Clement, Santos Get Photo Quality Win

Tortured twice by losing photo finishes in graded stakes races earlier in the meet, trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Jose Santos got a bit of payback when Waterville Lake Stable's Celtic Sky got up at the wire to beat front-running Reluctant Groom by a nose in the $82,900 West Point Handicap for New York-breds at nine furlongs on the turf Friday at Saratoga.

The winning time was 1:48. In winning for the fifth time in 12 starts, Celtic Sky benefited from a six-pound break in the weights from heavily-favored I'm All Yours, ridden by Jerry Bailey, who ran fourth. A son of Sky Classic, Celtic Sky returned $8.40 to win.

It was a relief for Clement and Santos, who had been on the short end previously. First, Voodoo Dancer was beaten a nose by Tates Creek in the Diana, and then Forbidden Apple ran third to Del Mar Show, beaten a neck and a nose for it all in the Bernard Baruch.

"After Forbidden Apple and Voodoo Dancer, I knew I would have to win at least one stake race," Clement said. "The fractions were very consistent. Todd Pletcher's horse is a nice horse (I'm All Yours); maybe the weight (124 pounds) got to him."

Reluctant Groom and jockey Jose Espinoza took advantage of the portable rail being out 12 feet on the Mellon (outer) Turf Course, and set a soft pace of :24 3/5, :48 2/5, 1:12 3/5 and 1:36 on the firm going.

"There was not much speed in the race," Santos said of the West Point. "I was waiting for Bailey around the turn, thinking `When was he going to come?' I let my horse go, and by that time, the horse (eventual runner-up Reluctant Groom) was two or three lengths in front of me. He really got the first punch on me. It was very tough to beat him. My horse gave a great effort and ran a beautiful race, but the horse that finished second, you can take nothing from him. He just got beat by a better horse."

Chasin' Wimmin was third, followed by I'm All Yours, No White Flags, Blazing Saddle an Iolite.

(Chart, Equibase)

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