The New York Stallion Stakes Series Cab Calloway for state-bred 3-year-olds on the inner turf will be contested as Race 7 and the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap for fillies and mares going six furlongs will be Race 8.

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