Woodbine invader Jambalaya made it four wins a row since owner/trainer Catherine Day Phillips switched him to the turf with a heart-pounding win over favored Silver Whistle in the $111,900 Saranac (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds on the turf at Saratoga Sunday.
With Jono Jones aboard, Jambalaya dug in to defeat Silver Whistle and Jerry Bailey by a thin nose in a fierce stretch battle. Woodlander finished third. The final time for the 1 3/16-mile event on a firm course was 1:54 1/5.
It was the first Saratoga victory for both Phillips and Jones. Earlier in the day, Phillips pledged 10% percent of Jambalaya's earnings to aid the children of New Orleans displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Jambalaya earned $67,140 for his fourth win in seven starts, pushing his career bankroll to $386,779.
The winner, making his first start outside of Canada, carried co-top weight of 121 pounds, six more than the runner-up.
Jambalaya, a $2,500 Ontario bred by Langfuhr
, was coming off an eight-length win in the Breeders Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. Prior to that, the dark bay gelding won a maiden race and first-level allowance – both on the lawn – convincingly. He had lost the first three races of his career on the dirt.
He showed his Breeders blowout was no fluke. Breaking well as Chestertown Slew took the early lead, he tracked the leader in second through tepid fractions – :23 4/5, :48 2/5 and 1:13 – before taking over in the stretch. Silver Whistle, who broke from the inside post and fell back early, came four wide for Bailey in the stretch and nudged ahead, but barely, in deep stretch before Jambalaya fought back along the inside to prevail.
"We got lucky, and he's a super horse," Phillips said. "It looked like he had it down the lane, and then he didn't. The see-saw back and forth was something else. As it was, it turned out in our favor.
"He has been really good on the turf," she noted. "There aren't any turf races in Canada for three-year-olds, so we sought this race out and really wanted to come to Saratoga. It seemed now was the time. We'll go back to Woodbine to re-organize and see where we will go next."
"It's great to win a stakes here," Jones said. "We didn't know how good he was because he had only beaten Canadian-breds. He showed he's the real deal now, you know?"
The hard-luck Silver Whistle suffered his second straight graded stakes loss by a nose, leaving trainer Bill Mott frustrated. The gray colt was defeated in the Hall of Fame (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 8 by a nose to T.D. Vance.
"It's tough," Mott said. "This is the ninth stakes race where we've finished second. I guess it was fitting we ran second again. Other than that, (Silver Whistle) gave it his best."
Bailey said Silver Whistle was carried out repeatedly by Jambalaya but there was no objection lodged.
Gustav Schickedanz bred Jambalaya, who sold for $2,500 at Keeneland in September 2003. He's from the Vice Regent mare Muskrat Suzie.
The co-second choice in the field of nine, Jambalaya paid $10.80, $4.40, and $3.40. Silver Whistle, the 8-5 choice, returned $3.30 and $2.70. Woodlander, making his first start since winning the Lexington (gr. IIIT) at Belmont July 10, was $4.70 to show under Edgar Prado. They finished 2 1/4 lengths behind Silver Whistle.
A neck back was Zurich, also trained by Mott, followed by Crown Point, Chestertown Slew, Palladio, Port Chester, and Mesawmi. Tadreeb scratched.