Santana Strings and Eibar Coa collared pacesetter Storm Surge in mid-stretch and dug in late to deny Social Probation and 6-5 favorite Silver Train in the $150,000 Amsterdam (gr. II) for 3-year-old sprinters at Saratoga Race Course Sunday.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, the chestnut colt – an $8,000 Ocala buy in August 2003 – won his second straight stakes event and his first against graded company for owner Millennium Farms.
Riding him for the first time, Coa kept Santana Strings, who was sent off at odds of more than 9-1, on the outside and clear of the traffic as the field bunched up on the turn of the six-furlong event.
The Florida-bred son of Wheaton
responded to urging in the stretch to register a one-length win over another outsider, Social Probation, who came flying late from far out of it for Calvin Borel. Silver Train, the 6-5 favorite in the field of nine, had every chance for Edgar Prado but came up a little short.
Storm Surge overtook Gamblers Slew early and set fractions of :21 4/5 and :45. Santana Spring settled comfortably behind the leaders.
"I wanted him to break good and stay close to the pace," Coa said. "That's the way the track has been playing. Everything worked out well. When I asked him to run, he took off."
Silver Train, also up close under Prado, appeared to have something left for the finish, but there was too much ground to make up. He was passed late by Social Probation and Borel.
The final time was 1:10.
Santana Strings, who broke his maiden for $50,000 at Arlington Park in July 2004, was transferred to Asmussen for the 2005 season after running second in last winter's Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds. He lost four in a row in stakes company this season, however, and after a sixth-place finish in the Derby Trial April 30, in which he was beaten by more than 33 lengths, Santa Springs went to the sidelines for more than two months. He returned July 2 at Lone Star Park with a two-length win in the Alysheba for Roman Chapa.
Asmussen won his second stakes race of the meeting. On Friday, he tallied career win No. 3,000 when Forest Music won the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II).
"He's a very nice horse," said Asmussen, who blamed himself for earlier failures by Santana Strings. "This is who he has always been. I just really made some wrong moves with him early."
Asmussen said he hopes that Santana Strings will next run in the King's Bishop (gr. I) on Aug. 27.
Sez Who Thoroughbreds bred the winner, who was produced by the Prospectors Gamble mare Smiling Santana. Santana Springs won for the fourth time in 11 starts overall and increased his earnings to $295,840.
He paid $21.20, $8, and $5.90 and topped a $294 exacta with Social Probation, who returned $15 and $6.10. Silver Train's show was $3.20 to show.
Silver Train was favored off his last race, a 6 3/4-length victory at six furlongs in 1:07 3/5 against allowance foes at Belmont Park July 2.
"Maybe he likes the track down there (Belmont) a lot more," said trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr.
Added Prado: "He broke well and settled behind the leaders. We had perfect aim at the leader. When I turned him loose, he didn't have that kick. He just ran even."
Storm Surge finished fourth.