Sixty Seconds, who made her North American debut just last month, captured Monday's Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a head over Primetimevalentine at Saratoga. Alternate was just a neck back in third. The winner is trained by Christophe Clement for the family of the late Gerald Leigh.
Sixty Seconds, the 3-1 second choice in the field of nine, was in the hunt throughout the 11-furlong race. Her stablemate, Midnight Angel, led through the first mile, while Sixty Seconds and another Clement trainee, favored Mariensky, traded the fourth and fifth positions through the first eight furlongs.
The field, which was strung out through the first tour of the inner turf course at Saratoga, bunched up leaving the final turn and entering the stretch. It was at that point that Sixty Seconds and jockey Jose Santos pushed ahead, but in the final yards, Primetimevalentine and Alternate, who was never worse than third through the entire race, made her earn the win with a strong duel to the wire.
The winner finished in 2:13.96, after splits of :24.60, :48.95, 1:13.69, and 2:01.59. Sixty Seconds paid $8.50, $4.70, and $3.70, with the 8-10 exacta returning $68.50. Sunstone was three-quarters of a length back in fourth, with five lengths separating fifth-place Lady of the Future and Dynamic Lisa. Mariensky finished seventh, Cozie Advantage eighth, and Midnight Angel was last.
"It was a great race and a great finish," said Clement, who also saddled beaten favorite Mariensky. "Sixty Seconds is a very good filly. We've lost a few tight ones, so it is nice winning a photo in a race like this. I am just delighted with her."
Clement will consider such grass route races at the Belmont Park Fall Championship Meet as the grade I, $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at 10 furlong son September 27 and Aqueduct's grade II, $150,000 Long Island Handicap at a mile and a half on November 15.
Said Santos: "We had a great trip. She was in a long drive from the five-eighths pole. She just kept pushing and pushing and just kept coming. She's the perfect horse for this distance."
While long grass races are in Sixty Seconds' future, graded stakes winner Mariensky's schedule is not so certain.
"Mariensky was not moving right in the stretch," Clement said. "She is a much better filly. We will get her back to the barn and take a look at her."
Earlier in the day, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board announced that Santos had withdrawn an appeal of a careless riding suspension he got on July 23rd when his mount, Light Night, was taken down after winning the sixth race and placed second. Santos will begin a 10-day suspension that will run from August 26 through September 4. he will be eligible to ride on Friday, September 5, Opening Day of the Belmont Park fall Championship Meet.
"Now, I can go and relax a little," said Santos, whose spring and summer was highlighted by victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Funny Cide. "I've needed time to relax. I've been working really hard since the Kentucky Derby."
The Leigh family's farm, Eydon Hall Stud, is in England, but Sixty Seconds (Centaine--Fifteen Reasons, by Sound Reason) came to the U.S. from Australia, via her home country of New Zealand. Her last start prior to her U.S. debut at Belmont Park, was at Flemington in Australia. The Leigh family purchased the 5-year-old mare privately in 2002 and based her with Robert James, who saddled her for six starts in Australia and New Zealand. Her biggest win Down Under was in the Arrowfield Stud Stakes (Aust-I) in March 2002. Sixty Seconds' overall record is 14-6-1-2 with $298,229 in earnings.