Pacesetting Leroidesanimaux had things all his own way with John Velazquez in the irons Saturday to win the $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Saratoga turf for the Brazilian bred's seventh straight victory.
The winning time of 1:39.92 for the 1 1/16-mile distance broke the Saratoga inner turf course record of 1:39.99 set by Roman Envoy in 1992.
Bobby Frankel's 5-year-old son of Candy Stripes was making his first start since winning the Frank Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) at Santa Anita March 5. That, and the fact that all his previous United States wins came in Southern California added a little intrigue to the race.
But the 3-5 favorite Leroidesanimaux, carrying highweight of 122 pounds, was more than ready. He jumped to an early 1/2-length lead after a :23 1/5 opening quarter mile, then clicked off hot fractions of :47 1/5 and 1:10 3/5. Leroidesanimaux put Steel Light away as they hit the top of the stretch and, under steady pressure from Velazquez, the chestnut kept his rivals at bay to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
"When he gets competition, he tries even harder," said Frankel. "When horses come to him, he'll go on by himself."
It was the fifth time that Velazquez, who replaced regular rider Jon Court, won the Fourstardave, a traditional Travers undercard stakes race.
"Dropping the reins down the lane was my anxious moment," Velazquez said. "Other than that, he was doing it well the whole time. As soon as the other horses came to him, he just kept going."
The stalking Silver Tree rallied along the inside to edge Steel Light by one length for second in the field of six.
Leroidesanimaux's streak, which began 17 months ago, includes five graded stakes wins, among them back-to-back grade I races in Hollywood Park's Citation (gr. IT) and the Kilroe, his last two starts prior to the Fourstardave. Frankel is aiming the T N T Stud-owned Leroidesanimaux toward the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Oct. 29.
"He's been training really well, and he's been ready to run for a while," Frankel said. "It's a little late in the year to be trying to go a mile and a half with him, so our objective is the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT)."
Leroidesanimaux has won eight of 11 career races and boasts earnings of $744,337.
He paid $3.40, $2.50, and $2.30. Silver Tree, Jerry Bailey aboard, returned $2.80 and $2.60, Steel Light, an improving Stravinsky
gelding owned and bred by Moyglare Stud and ridden by Corey Nakatani, was $3.70 to show.
America Alive, Senor Swinger and Hotstufanthensome trailed.