With a desperate lunge in the final strides, Valid Video and jockey Joey Bravo had just enough to nip Great Notion at the wire in Saturday's $200,000 King's Bishop (gr. I) for 3-year-old sprinters at Saratoga.
In an exciting edition of the seven-furlong test, a weary Valid Video was victorious by a neck for owner Mack Fehsenfeld and trainer Dennis Manning. Ghostzapper, with Javier Castellano aboard, flew late to get third, just a head behind Great Notion and Pat Day, who set breakneck fractions and lost a heartbreaker at 16-1. The final time on a fast track was 1:22.
"He's a young horse and his better days are still in front of him," Bravo said. "To be honest, he is still intimidated being inside. I would have felt a lot more comfortable had he drawn an outside post. It worked out."
Posse closed well to be fifth behind During. The 6-5 favorite Zavata, ridden by Jerry Bailey, broke well but was dropped back to fifth down the backstretch and failed to fire. He finished eighth.
Patrick Biancone, who conditions Zavata, who came off a 5 1/4-length win in the Amsterdam (gr. II) on Aug.2, was disappointed, but not surprised.
"Jerry said he would have had to force him in order to go with Great Notion," he said. "He decided not to force him. He's never liked dirt in his face, and I think he was more surprised than anything. We knew seven furlongs would be tough, anyway. Trying to save him is not his style of running. I think Jerry made the right decision not to go with Great Notion. We'll have another fight another day."
Valid Video won the six-furlong Carry Back (gr. III) at Calder in his last start July 12. The Florida-bred son of Valid Wager has six wins in nine career starts and earnings of $565,700.
Great Notion rushed up to take the lead from During and jockey Cornelio Velasquez soon after the start and clicked off sizzling fractions of :21 3/5 and :43 3/5 while building a two-length advantage over During, who began to give way on the turn. Great Notion reached the six-furlong mark in 1:08 3/5 but was visibly tiring as Valid Video closed in.
Bravo tried to bring the gelding on the inside of the pacesetter in mid-stretch, but was unable to get through and switched out just in time to get the job done as the two leg-weary frontrunners struggled to the wire just ahead of the fast-closing Ghostzapper.
"This is the (first) stake for me at Saratoga and the first grade I of my career.," winning trainer Manning said "I've had some grade I placed horses before, but this is the first I ever won. I was a little leery we were down on the inside, and I was screaming `Joe, get him out! Get him out!' Once he got out, I knew he would go on about his business."
Day said he was pleased with Great Notion.
"I was very pleased with his performance," he said. "When he cleared the field, I hoped he would relax, prick his ears and catch his breath. But he was just going as fast as he could for as long as he could, giving 110 percent."
Manning said the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 is a strong possibility for Valid Video.
Casey Seaman bred the winner, who was purchased for $29,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sale in October 2000.
Valid Video, who picked up $120,000 for the victory, paid $17.60, $9.80 and $7.30. Great Notion returned $14.60 and $10.20. Ghostzapper's show price was $5.40. The $2 exacta was worth $197.