Virginia Kraft Payson's favored homebred Rutherienne continued her impressive 2007 season Friday thanks to a fearless hedge-skimming ride from jockey Garrett Gomez and a bit of luck in the $115,100 Lake George (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
Snaking her way through traffic late in the race after lagging the field at the start, the 3-year-old Pulpitfilly was sent through a tight hole on the hedge to shoot in front of Classic Neel leaving the eighth pole, then held on for a neck victory over the charging Lady Attack and Calvin Borel in 1:40.34 on the firm course. It was another neck back to Sharp Susan, also closing well while ridden by Kent Desormeaux.
“She’s as game as she gets,” said winning trainer Christophe Clement of Rutherienne who recorded her sixth victory in seven career starts. “She’s great for this course because she is so handy. Garrett gave her a great ride. Sometimes, you get lucky, sometimes, you don’t.”
Gomez won his fourth race on Friday's Saratoga card.
The rider said he used his experience to make the winning decision to go up the hedge. He had saved ground while Dashes N Dots set a pace of :23.13; :46.87; and 1:10.65 as she surrendered the lead to Classic Neel, who drifted out after getting a clear lead in the stretch.
“Just before we came off the turn, I wanted to make my way to the outside to give her a clear run,” Gomez said. “But they started to clog up and a couple started wheeling out. It looked like I was going to have to go 10-wide to get out there. I was actually saving a lot of ground and as I was saving ground, I kept picking up leaders, and I was making it more difficult to wheel her out. My only worry was about the eighth pole, when I had to come through on the last horse. It got a little tight for a second, but she never thought about it. I did. She’s a nice little filly. She gives 110 percent every time she comes out there. I wish they were all like that.”
The result was another close brush for Rutherienne, who returned $7.50, $4.30, and $3.10 as a slight choice. She won her previous start, the Boiling Springs (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park, on disqualification after losing by a neck to Lake George rival Red Birkin, who was disqualified that day. Prior to that, Rutherienne won the Sands Point (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park in a dead-heat with Bit of Whimsey. Rutherienne is undefeated in five starts at the Lake George 1 1/16-mile distance. She shouldered co-high weight of 122 pounds Friday.
Payson also bred the winning filly's dam, Ruthian, by Rahy. Rutherienne earned $69,060 for the win.
Clement said he would likely pass on the $150,000 Lake Placid (gr. IIT) at Saratoga at nine furlongs on Aug. 17 in favor of Belmont Park’s $200,000 Garden City (gr. IT) at nine furlongs on the turf Sept. 8.
Lady Attack returned $9.40 and $6.50, while Sharp Susan was $5.30 to show.
It was one length back to Classic Neel, followed by Silky Smooth, second choice Good Mood, Miss Tizzynow, Red Birkin, Dashes N Dots, Bees, and Awesome Ashley.