Jockey Calvin Borel, who pulled a major upset in a stakes earlier in the summer at Churchill Downs, pulled another one today -- this time at Saratoga.
In just a four-horse field, Songster was bet down to less than 1-5, but it was Borel and Court Folly that won the Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II). Court Folly was the longest shot in the small field, at 10-1, but went by Songster in deep stretch as the heavy favorite finished second.
Borel won the Stephen Foster (gr. I) at Churchill aboard Seek Gold, who was 91-1.
Darley Stable's Songster had won three of his previous five races for trainer Tom Albertrani. With two scratches and just three opponents, the bettors lumbered on Songster. The other two runners in the field, Noonmark and El Nino, were 6-1.
It was Noonmark and El Nino that made the early lead as Edgar Prado sat third aboard Songster. Borel was happy to be in last, though never far back.
After a quarter in :21 4/5, Songster took the lead with ease as the field went a half-mile in :44 1/5. As they straightened away for the stretch run, announcer Tom Durkin realized Songster was not home free.
"Could it be Court Folly...Songster has done too much too soon." Durkin was right.
The time for the 6 ½ furlongs was 1:16.14.
Court Folly, by Royal Academy
, is owned by Bob Manfuso and trained by Ian Wilkes, former assistant to Carl Nafzger. It was the 3-year-old gelding's first stakes win, though he was second, beaten just a head, in the Matt Winn Stakes two starts back.
Court Folly paid $22 and $3.90, and Songster returned $2.10. There was no show wagering. El Nino finished third.
"It's a great honor to win at Saratoga," Wilkes said. "But I don't think it has sunk in. They set it up well today. I didn't know if we could beat Songster. He's phenomenal, and Tom (Albertrani) has done a tremendous job with him. My horse was fantastic. He shipped up here great. I gave him a light breeze over the track, and he was skipping over it. It came down to if we could beat Songster. That was the key. That's what we came here for –- the Amsterdam and the King's Bishop [grade I, $250,000, 3-year-olds, seven furlongs, Travers Day, Saturday, Aug. 26]."
"With all the speed in there, I just wanted to make one run," said Borel, who recorded his first victory at Saratoga. "They went quicker than I thought they would. I was surprised I went by (Songster) so fast. He's going to love the seven furlongs of the King's Bishop."
"I thought he was in great position," Albertrani said of Songster. "The horse took (Edgar Prado) out there on his own. He had the other two horses well beaten. Edgar said he responded, but the other horse (Court Folly) just outran him. The winner ran a big race."