The Fields Stable’s Portrade led every step of the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) last Thursday and held off a late challenge by Andi’amu in Saratoga Race Course’s stretch to win by a length. Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer finished third, 1 1/2 lengths farther back.
Bob Le Beau, the 3-to-5 favorite, broke down on the first circuit of Saratoga Race Course’s clubhouse turn and was humanely destroyed after vanned off with multiple fractures to his right rear ankle. Both Bob Le Beau and Portrade were owned by The Fields Stable and trained by Elizabeth Voss.
Portrade had set the pace in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and finished third to Bob Le Beau. Under Gus Dahl, Irish-bred Portrade jumped away from the start and set a steady pace on the inside.
Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu, the New York Turf Writers’ 20.50-to-1 longshot under Paddy Young, followed Portrade’s pace and never lost contact with the leader. After the final fence, Dahl gave Portrade a brief breather before Andi’amu came at them.
As Portrade began to feel the pressure in the stretch, Dahl gave Portrade two quick left-handed cracks from his whip and then finished with a vigorous hand ride through the final 25 yards.
“The idea was to give him an easy pace,” said Dahl, a 22-year-old native of Tennessee who has had his riding career blossom in the last 12 months. “He likes to be on the front end and settles once he can’t hear the pressure behind him. That’s why he wears a hood, to dampen some of that noise. But he’s there when you ask him.”
Dismissed at 12.90-to-1, the second-longest price after Andi’amu, Portrade more than doubled his career earnings to $168,639 with the New York Turf Writers’ $90,000 first-place purse. He carried the New York Turf Writers’ light weight, 142 pounds, and ran the New York Turf Writers’ 2 3/8 miles in 4:28.93 on firm turf.
The New York Turf Writers established a number of firsts. It was Dahl’s first Grade 1 victory although he rode Irv Naylor’s Ebanour to victory in the Virginia Gold Cup, a top-level timber race, in May. “It’s a dream come true,” Dahl said of winning a Grade 1 at Saratoga.
It also was Portrade’s first U.S. victory. He won a stakes handicap, the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Ireland’s Listowel Race Course in September 2014 in his penultimate start for trainer George Stanley.
Hardrock Eleven goes for rare double at the Spa: Horses rarely get the chance to win the same allowance race twice, but Virginia Lazenby’s Hardrock Eleven will have that opportunity on Thursday as Saratoga Race Course winds up its 2016 schedule of steeplechase racing.
Last year in the same race limited to nonwinners of two hurdle races, Hardrock Eleven prevailed as a maiden by 4 1/4 lengths over 2 3/8 miles. The Rock Hard Ten gelding, now six, scales back on Thursday to 2 1/16 miles, the distance at which he finished second in a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 17.
Apprentice jockey Brendan Crowley will be in the irons for trainer Doug Fout, who will saddle owner Beverly R. Steinman’s homebred.