The Bobby Frankel-trained Arvada, making her United States stakes debut, went gate-to-wire to tally a half-length victory in the second division of the $109,300 Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at Saratoga Race Course Sunday.
After winning just one stakes race all meeting, Frankel is closing out the Saratoga season on a hot streak. He won two races Saturday, including the Forego (gr. I) with Midas Eyes. With his eye on the end-of-the-year classics, the Hall of Fame conditioner also won the Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar Saturday with Etoile Montante.
The English-bred Arvada was left alone on the front end for most of the 1 3/8-mile trip and she opened up by 2 1/2 lengths in the stretch. Under strong urging from jockey John Velazquez, she dug in when challenged in the final furlong to hold off favored Spice Island, who nosed Film Maker for second. The final time was 2:14 on firm going for the 11 furlongs.
"It looks like she's alright, so maybe we'll go on to some bigger and better things," Frankel said. "The meet's been good. I haven't won that many stakes, but I've been winning races."
Frankel, second in the Saratoga trainer standings behind Todd Pletcher with 14 victories, has been winning at better than a 33% clip at the meeting.
Stakes-placed in group I company at Longchamp last year, the 4-year-old Hernando filly was coming off a 3 1/4-length win in a first-level allowance race on the Saratoga turf Aug. 11 at Sunday's distance.
She sped from gate but was in hand as Velazquez slowed things down to a crawl through easy fractions of :25 3/5, :50, 1:15 and 1:39. She picked it up from there, however, and was able to dig in as top choices Spice Island (2-1) and Film Maker (5-2) bore down.
"She broke well. I put her in the lead, and she kind of rated herself," Velazquez said. "Once we got to the backside, she started picking it up all by herself. I didn't have to do much until we got to the stretch. When I asked her she was there for me. It was kind of nice."
Spice Island was able to save ground for Edgar Prado before swinging out and getting the jump on Film Maker and Ramon Dominguez, who began her rally while three wide on the turn.
"My filly comes from way out of it, but she was right there," Prado said. "I was comfortable with where I was, but everybody else was there, too. She ran a good race, she was very game, and made a nice move in the stretch, but she just couldn't catch Arvada."
In spite of her two-race winning streak, the bay Arvada won for only the third time in 16 lifetime starts. She earned $65,580 for owner Gordon Giles Pritchard to push her bankroll to $174,651.
She paid $8.50, $4.80 and $3 as the third choice in the field of eight. Spice Island, a grade II winner last year who lost for the seventh straight time, returned $3.60 and $2.70. Film Maker, who was coming off a three-length win in the 1 1/8-mile All Along Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs, paid $2.50. Film Maker had never gone as far as 1 3/8 miles.
Aud, Lady of the Future, Nannycam, Primetimevalentine and Miss Hellie, followed them.