Phantom Income and More Happy were the clear favorites in the 91st running of $150,000 Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Saratoga Aug. 15.
The drama-filled six-and-a-half-furlong sprint could not have gone any more differently for the pair of talented 2-year-old fillies.
Phantom Income was the victim of a gate malfunction, broke awkwardly, and was never involved in the race. Meanwhile, More Happy broke with no problems, bounded right to the lead and never looked back, taking the day’s feature race for trainer Bob Baffert.
After a steward’s inquiry, it was later determined that the gate issues were indeed responsible for Phantom Income’s problems and the daughter of Montbrook, who had won her initial maiden try by 10 1/4-lengths July 6 for trainer Richard Violette, was officially scratched from the race and deemed a non-starter.
For More Happy, a daughter of Vindication, out of Apelia, it was her second victory in as many attempts. Owned by Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds and John Sikura, More Happy paid $5, $3.10, and $2.60. Her gate-to-wire win was timed at 1:17.51. Previously, she had won on the Polytrack at Del Mar July 21.
Bred by Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds in Kentucky, More Happy finished three-quarters of a length ahead of A to the Croft, who came four-wide and closed nicely after being in sixth through a half-mile. The exacta (6-1) paid $35. Passion was another quarter-length back in third. The trifecta paid $126.
Winning jockey Rafael Bejarano said a good start was the key to the win. “I saw a lot of speed in the race. Mr. Baffert told me to let her break from the gate and see what happens and let her run and don’t take hold of her. That’s why I was letting go,": he said. "When nobody put pressure on, and we were on the lead, we were gone. She got a little tired (but) she ran good. She won comfortably. I didn’t have to push her too hard to win.”
Baffert is high on his young filly, who burned the first quarter in :21.88. “She’s a nice filly, and we thought a lot of her. I knew she was extremely fast," he said. "I told Rafael (Bejarano, jockey) that when she leaves, don’t fight her and don’t hold her back. She was getting tired in the end. She was tearing it up early. When I saw 44 and four, John Sikura said, `Oh my God, we’re dead.’ I said, `No, we’re not.’
“I would love to start her at two turns. I really don’t know what we’re going to do. We’ll have to play it by ear.”