Heriberto "Ocala" Cedano, who had worked for Hall of Fame trainer Phil "P.G." Johnson for 33 years, finds himself in a new position when he saddles Fortunate Damsel in Monday's $150,000 Lake Placid Handicap (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs over Saratoga's Mellon turf course.Fortunate Damsel is the first graded stakes starter for Cedano, who inherited the stable when Johnson passed away on Aug. 6."I never expected it to happen this way," Cedano said. "I always thought that I would make the choice myself to move out on my own one day. Unfortunately, things happen in life and you have to do things unexpected. I am lucky to have been able to work for Mr. Johnson. He's won a lot of big races, and trained a lot of great horses. Everything I know I learned from him. He was a Hall of Fame trainer, but he was like a father to me. There is nobody better in my mind that I could have had as a teacher."
Fortunate Damsel is fresh off a third-place finish in the Lake George (gr. IIIT) and looks to rebound off that race. Cedano is pleased with his filly's performance so far. "She's doing well and has been training really good," he said. "She breezed five furlongs in 1:02 the other day. She's in good shape."The field for Monday's Lake Placid:
1. -- Minge Cove, John Velazquez, 118
2. -- Mambo Slew, Edgar Prado, 120
3. -- Lucifer's Stone, Cornelio Velasquez, 120
4. -- Vous, Richard Migliore, 118
5. -- Indy Charmer, Robby Albarado, 114
6. -- Ohbeegeewhyen, Jean-Luc Samyn, 114
7. -- Spotlight, Jerry Bailey, 116
8. -- Delta Sensation, Shane Sellers, 118
9. -- Fortunate Damsel, Javier Castellano, 116
10.ae -- Shadow Cast, no rider, 118
11.ae -- Bending Strings, no rider, 118
Note: Shadow Cast and Bending Strings are entered for the main track only.