Salve Germania, the longest shot in the $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO), charged down the center of the stretch to tag favored Rutherienne by a head at the wire on a soggy Saratoga Melon Turf Course Aug. 29.
Making her first U.S. start for German trainer Waldemar Hickst, Salve Germania was driven to victory by Javier Castellano. Salve Gemania was unruly in the paddock, ran off in the warm-up and delayed the start when she was difficult to load into the gate.
The Irish-bred 4-year-old daughter of Peintre Celebre, with a debut maiden win at Dusseldorf and seven subsequent defeats in Germany and France, was understandingly overlooked in the wagering at 24-1 against a strong group of American-based fillies and mares.
Salve Germania raced at the rear of the eight-horse pack in the 1 1/16-mile event on a "soft" turf course while saving ground under Castellano. The big chestnut fily gathered herself at the head of the stretch to launch a bid, angling three wide after finding an opening mid-stretch, and finished with aplomb to collar Rutherienne just before the wire.
“In the paddock she was hard to handle," said Castellano, who had to jump off her once when she reared. "It was her first time in this country, she was a little scared of the people, it was so crowded. In the race she settled beautifully. It was a slow pace and she settled right behind the horses and when asked she kicked very good.
Castellano said he was disappointed when she ran off in the post parade.
“You’re looking forward to settling down your horse before the race, when they’re acting like that, you start to worry a little bit because you take a lot of energy before the race. After the post parade she settled down beautiful and I think it was the key to the race.”
Rutherienne, the 9-5 favorite, appeared to be home free for jockey Alan Garcia after squirting through between horses on the inside to take the lead from Teamgeist. But the woes for the Christophe Clement-trained Ruthierenne, who has won just once in her past 10 starts, continued with her unfortunate defeat in the Ballston Spa. The Virginia Kraft Payson homebred has not been worse than third in any of those races, all graded stakes.
“She ran very well," Clement said. "She was just second best on the day. I think she would have been very tough on firm turf.”
My Princess Jess, who closed well from between horses under Cornelio Velasquez, finished third, beaten a half-length. The winning time was a 1:47.25.
Captain's Lover set the pace with Cocoa Beach and Teamgeist stalking loosely through lazy fractions of :25.87, :51.92, and 1:17.22. Cocoa Beach, the second choice, finished fourth, followed by the Argentina-bred Teamgeist, Captain's Lover, and Closeout.
Owned by Hellwig Manfred, Salve Germania was coming off a fourht-place finish in a listed stakes at Hamburg on July 4. She was group-placed at Dusseldorf last fall and had recently finished ninth in the Prix Corrida (Fr-II) at Saint Cloud, where she was 4 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Alpine Rose.
She earned $120,000 for her second win in nine starts, which increased her lifetime bankroll to $153,242.
Gestut Hony Hof bred the winner, who is out of the German mare Salve Regina, by Monsun.
“We had always had high hopes for her since she was a yearling because she was well-bred," said Maren Hennig, Salve Germania's groom who accompanied the winner to the US. with Olga Hickst, the wife of the winning trainer. "She was running in long races in Germany and we decided to cut back in distance, but there were no suitable races in Germany. We decided to look in the United States for shorter races and firm ground. We found the shorter race, but the ground wasn’t firm today! We were surprised that she acted up like that. I had been leading her every day here and she was very calm.”
Salve Germania carried 118 pounds and paid $50.50, $15.60, and $5.90 while keying a $2 exacta of $204.50. The 5-year-old Rutherienne, who was coming off a troubled third in the Aug. 1 Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga, returned $3.40 and $2.40. Lael Stable's My Princess Jess, fifth in the Diana for trainer Barclay Tagg last time, was $3.60 to show.