It was a good two days at Saratoga if you happened to be a Thoroughbred which was developed in Camden.
On Thursday at the Spa, King Zachary, a graduate from the barn of Mickey Preger Jr. at the Camden Training Center, broke a nearly 91-year-old track record at the venerable facility in Upstate New York by winning the $100,000 Birdstone for 3-year-olds and up.
One day later, Tom’s d’Etat, which was developed by Frank and Daphne Wooten at Frank Wooten Stables in Camden, scored a one-length victory in the $100,000 Alydar.
Trained by Graham Motion, King Zachary romped to an 8 ½-length win in the 1 ¾-mile race run over a fast main track in a time of 2:52.97, bettering the time of Reigh Count’s 2:55 set on Sept. 1, 1928.
Ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, the 4-year-old was returning to dirt after having been given a run over grass in Saratoga in its previous start on July 24. Velazquez had King Zachary sitting fifth in the opening quarter-mile before moving the Curlin colt to second behind Marconi at the 1 1/4-mile marker and then, overtaking the race leader and galloping away for its fourth career win from 14 starts and first since winning the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 16, 2018.
Motion said in spite of King Zachary having run a race eight days earlier, he liked the longer distance in the Birdstone.
“I kind of had the Birdstone in the back of my mind, but I wanted to run him on grass,” said Motion, who oversaw jump racing legend Flatterer while an assistant under Hall of Fame conditioner Jonathan Sheppard. “When the grass experiment didn’t work, we went to Plan B. He’s a beautiful horse, he’s absolutely gorgeous. I knew there was talent there and I said to Johnny in the paddock, ‘If this isn’t what he wants to do, I don’t know.’ He acted to me like he wants to go all day. You don’t get many opportunities to run at distances like this.”
Tom’s d’Etat collected its second career stakes victory last Friday as the 6-year-old Smart Strike colt bolted to the front of the field and to a three-length lead at the top of the stretch in the Alydar under Joel Rosario. The pair held off a late run from Wooderson and Velazquez who finished second. The winning time for the 1 1/8-mile race over the main track was 1:47.45.
Trained by Al Stall Jr., Tom’s d’Etat is named after the late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. It was Tom’s d’Etat third win in as many career races at Saratoga.
“He has the talent. He loves this course and he deserves to win a race like this at Saratoga,” Stall said. “We were considering entering the Whitney, but ultimately we decided he could use some class relief and he gives us a lot to look forward to coming off this performance going forward. We kept him at Churchill to get ready for this race. He just does so well down there and doesn’t need much to get acclimated.”
Stall did not rule out a start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on Aug.31 at the Spa.