Trainer Bobby Frankel earned another grade I victory Saturday when Squirtle Squirt went wire-to-wire to win the $200,000 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga. For Frankel, the win marks his third grade I stakes victory of the Saratoga meeting. The trainer also won the Whitney Handicap with Lido Palace on Aug. 4 and the Alabama with Flute on Aug. 18.
Squirtle Squirt set the early pace while slightly pressured by Keats, repulsed a bid from City Zip approaching the stretch, and then drew away in the stretch while easily holding Illusioned at bay in deep stretch to win the seven-furlong race by 3 1/4 lengths. Under Jerry Bailey, Squirtle Squirt stopped the timer in 1:21.97 on a fast track to earn his first grade I victory and first win in a race beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. Squirtle Squirt's victory was the fourth of the afternoon for jockey Jerry Bailey.
"Since he was the fastest of the fast horses in the race, I thought I would let him show his speed," said Bailey. "It wasn't the first quarter that was going to kill him because he has shown he can go :21 and change. My concern was the second quarter and the last eighth of a mile. Since I was able to give him a breather at those points, I had enough at the end."
Illusioned finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of City Zip, with Bay Head King, Shore Breeze, Keats, Orientate, and The Goo completing the order of finish.
David J. Lanzman's Squirtle Squirt (Marquetry -- Lost the Code, by Lost Code) earned $120,000 for his seventh win from 12 career starts. The marks his second graded stakes win and fifth overall stakes win. While trained by Joe Garcia Jr. as a 2-year-old, Squirtle Squirt won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) and three other stakes. This year, while trained by Frankel, Squirtle Squirt won an allowance race then finished second in two stakes, including the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) against older horses. Audrey Narducci bred Squirtle Squirt in Kentucky.
The 3-2 favorite, Squirtle Squirt returned $5, $3.40, and $2.60. Illusioned paid $7.40 and $2.90. City Zip paid $2.90. The winning exacta combination returned $38.20. (Chart, Equibase