Lansdon Robbins III's homebred Le Mi Geaux came from off the pace under Freddie Lenclud to pull a 9-1 upset in the $100,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO), the first graded stakes of the Saratoga meet, which opened July 23 under rainy skies.
Le Mi Geaux and Show Me the Bling took advantage of a speed duel between Stopspendingmaria and Let's Get Fiscal in the six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies. The pacesetters raced through opening splits of :21.81 and :45.87.
Le Mi Geaux and Show Me the Bling were side-by-side in upper stretch as they closed in on the tiring leaders. But Show Me the Bling, who was extremely green in only her second start, ducked in sharply under Julien Leparoux approaching the sixteenth-pole, leaving Le Mi Geaux to race on by en route to a 1 1/2-length victory.
The final time on the sloppy track was 1:13.67. Stopspendingmaria, the 2-1 favorite, took advantage of Show Me the Bling’s inability to keep a straight path and finished runner-up with John Velazquez aboard. Show Me the Bling settled for third.
Le Mi Geaux also became the first stakes winner for freshman sire First Samurai , who stood for $30,000 this year at Claiborne Farm. The filly, out of the Cryptoclearance mare Message Red, broke her maiden by more than seven lengths at second asking June 20 at Churchill Downs. She has now earned $95,700.
“That was a pleasant surprise," said winning trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. "We’re very happy. I have to give all the credit to the owner because he was the one who wanted to run her here. I thought she was in too tough. I thought the wet track might help us, but that was only a hope. I’m sure Mr. Robbins will want to go to the Spinaway (gr. I, Sept. 5).”
Le Mi Geaux paid $20.20, $7.70, and $3.60. The exacta (3-2) returned $71.50 and the trifecta (3-2-6) was $276.
In the $75,000 James Marvin Stakes (VIDEO) one race earlier, Godolphin’s Vineyard Haven successfully returned from a nearly eight-month layoff to win by 1 3/4 lengths in his impressive 4-year-old debut.
Last seen when finishing third in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) last November, the son of Lido Palace dueled with Flat Bold through aggressive splits of :22.41 and :45.03. With Alan Garcia aboard for Saeed bin Suroor, Vineyard Haven edged in front by three lengths at the eighth-pole and bounded home under a hand ride in the slop.
The final time for seven furlongs was 1:22.30. Half Metal Jacket was runner-up, 2 1/2 lengths in front of You and I Forever.
The gray/roan colt won for the fifth time in nine starts and captured his fourth stakes victory. The three-time grade I winner made amends for his previous trip to Saratoga when he crossed the wire first in the NetJets King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) last summer but was disqualified and placed second due to interference in the stretch. As a juvenile, Vineyard Haven won the Hopeful (gr. I) at Saratoga.
"He broke sharp, and that made it easy," said assistant trainer Rick Mettee. "Alan said that he never thought he was going to get beat. The Forego (gr. I, Sept. 4) would be the logical place to run, and a race like the Woodward (gr. I, also on Sept. 4) would be a bolder place to go. I just have to talk to Saeed."
Bred in Florida by Lynne Scace, Vineyard Haven upped his earnings to $746,500. He paid $3.30, $2.70, and $2.10.