Making his 50th career start, 9-year-old fan favorite Kharafa stole the show on New York Showcase Day on Friday at Saratoga Race Course, charging down the middle of the stretch and holding off odds-on favorite Offering Plan to win the 39th running of the $150,000 West Point presented by Trustco Bank by a half-length.
Ridden by Dylan Davis, Kharafa lingered near the back of the 12-horse field as Black Tide bounded to the fore and set fractions of 22.91, 46.41 and 1:10.46 in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. Edging closer and given his head on the turn, Kharafa kicked into high gear and picked off rivals to win in 1:40.44.
“Incredible,” said Davis. “When he turned for home he turned into a beast out there.”
The win was Kharafa's first since his score in the Ashley T. Cole nearly two years ago, and first in three appearances in the West Point, having finished second in 2016 and third in 2013. Overall, the Timothy Hills trainee is 13-13-9, with the winner's purse of $82,500 pushing his bankroll to $1,235,997.
“He's been training really well,” said Hills, who trains Kharafa for Paul Braverman and Timothy Pinch. “He's 9 years old but he just doesn't train like an old horse. He loves what he does. He got a real good trip this time. I'm so happy for Dylan. His dad, Robbie, is one of my all-time favorite riders.”
“He's never done well at Saratoga [winless in six previous starts],” he added. “In fact, he gets real keyed up with the crowd. It was nice to break through here. We've been talking about retirement, and maybe his vote is to keep doing what he's doing, so we'll see. We'll go through the rest of the New York-bred series and see what happens.”
The gelded son of Kitalpha returned $37.40 for a $2 win bet.
Rapt was third, a half-length behind Offering Plan, with Morrison, Tapitation, Mo Maverick, Black Tide, The J Y, Memories of Peter and 9-year-old King Kreesa.
Favored Sea Foam began the afternoon's stakes action with a wire-to-wire victory in the 41st running of the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds. The Christophe Clement trainee went straight to the front under jockey Joel Rosario, setting fractions of 23.53, 47.51 and 1:11.85 before hitting wire in 1:50.24, three-quarters of a length in front of the closing Evaluator.
A son of Medaglia d'Oro, Sea Foam returned $5.60 for a $2 win wager and earned $137,500 for his owner and breeder, Waterville Lake Stables. The Albany was his third stakes win, having taken the Notebook as a 2-year-old and the New York Derby on July 21 at Finger Lakes. His record stands at 4-3-0 from nine starts with earnings of $373,750.
“I'm delighted because Waterville Lake Stable has supported me forever,” said Clement. “It's pretty usual for them to keep their fillies and sell their colts, and they didn't with Sea Foam because of an early issue, and I'm delighted it worked out.”
Completing the order of finish behind Evaluator were Singapore Trader, Analyze the Odds, Spectacular Kid, and Bad Guy.
In the $200,000 Funny Cide for 2-year-olds, Dugout and Bankit knocked heads through most of the 6 ½ furlongs before Dugout dug deep and kept a nose in front at the wire.
Trained by Larry Rivelli and ridden by Javier Castellano, Dugout is now 2-for-2, having broken his maiden by 7 ¼ lengths on July 23 at the Spa. He returned $8 for a $2 win bet in completing the distance in 1:16.43.
“It was a great trip,” said Rivelli, who also co-owns the Adios Charlie colt with Richard Ravin and Patricia's Hope. “I figured it was going to be between us and Asmussen [No. 5, Bankit] and I was confident coming into the race, but I'm glad everything worked out. This is the first homebred we've had and we dropped him in New York and he won, so it's exciting.”
Completing the order of finish behind Bankit were Bustin to Be Loved, Dalliance, and Red Zinger.
Juvenile fillies took center stage next, with Party Like Grandma wiring the field in the $200,000 Seeking the Ante, also at 6 ½ furlongs. Under Andre Worrie, the Desert Party miss zipped through fractions of 21.78 and 44.73 seconds, hitting the wire in 1:17.59 without being threatened for her second win in as many starts.
“As a weanling, she looked like a racehorse,” said trainer Jeremiah Englehart. “[Sire] Desert Party gets runners here and there, and I thought she looked like a racehorse for $8,000.”
She returned $7.90 for a $2 win bet and earned $110,000 for co-owners Flower City Racing, Christopher Meyer, and Englehart.
Following her under the wire were Maiden Beauty, She's Trouble, Harley Q, Time Warp and Icy Lady.
La Moneda wore down a gritty Lady Joan in the final sixteenth to take the 39th running of the $150,000 Yaddo for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, her fourth straight victory.
With Junior Alvarado in the irons, the 5-year-old mare tracked Lady Joan in fourth through fractions of 23.25, 47.34 and 1:11.21 before making her bid straightening for home. Moving in tandem with Fifty Five, La Moneda was well off the rail as she launched her best run, catching the pacesetter and hitting the wire a neck in front of Lady Joan, who held on to nose out Fifty Five for second.
“I thought going into the first turn I was sitting in a perfect position,” said Alvarado. “It was like a dream trip. At the half-mile [pole] I started letting her go a little bit just to make sure the horse in front didn't go away from me, and at the same time trying to save a little bit for the end just to make sure I can hold off [Fifty Five]. She was there for me the whole way. Everything I asked of her, she was up to the challenge.”
It was the first stakes win in as many starts for the 5-year-old Freud mare, who is trained by Tom Morley for Patricia Mosely. Overall, she is 4-for-5 on the year, with a career record of 6-1-0 from nine starts and a bankroll of $312,769.
Her winning time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:40.49.
Completing the order of finish behind Fifty Five was War Canoe, Tizzelle, Overnegotiate, Feeling Bossy, and Purrageous Dyna.
English Soul came four wide at the top of the stretch and was all out to nip front-running Take Charge Aubrey in a blanket finish to win the $200,000 Fleet Indian for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles.
Leaving from Post 11, Manny Franco kept English Soul perched on the outside, a couple of lengths behind favored Take Charge Aubrey as she was prompted by Cause We Are Loyal through an opening quarter-mile in 23.67 seconds, with the half going in 48.86 and three-quarters in 1:12.51. Turning for home, Franco set the English Channel filly down for the drive and she caught the game front-runner in the shadow of the wire, with Split Time and Indy's Lady – up from last – along for third and fourth, respectively.
English Soul, trained by Ray Handal for Zilla Racing Stables, ran the nine furlongs in 1:51.49 as she won her second stakes in four 2018 starts, having taken the East View in January at Aqueduct Racetrack. She also finished second in the Bouwerie and third as the favorite in the New York Oaks on July 21 at Finger Lakes.
“I told Manny, 'She doesn't need the lead, but break, get her up there. If they give it to you, take it,” said Handal. “If not, just sit and you can tuck in and be just two wide. I was a little concerned when I saw her four-wide into the first turn. That was definitely not ideal.”
Overall, English Soul is 4-2-1 from eight starts, with her only off-the-board appearance coming when sixth in the Chelsey Flower last fall at Aqueduct. She returned $10 for a $2 win bet in extending her bankroll to $287,634.
Checking in fifth was Cause We are Loyal, followed by Our Super Nova, Rachel's Blue Moon, Held Accountable, Aunt Babe, Purely Lucky and Pas de Deuce.
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