Billy R. Tucker's homebred Private Horde sailed over the sloppy stretch run at Saratoga Sunday in winning the $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) to gain the first graded stakes victory of his career.Ridden by Jason Lumpkins, the son of Brunswick was able to settle in behind the blazing pace set by 1-2 favorite Shake You Down and Mike's Classic, then blew by on the outside in the stretch to capture the six-furlong Vanderbilt by five lengths in 1:09 4/5 on a sloppy track. Private Horde was 10-1 in the five-horse field. Mountain General closed from far back to get second by a head over Mike's Classic, keeping the Scott Lake-trained favorite off the board by a neck."I was glad someone went with Shake You Down," Lumpkins said. "I had him in a good spot. He responded when I asked him and he kind of shifted in when he got to Mike's Classic. I straightened him out and he took off."Shake You Down had a five-race winning streak broken, including stakes victories in his last three outings. The gelding was coming off an 8 1/4-length win over Private Horde in the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Calder July 12. Joe Cain, who stables at a farm in Russell Springs, Ky., trained the winner. Cain, like Lumpkins, was making his first start at Saratoga this season. For Cain, it was his first trip to Saratoga. Cain said Private Horde encountered difficulty at Calder and never had a chance while finishing second."The stakes coordinator called me up and asked me if I'd consider (running in the Vanderbilt) and there wasn't anything else around coming up for this much money or graded stakes," Cain said. "The owners talked me into coming and we made the right decision. I was hoping that Mike's Classic would put some pressure on Shake You Down and those two would soften each other up. It played out exactly how I thought it would."
Ridden by Mike Luzzi, Shake You Down jumped away to a half-length lead over Mike's Classic and Ray Ganpath, but could not shake free through an opening quarter mile of :22 and a :44 3/5 half. By the time they had completed five furlongs, Mike's Classic was edging ahead briefly after going :56 3/5. The sizzling splits left the frontrunners vulnerable in mid-stretch and Private Horde took full advantage.Luzzi and Lake were puzzled by the performance of shake You Down, who has won five of six races on off tracks, including the True North Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont June 7."He has shown he can handle the wet conditions before," Luzzi said. "I knew I was in trouble when he wasn't aggressive going into the turn. Perhaps it just wasn't his day here.""He broke and (Mike's Classic) was pressing him on the outside and they went fast," Lake said. "Mike did what he thought was right."The 4-year-old Private Horde, who had a four-race winning streak to start the year, has eight career triumphs in 22 starts. He has started at six tracks in 2003, but is not Breeders' Cup nominated. The bay colt earned $120,000 to push his career bankroll to $440,877.He paid $22, $7.40 and $12.80. Mountain General, ridden by Pat Day, returned $7 and $12.40. Mike's Classic show price was $9.70."I'm very pleased with his effort," Day said of the runner-up. "None of them really came back to us, but he ran hard to finish second."(Chart, Equibase)