Ashkal Way, part of a heavily favored Godolphin Stable entry, closed with authority to get back on the winning track in the $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) Saturday on the Saratoga Mellon Turf Course.
The Irish-bred Ashkal Way won his first three U.S. starts since transferring here from his Great Britain base before finishing second behind Remarkable News in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) on Saratoga's inner turf course Aug. 6. Saturday's victory was his first in a graded or group race.
Jockey Garrett Gomez won his fourth race of the day and made it back-to-back stakes wins after guiding My Typhoon to victory in the $200,000 Ballston Spa (gr. IIT). He took 7-10 choice Ashkal Way back off an honest pace set by T.D. Vance, then angled out at the head of the stretch while in mid-pack to launch the winning bid. Ashkal Way, a 4-year-old Ashkalani gelding, hooked up with Dreadnaught in deep stretch and prevailed in the final 50 yards under left-handed urging by a long neck. He completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:46 3/5.
"I thought there was enough early pace," said Gomez. "I thought, if they went quick enough, I could tuck in. I saw them four across, I knew I could tuck in behind. I had a good trip. I was able to save ground down the backside. The pace stayed pretty bold."
Interpatation finished willingly to be third, while T.D. Vance - who carved fractions of :24 2/5, :48 1/5 and 1:11 3/5 - wilted late to finish fourth. Ashkal's Way's entrymate, Etesaal, making his first U.S. start, faded after pressing the pace for six furlongs.
Ashkal Way's sixth win in 14 starts increased his lifetime earnings to $363,349. Saeed bin Suroor trains Ashkal Way.
"Once Garrett got him covered up on the rail, I was confident that he would run his race," Godolphin assistant trainer Rick Mettee said.
He paid $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10. Dreadnaught, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, returned $4.60 and $3.30. Interpatation, with John Velazquez replacing the injured Rafael Bejarano, was $5.50 to show.
"He ran great the whole way," said Tom Voss, trainer of Dreadnaught. "I thought we had it. He tends to wait a bit until he sees another horse. Still, that didn't make a difference. The best horse won."
Leadwithyourchin, Eteesaal, Quest Star, and Terrific Storm followed T.D. Vance.
Morning line choice Badge of Silver was scratched, as was Fishy Advice, who reportedly suffered a stifle injury.