Orientate romps to victory in the Forego Handicap.

Orientate romps to victory in the Forego Handicap.

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Saratoga Race Report (Cont.)

She's Awesome

Everyone loves an undefeated horse, and as long as WinStar Farm's Awesome Humor keeps winning, her aura will continue to grow. By winning the $200,000 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) on Aug. 30 for her fourth victory in as many starts, the daughter of Distorted Humor has established herself as the undisputed queen of 2-year-old fillies.

The Spinaway was no easy pickins'. In fact, Awesome Humor, despite her flawless record and victories in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) and Debutante Stakes (gr. III), was not even favored in the seven-

furlong race. That honor went to Skeedattle Stable's Forever Partners, who was coming off an 11-length romp in the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth, in which she sizzled 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.12, a tick off the track record.

Ridden by Pat Day, Awesome Humor battled every step of the way with longshot Hope for Love and Forever Partners through torrid fractions of :22.05 and :45.15. Turning for home it became a two-horse race, as Forever Partners pulled on even terms. The pair dueled for an eighth of a mile before Awesome Humor drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:24.36, paying a juicy $8.40. The 2-1 Forever Partners held on for second over 32-1 shot Midnight Cry, who was making only her second career start for trainer Kenny McPeek.

"I was a bit concerned about being in the one-hole," Awesome Humor's trainer Elliott Walden said, "but Pat looked comfortable on her. The track got to wearing on her a bit late, like it did all of them today. She's a professional filly and a joy to train."

Winning a grade I stakes with a daughter of Distorted Humor was extra special for Walden and WinStar. Walden trained Distorted Humor, a hard-knocking stakes horse who stands at WinStar Farm.

Big 'O' in Forego

Squirtle Squirt, the defending sprint champion and Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner, returned to the races off a seven-month layoff in the Sept. 1 Forego Handicap (gr. I) and ran head-on into the Orientate Express.

Squirtle Squirt simply wasn't ready for such a collision, and after blazing through fractions of :21.45 and :44.36 with Orientate breathing down his neck, he faded to fourth, beaten 8 1/4 lengths. For Orientate, his 2 1/4-length victory established him as the horse to beat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and for now justified Bailey's decision to jump off Squirtle Squirt in favor of Orientate. Owned by Robert and Beverly Lewis and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the son of Mt. Livermore has now won four consecutive stakes, including two at the Saratoga meeting.

In distances under seven furlongs on dirt, Orientate is six-for-six, with two lengths being his smallest margin. Just to show he's not strictly one-dimensional, he also captured the seven-furlong Commonwealth Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Keeneland this year and the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park and one-mile Sir Beaufort Stakes on the grass at Santa Anita last year, when Lukas was still trying to figure out just what he had.

Now he knows. He has the hottest sprinter in the country, who may not run again until the World Thoroughbred Championships, according to Lukas. Trainer Bobby Frankel, who finished second in the Forego with the fast-closing Aldebaran, was happy with Squirtle Squirt's race, and feels he'll improve by leaps and bounds off this effort. b

Pulling Up
Kiaran McLaughlin finally got the sweet end of the straw when he saddled Ibn Al Haitham to win the $111,500 Saranac Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Sept. 2. McLaughlin normally loses his top Maktoum family-owned horses to Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor once they make a name for themselves, but this time the reverse occurred, as the former Godolphin colt was demoted to the second string. Now racing in Sheikh Mohammed's name, Ibn Al Haitham defeated Finality by a half-length under Richard Migliore, with Irish Colonial finishing third...Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott went into the final day of the meet deadlocked for leading trainer honors with 18 wins apiece. Pletcher went one up on Mott, capturing the sixth race, a maiden grass race for 2-year-old fillies, and that was good enough to edge Mott, who had won the title eight of the last 10 years.

(Chart, Equibase)