The long-striding filly Humaita got into gear in mid-stretch to edge 9-10 favorite Where We Left Off by a half-length in the first division of the $110,400 first division of the Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at Saratoga Race Course Sunday.
The German-bred Humaita, returning to action after a two-month absence for trainer H. Graham Motion, raced outside the field while fourth and close up for the entire 1 3/8-mile journey. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez roused her in upper stretch and she responded gamely to win at odds of better than 5-1.
"I was a little concerned at the half-mile pole because it looked like he had to niggle her along a little bit," Motion said. "Once he got her in gear, she really ran on. She's a big rangy filly and with the pace being as slow as it was, she really had to pick it up."
Where We Left Off, ridden by Edgar Prado, was 1 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Savedbythelight, who led through easy fractions until the final furlong for Richard Migliore.The final time for the 11 furlongs on a firm course was 2:15 1/5.
Andreas Jacobs owns Humaita, a 4-year-old chestnut filly by Surumu who won for the third time in six starts in the United States. She transferred to the U.S. from Germany for the 2004 season after recording a listed win in four starts in her native country. Sunday's victory was her first in a graded or group stakes.
Savedbythelight maintained a half-length advantage over Alternate through fractions of :24 3/5, :50 1/5, 1:16 and 1: 40 1/5. Where We Left Off raced close up to the lead while along the inside and Humaita rated on the outside as they made their way slowly around the far turn.
"We really had the perfect trip, something that we couldn't ask for anything better," Prado said. "We were just beaten by the better horse here."
In the stretch, Where We Left Off waited for room, then slipped through along the rail to gain a narrow advantage, but last month's Matchmaker (gr. IIIT) winner couldn't hold off Humaita in the closing strides.
"I liked the fact that Edgar was stuck down on the rail and maybe he had to wait for a minute," Motion admitted. "I was hoping both (pacesetters) would keep him in. When Edgar got through, I didn't think Humaita was going to get there, but she really ran on and did it quite comfortably."
Humaita improved her career record to 4-2-1 in 10 tries while earning $66,240 for the victory. She's won $162,210.
The third choice in the field of nine, she paid $13.40, $4.20 and $3.20. Where We Left Off returned $2.70 and $2.30 while completing a $33 exacta. Savedbythelight's show was $3.70.
Motion said he would consider the $750,000 Flower Bowl (gr. IT) at 10 furlongs on Oct. 2 for Humaita's next start.
Lady Liberty closed encouragingly from last to finish fourth at odds of 41-1. She was followed by 9-2 second choice Alternate, Strategy, Ocean Silk, Shining Jewel and Gal O Gal.