Prohibitive favorite Henny Hughes took command of Saturday's King Bishop (gr. I) on the bend and turned the seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds into a romp on an overcast day at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Henny Hughes overtook the pacesetter Quietly Go as they completed a fast half-mile and took a two-length lead into the stretch. He opened up a 4 1/2-length edge near the eighth pole and finished evenly to win by 5 1/4 over an overmatched field as a popular winner. The winning time was 1:21 4/5.
"He broke running," said Velazquez. "All I tried to do was hold him together. He did it all by himself. It was just cruising speed the whole way. Everybody got tired chasing him. He's a tremendous horse."
Owned by Sheikh Rajid, the son of Sheikh Mohammed, Henny Hughes is expected to have one more start prior to the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, where he should be one of the favorites after his sparkling effort Saturday.
Henny Hughes, a son of Hennessy
who is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, ran second in the 2005 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He returned to action after an eight-month layoff to register a 10-length win in the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup (gr. III) over three rivals at Monmouth July 1, his last start before Saturday.
"The Vosburgh is where we'll go, and then the Breeders' Cup Sprint (Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs)," McLaughlin said. "The Vosburgh is against older, but he's ready for it."
Henny Hughes broke well to sit just off the pace of Quietly Go, who got away fastest from the rail and flew through an opening quarter-mile of :22 1/5 and a half in :44 3/5. Henny Hughes reached the front at that point and edged away under Velazquez. Songster, the second choice in the field who was close to the leaders while racing three wide for Edgar Prado, tried to challenge but gave up the chase with a furlong to go and finished fifth.
"He's a very special horse," McLaughlin said of Henny Hughes. "The way he ran at Monmouth last time was just a 'Wow!' to me. The way he ran today was most impressive. This is so important for the horse's future because it's a grade one. He loves this track. He was going fast - I was a little worried about the half - but he was just sitting there, and he can do it easily."
Star Dabbler, ridden by Richard Migliore replacing the injured Rafael Bejarano, came off the rail to split horses mid-stretch and earned second. Court Folly - Calvin Borel aboard - took third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up.
Mach Ride stumbled at the break to be last as they went down the backstretch, rallying mildly to finish fourth, seven lengths behind the winner.
Henny Hughes paid $3.50, $3.10, and $2.60.
Star Dabbler, making his stakes debut for trainer Michael Hushion, returned $12.80 and $6.40 while rounding out a $52 exacta.
"This was a really big effort by our colt," Hushion said. "We've always liked him a lot, ever since he was a yearling. He had two nice races together, so we were hoping the third race would be his best and be in the right place at the right time."
Court Folly, who won the Amsterdam (gr. II) in his last start in an upset at Saratoga, was $3.70 to show.
As a 2-year-old under the care of Patrick Biancone, Henny Hughes won the Saratoga Special (gr. II) and finished second in the Hopeful (gr. I) at the Spa. He also ran second in Belmont's Champagne (gr. I) last fall. He has never been worse than second in eight lifetime starts --with five victories and earnings of $884,820 for Zabeel Racing International.
Quietly Go, Laptop Computer, Master of Disaster, and El Nino trailed. Garibaldi and Lewis Michael were scratched.