Favored Sweet Reason registered her third lifetime grade I victory when she came from well off the pace to capture the $500,000 Longines Test Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 2 at Saratoga Race Course (VIDEO).
Irad Ortiz Jr. brought the daughter of Darley stallion Street Sense wide through the drive to win by one length over outsider Miss Behaviour, scoring for Treadway Racing Stable and trainer Leah Gyarmati. The winning bay filly was bred in Kentucky by Brent Harris, Beth Harris, and Darley.
Sweet Reason, who was coming off a victory in the TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park and won the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) last summer at Saratoga, was the 2-1 choice in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies. Sweet Reason, now 3-for-3 at the Spa, completed the seven-furlong Test in 1:22.31 on a fast track.
Miss Behaviour edged the fast-closing Little Alexis for second by a nose, with pacesetter Fiftyshadesofgold another nose back in fourth.
Gyarmati was thrilled by the effort from Sweet Reason, who surpassed $1 million career earnings with the victory.
"This seemed like the perfect spot for her—she loves Saratoga, she's shown she likes seven-eighths, her one-turn mile (in the Acorn) at Belmont was great, she came out of that race great—so this was the logical spot," Gyarmati said of Sweet Reason.
"I was very excited about running her here. It came up a very salty field with some really nice fillies in the race, so this was probably her biggest test yet, in my opinion. She was doing really well, though, so win, lose, or draw, I felt I'd done everything I could and she was as good as I could get her. I went in feeling good about the race."
Sweet Reason was no factor up the backstretch after stumbling a bit and drifting out at the start. She settled seventh as Fiftyshadesofgold, along the inside, took the early lead from Miss Behaviour, who broke best leaving from the far outside. Fiftyshadesofgold was pushed along by Southern Honey with Miss Behaviour racing third through solid quarter mile fractions of :22.66 and :45.44.
With Sweet Whiskey rallying along the inside in the stretch, Fiftyshadesofgold held on stubbornly to the furlong mark and dug in for the drive. Sweet Reason, roused on the turn by Ortiz, angled to the outside coming into the stretch, worked her way through traffic to challenge.
Fourth while charging down the middle in the final furlong, Sweet Reason hit the front in deep stretch and drew away quickly under a strong hand ride in a powerful performance. She paid $6.20, $3.90, and $3 as the 122-pound topweight.
"She was perfect," Ortiz said of the winner. "She broke from behind, relaxed and when I asked her to go, she just took off."
Miss Behaviour turned in a game second at odds of 15-1 with Javier Castellano aboard, returning $10.60 and $7.80 and rounding out a healthy $72.50 exacta with the favorite.
"My first grade I try, at Saratoga, it was just kind of a dream come true day," said trainer Phil Schoenthal. "I thought she'd run big and I trained her trying to get the extra distance. At the eighth pole, I thought she might get home, but I'm proud of her. She ran a great race. I'm fighting back tears. It was a great race."
Little Alexis, shipping in from Florida off a minor stakes win at Gulfstream Park July 5, finished strongly to claim the show spot at 25-1, paying $9.40.
Fiftyshadesofgold was followed home by, in order, Sweet Whiskey, Thank You Marylou, Tea Time, Bird Maker, Southern Honey, and Street Story.
Out of the stakes-place Mt. Livermore mare Livermore Leslie, a half sister to graded stakes winner Highland Gold, Sweet Reason was a $185,000 purchase by Jeff Treadway from the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Bettersworth Westwind Farms. She is a half sister to grade III winner Don't Forget Gil, runner-up in the 2009 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I).
Sweet Reason began her career at Saratoga last summer with a smashing debut win over maidens one year ago, followed by a 5 3/4-length romp in the seven-furlong Spinaway Sept. 1. Following a runner-up finish in the Frizette (gr. I) in October, she completed her 2-year-old campaign with a fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
The filly was ill during the winter and blood work found some deficiencies that were treated. She won an allowance/optional claiming race at Aqueduct Racetrack upon her return in March, then was a well-beaten third in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) April 5. Brought back two months later, she signaled her return to top fitness by outlasting Sweet Whiskey by half a length in the Acorn at odds of 9-1.
"I'm thrilled that she's continuing on to be a good horse in her 3-year-old year," Gyarmati said. "It's a first for me to have a nice horse that doesn't just pop up and run one or two big races, but it seems like she's got a nice career going and keeps improving. It's exciting."
Sweet Reason improved her career line to 5-1-1 in eight starts with earnings of $1,229,000.
Princess Violet and Red Velvet scratched.