Both the runner-up, Cribnote, and the show horse, Munnings, had nightmare trips, opening the door for Vineyard Haven to score an easy 2 1/4-length score at odds of 9-1 for trainer Bobby Frankel. The 23-year-old Alan Garcia, winning his first Saratoga riding title, guided Vineyard Haven to victory.
Munnings, a $1.7 million yearling who went off favored at 2-1, was left at the gate at the start in his second lifetime start and ran well to finish third after making a wide bid into the stretch.
Vineyard Haven, meanwhile, broke well and assumed the lead from Cribnote soon after the start of the seven-furlong race. He maintained his edge over Cribnote as they rounded the turn when Cribnote bore out badly at the top of the stretch and fell back. Vineyard Haven kept on determinedly and was in command in the final furlong as Cribnote, ridden by Rajiv Maragh, got straightened out and charged down the outside of the home stretch to gain second by two lengths over Munnings and John Velazquez. The final time was 1:23.40 on a fast track.
Frankel co-owns the winner, a son of Lido Palace--Princess Aloha, by Aloha Prospector, along with Louis Lazzinnaro and Diamond Pride LLC. They purchased Vineyard Haven privately from Lynne Scace after the gray colt broke his maiden at first asking by 4 1/4 lengths at Calder Race Course June 28.
“Obviously, everything counts,” said Frankel. “I was worried about a lot of horses. I wasn’t thinking about Cribnote when we were running. I liked this race. It’s a big thrill. I know we’ll be getting some good offers because he won like a really nice horse. I think we’ll keep him, but it depends. We’ll play it by ear and enjoy this race."
The trainer said the Champagne (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 4 was a possibility for Vineyard Haven's next start.
In spite of the problems his chief rivals had, Vineyard Haven earned this one. He fought Cribnote for the early advantage and set swift fractions of :22.68 and :45.17 while under pressure from second choice Break Water Edison. He shook off that rival as well as the looming Desert Party and Munnings to open up a clear lead in upper stretch and increased his advantage in the final eighth of a mile. Under strong urging from Garcia, no one seriously threatened him late.
“It’s good for my career right now," Garcia said of his jockey title. "There are a lot of good young riders here. I am so proud of being leading jockey at Saratoga, and I am thankful for everyone that gave me the opportunity.”
In his first start for Frankel, Vineyard Haven ran third on a muddy track in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II), a race won by Desert Party, who bumped hard with Break Water Edison at the start of the Hopeful and tired in the stretch.
Vineyard Haven's second win in three starts was worth $150,000 and increased his earnings to $179,000. Scace bred the winner in Florida.
The third-longest shot in the field of eight, Vineyard Haven paid $20.40, $8.80 and $4.90, topping a $2 exacta worth $149.50 with Cribnote, who returned $6.60 and $3.70. The latter beat New York-bred maidens by 13 1/2 lengths on a good surface at Saratoga in his last start July 27.
Cribnote showed plenty of ability in spite of his troubles.
“He’s very talented,” said trainer Rick Violette Jr. “All the way down the backside, it looked like he was afraid of horses inside of him. I think he was tons the best today. I thought maybe when he turned the corner coming for home, he might finally cooperate and straighten out. He was still looking at them like they were ghosts inside of him and he wanted to get away from them. For him to be second is pretty miraculous.”
Munnings, owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier and trained by Todd Pletcher, was $2.80 to show.
Break Water Edison finished fourth, ending trainer John Kimmel’s streak of seven consecutive winners at Saratoga. Notonthesamepage, Desert Party, Medaglia d'Onore and Cognito followed.
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