Sabellina Takes Narrow Yaddo Handicap Victory

Edited from NYRA reports
Joe Aquilino registered his first Saratoga stakes victory Wednesday afternoon as Jay Lieberman's and Mark Scharfman's Sabellina and Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day out-fought On the Bus and Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey for a nose victory in the 25th running of the $114,800 Yaddo Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares at nine furlongs on the turf.

A 66-year-old retired New York City fireman, Aquilino has won several stakes in New York since taking out his license in 1977, with such horses as Badge, Dr. J, Haunting, Liveitupnow, No Parole, One Never Nose, Pirate Performer, Risky Buy and Stormy Krissy. But this was his first one at Saratoga.

"I made a comment to the owner when she won her first race," Aquilino said of Sabellina, a 3-year-old Langfuhr  filly who got five pounds from 4-year-old On the Bus. "I said, `We got our Yaddo horse.' They were laughing, but then she won the next one and the next one and went through her New York-bred conditions. After her second start, she seemed to get into trouble early all the time, and I always liked Langfuhr [her sire] for turf races, so I figured we should try the grass."

She has now won four in a row on the grass, and her Yaddo victory came before a crowd of 21,177.

Sabellina took her time as Perfect Energy and Raffie's Dream led the field on the yielding Mellon Turf Course through fractions of :24 3/5; :50 and 1:15 4/5. With the rail out 12 feet, Bailey made his move with On the Bus coming off the turn.

But so did Day.

"I got a good trip," Day said. "I was able to get her back and tucked in. She got a little strong on the backside, but we were able to stay behind [On the Bus]. I bided my time, until we came off the turn. I let her out and she started to run and went right by that horse about a neck or a half-length and kind of got to waiting on her a little bit. Jerry's horse came back to it, and we were able to hang on, but she was backing up a little bit at the wire."

Sabellina won in final time of 1:53 and paid $9.40 to win.

"We ran her once on a `good' turf and she handled that well, so I thought she would be fine today," Aquilino said. "I was a little disappointed because [jockey Jorge] Chavez won three races on her, but he didn't know about the Yaddo. He had a previous commitment. When she got in with 110 pounds as a 3-year-old and I saw Pat Day available, I said, `Let's go for it.' She didn't kick in right away and I started to worry a little bit. Once she passed the eighth-pole, she dug in and came running.

"I'll probably give her a little rest and point her to New York Showcase Day (at Belmont Park, Saturday, Oct. 23)."

Lady Libby was third, followed by Big Tease, Dynamic Lisa, The Lamp is Lit, Brandala, Beebe Lake, Raffie's Dream, Some Irish Legend and Perfect Energy. Board Elligible, Market Guru, Miss Baba, S'more Smoke and Sicilian Princess were scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)