The top two choices on the tote board could not be separated at the wire in Saturday's Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes, with 8-5 Varenka and 2-1 Regal Glory officially declared to have dead-heated for the victory. The two sophomore fillies stopped the clock in 1:43.68 for 1 1/16 miles over Saratoga's turf course, rated “good” as rain began to fall on the area mid-way through the contest.
Trained by Graham Motion and ridden by Javier Castellano, Augustin Stable's Varenka is a daughter of Ghostzapper; it was her first graded stakes victory.
“I'm speechless, to be honest,” Motion said. “I had another one of these up here in the Amsterdam [with Secret Firm in 1998, who dead-heated with Mint] when I first started training. I just can't believe she got there because they went so slow. That was a crazy performance.”
The Animal Kingdom filly Regal Glory is a homebred for Paul Pompa, Jr., and was ridden to a third straight win by Luis Saez for trainer Chad Brown.
“Both horses finished great to run into a slow pace like that,” Brown said. “I thought Luis [Saez] did a great job. I really have to take a look at that photo. I hope they show it in full.”
Amandrea was sharp out of the starting gate, but it was Blowout who forged to the lead heading into the clubhouse turn. Staying out in the two-path, Blowout set unpressed fractions of :26.36 and :51.10 with a 1 1/2 length lead, while Amandrea seemed content to follow her at the rail. Vow To Recover traveled in third, while Regal Glory and Varenka moved in unison behind that filly.
Rounding the far turn, Amandrea re-took the lead over a game Blowout, but both Regal Glory and Varenka had gone wide and were moving up to challenge. It was a four-horse battle to the line as rain fell over the darkened course, and it appeared as though Regal Glory had a half-length on her rivals until the final jumps before the wire.
Varenka dug in and got a good head bob to hit the line at the same moment as Regal Glory, while Blowout re-engaged to be just a neck back in third. Amandrea had to settle for fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge Jr., Varenka is out of the stakes-winning Dynaformer mare Dynamic Cat. Her record now stands at 3-2-2 from eight starts, for earnings of over $250,000.
Also bred in Kentucky by her owner, Regal Glory is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning More Than Ready mare Mary's Follies. She has now won five of her seven lifetime starts with two seconds, and boasts earnings over $400,000.
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