Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won a lot of races. And, he has seen a lot of weather forecasts. On July 31, he won the off the turf Lake George Stakes at Saratoga with Be Fair.
The New York area has seen an inordinately high amount of rain lately, and Be Fair had never raced on turf in seven career starts, having won her first two starts and then finished no better than fourth in her subsequent races, six on dirt and one on a synthetic surface.
To her credit, the 3-year-old Exchange Rate filly, owned by Westrock Stables, had competed in four straight grade I races.
The Lake George was carded as a grade II on the grass. A race removed from the turf because of weather loses its one grade until the race is examined by the Graded Stakes Committee.
With the rain forcing the race off the grass course, Keertana, Kiawah Cat, Lady Shakespeare, Miss Keller, and Strike the Bell were all scratched, leaving a four-horse field to run nine furlongs on a sloppy main track. Ain’t Love Grand, who was entered for main track only, was scratched before the decision was made to switch the Lake George.
Jockey Rajiv Maragh figured the easiest thing was to keep his silks clean, and he put Be Fair right on the lead. She opened up by three lengths, saw the gap close to a length, but then widened down the stretch to win by four lengths over even-money favorite Mary’s Follies.
"I don’t know if (the sloppy track) was the defining thing here. It’s easy to point to that, and obviously she had an affinity for the track, but she’s trained awfully well up here anyhow," Lukas said.
"I tried her a couple times and I mismanaged her – putting her in the Prioress (gr. I) and the Acorn (gr. I) and stuff. She’s not a sprinter. She’s got a beautiful cruising speed and if she gets into it, she’s pretty effective. I told him at some point you’re going to have to give her a little breath of air. I said just let her get a deep breath and then come again, and I think when that horse (Mary’s Follies) ran to him, he just let her have that air and then, boom, there she came again.
"I would have run her on the turf if it had been normal, but I would not have taken a filly of her caliber and tried them on the turf in these conditions for the first time. She’s never been on the turf, never even worked on it, so I wasn’t going to subject her to yielding turf."
The speed-favoring nature of the track "enhanced our chances, Maragh. "You saw the horse in the last race (R Clear Victory) went wire-to-wire. She (Be Fair) broke sharp. I studied this filly’s films, and she seems like she has a high cruising speed. I was trying to keep separation between me and the rest of the field. I wanted to give her a breather, and that’s when (Mary’s Follies engaged her), but I knew she had a lot left."
Be Fair cut fractions of :23.81, :47.52, :1:11.90, and 1:36:84 and complete the 1 1/8-mile in 1:50.61. She paid $8.40 and $3.50, with no show wagering because of only four betting interests. Mary’s Follies returned $2.60 to show.
The Best Day Ever ran third and Consequence finished fourth.
Out of the Wild Again mare Go Donna Go, Be Fair was bred in Florida by Milan Kosanovich. She was sold at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s 2008 juvenile sale for $37,000.