Apparently when trainer Lisa Lewis brings turf horses to Saratoga Race Course from her base at Woodbine, she means business.
She scored last year at the Spa with two first-time starters at big prices on the grass and struck twice again since July 30.
A private trainer for owner-breeder William Schettine, Lewis sent out Rosa Salvaje July 30 to win the inaugural $100,000 Shakespeare Caress. The 4-year-old Chapel Royal homebred filly ran 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.50 and paid $41.40.
On Aug. 2, Lewis was back in the winner’s circle with a first-time starter by Big Brown named Archer Hill. The 2-year-old looked like Big Brown, going off as the favorite in a maiden special weight grass race and winning by 1 ½ lengths in a field of 10.
Both horses were ridden by jockey Alex Solis, who lands on most of Lewis’ turf winners.
“We’re stabled at Woodbine and brought six down, mostly New York-breds I thought needed to be here,” Lewis said Aug. 3 outside her Saratoga barn. “Archer Hill we bought in the yearling sale, and he trained really well."
Still, Lewis marveled Archer Hill went off as the favorite.
“Up there (at Woodbine), no one knows who I am. He had a good work, don’t get me wrong, but how does he have any talk about him?” she said.
The former New York-based trainer tried her luck on the West Coast from 2006-10 2010. Despite loving Santa Anita Park, she found she couldn’t get any traction with owners. Back in New York at the time, her memory was kept alive by the Carl Domino-trained turf horse Missinglisalewis.
Now, she has 16 horses at Woodbine and six at Saratoga. Schettine is providing her with good runners. He stands Chapel Royal, sire of Rose Salvaje, at Signature Stallions, his farm in Ocala, Fla. The stakes the filly won Monday was partly named after the stallion Shakespeare , owned in part by Schettine, who stands at Lane’s End. Archer Hill prepared for his racing career at the farm in Ocala.
“I trained for (Schettine) before, and I didn’t do that good for him,” Lewis said, “but he liked that I was honest, and he was patient because he breeds and has broodmares.”
That patience matches well with Lewis’ approach to training. She likes to run off of layoffs, with well-rested horses.
“I wish I could run only when I think I’m live,” Lewis said, laughing. “We don’t have that many horses. For us to run a 2-year-old this time of year, though, is unusual, so they are live because we only run them if they’re training forwardly. We’re picking our spots.”