Favored Trademark captured his second graded stakes race in the United States this year as jockey Richard Migliore guided the South African runner through a seam between horses in the stretch en route to an easy win in Saturday's $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga.
The Darley Stable import, trained in the U.S. by Kiaran McLaughlin, was timed in 1:39 1/5 for the 1 1/16-mile turf test, just two-fifths off the course record. Trademark, carrying 118 pounds, defeated pacesetting Quest Star by two lengths, with Tap The Admiral, who was last in the field of 11 early, closing well for third, another 1 1/4 length behind.
War Zone, ridden by Javier Castellano and carrying top weight of 119 pounds, was racing in mid-pack down the backstretch, but never made a move, finishing ninth.
Trademark, a 7-year-old South African bay gelding by Goldmark, has won two of three starts in the U.S. He was coming off a 4 3/4-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) on a yielding Saratoga turf on July 25. Prior to that, he was second to War Zone, beaten by a half-length in the one-mile Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont July 5.
Settling into a nice position while fourth at the rail, Trademark and Migliore tracked Quest Star and jockey Edgar Prado through a quick early pace of :22 4/5, :46 and 1:09 3/5. As 41-1 shot Political Attack, rated on the outside of Quest Star by Mark Guidry throughout, began to fall back coming out of the final turn, Migliore moved Trademark off the rail between the frontrunners. Trademark dueled with Quest Star through the upper stretch before taking command and drawing off easily.
"After the first turn, it appeared that Edgar's horse was going strongest, so I put myself right near him and looked for a seam," Migliore said. "I felt like the pace was strong enough, and my horse was in good enough position, that if I got a seam, I would have horse to get through. That's what happened."
Prado hoped to pull off the upset.
"He looked very good going around the first turn, but he was pressed for the first part of the race. A little bit of a slower pace and he could have won," he said.
Trademark earned $120,000 for his 11th career victory in 48 starts, pushing his career bankroll to $493,748. Trademark had lost seven consecutive races in the United Arab Emirates before transferring to the U.S.
McLaughlin quickly found out why.
"It was amazing how well he ran without Lasix," McLaughlin said of Trademark's Dubai career. "When we brought him here, he bled when we first worked him. Lasix is the big issue with him. He's a tough horse to train in the morning because he can take a strong hold, but the exercise riders have done a great job with him. Richie (Migliore) rode him perfectly, and that's what it's all about. You have to have the trip over the turf course."
Trademark will be pointed to the Shadwell Mile (gr. IT) in October, the trainer said.
The slight 5-2 favorite, Trademark paid $7.80, $4.40 and $3.70. Quest Star returned $9.20 and $6.80. Tap The Admiral, ridden by Mike Luzzi, showed for $8. The $2 exacta was worth $73.