Michael Tabor's Zavata stalked a fast early pace and drew off to an authoritative 7 ¼-length victory Wednesday in the 100th running of the $150,000 Saratoga Special (gr. II) for 2-year-olds.The 6 ½-furlong Saratoga Special, which Zavata covered in 1:17 3/5, is the second major juvenile race of the meet. The $250,000 Hopeful (gr. I) at seven furlongs on August 31 is the division finale at the Spa.Trainer Patrick Biancone, who also trains Sanford Stakes (gr. II) winner Whywhywhy, will keep these two apart until the Breeders' Cup October 26 and while trying to keep them both happy and winning. For his part, Zavata looks like he couldn't be happier.His victory in the Saratoga Special was an easy one, although not without incident.
Awesome of Course shot out to the lead with Desert Warrior pressing as the fractions fell in :22 1/5; :45 3/5 and 1:10 4/5. Zavata, a son of Phone Trick, stalked from the outside under Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. He was shoved wide on the turn, but had too much class and won easily once Bailey got him together."He was caught a bit wide," Biancone said "But he is just so much better than the other ones. He makes it easy for me and Jerry (Bailey). He is just a galloping machine. I don't think you meet to many like him in a trainer's life. I think Whywhywhy will be a better horse going long, and Zavata for short has a lot of speed. At this stage, I would say that if Zavata comes out well, he will run in the Hopeful and Whywhywhy will run in the (Belmont) Futurity (gr. I, September 15)."Zavata is a very versatile horse. He can win in front, and today, he tried to settle a bit. We just need to teach him out to relax. For sure, he is bred for speed, but the mother is by Cox's Ridge, and there is a little stamina there. A good horse like Zavata makes his own statistics. He is just so much superior at this stage for the competition. I know it is a long time to the Kentucky Derby, but hopefully, he can stay sound and he will stay like that as long as possible."Previously unbeaten Lone Star Sky ran a distant second, and jockey Mark Guidry can't wait for a rematch."I had a couple of things happen," Guidry said. "One thing, as we were turning for home (Spite the Devil) tried to come through on the fence. I had to take up sharply and alter course to the outside. At the same time I was going though a spot, Bailey (on Zavata) climbed up on me and came over and closed the door. I had a lot of acceleration; I had a lot of horse. I would like to have seen a better horse race. I don't know if I could have beaten him still, but I would have liked to have seen a better race. The winner was very impressive, but I'll see him going a mile and a sixteenth."
Spite the Devil, Awesome of Course and Desert Warrior completed the order of finish. The winner returned $2.90 and keyed a meet-low exacta of $4.60. There was a minus show pool of $57,252.(Chart, Equibase)