Cuvee cruised to an easy 7 1/2-length win over a sloppy going in Wednesday's $150,000 Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga. The Steve Asmussen trainee covered the 6 1/2-furlong distance in 1:15.4. Favored Pomeroy was second, followed by Bashford Manor winner Limehouse 2 3/4 lengths back in third.
The son of Carson City broke quickly and easily before sprinting clear at the start. Cuvee and jockey Jerry Bailey maintained a clear advantage going into the far turn while setting a rapid pace, clocking :21.28 for the first quarter and :44.51 for the half. Cuvee and Bailey opened a commanding lead in midstretch then drew off under a vigorous hand ride.
"If you've been here, you're trained on the wet tracks this meet," Asmussen said. "He's worked very well. He acted like he liked the going today. He was away cleanly; he threw an ear forward and looked really relaxed. He was going good and I felt good. Then, they threw up :21 1/5, and I got a little nervous. It is pretty difficult to say, but it looks like he was within himself, even though he was going so fast."
Asmussen, who captured his first Saratoga Special, said Cuvee would likely skip the Aug. 30 Hopeful (gr. I) at Saratoga and aim for the Belmont Futurity (gr. I) on Sept. 14 instead.
This is the second straight Saratoga Special victory for Bailey, who won last year's running with Zavata. Bailey also won this race in 1991 with Caller I.D. and in 1988 with Trapp Mountain.
"I was surprised to be out on the lead, but he broke so well, I knew he would have something left," Bailey said. "I just didn't know how much he would have left, but I knew there would be something there. He was pricking his ears, but he was still very mature."
The winner returned $7.50, $3.50, and $2.60 as the 5-2 second choice. Pomeroy, the 17-10 pick, paid $3.30 and $2.20. Limehouse, the third choice at 3-1 in the field of eight, showed for $2.50 with Robbie Albarado in the saddle. The $2 exacta paid $21.60 while the $2 trifecta totaled $52.50.
"The other horse was doing everything so easily. I knew we might be in a little bit of trouble," said jockey Edgar Prado, who rode the runner-up. "The other horse was much the best today. My horse did everything I asked him to do. He was very professional, but he may have had a little trouble with the wet surface."
Cuvee entered the race with two wins from three starts. His only blemish came in the July 3 Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III), where he finished third behind Limehouse and First Money. He broke his maiden at first asking by 6 1/4 lengths on May 2 and scored an 8 1/4-length win in the May 26 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), both at Churchill Downs.
Racing as a homebred for Ron Winchell, son of the late Verne Winchell, Bruce Kline and partners Spendthrift Farm purchased a half-interest in the grade II winner last month. Verne Winchell died in November.
Cuvee is one of two foals of racing age from his dam, Christmas Star (by Star de Naskra), whose other offspring is stakes-placed. Christmas Star is a half-sister to millionaire Olympio, grade II winner Call Now, and the dam of Spendthrift stallion Wild Wonder.