Continued from part 1A VICTORIOUS TEST RIDE The names said it all in the grade I Test Stakes July 28. First, Rick Wilson burned up the early pace with some Xtra Heat, which resulted in a Victory Ride for Prado. That pretty much was it. With Xtra Heat in a head-to-head battle on the lead through scorching fractions of :21.51 and :44.00, it set it up perfectly for 7-5 favorite Victory Ride, who drew off to a 3 1/4-length victory. Xtra Heat, winner of 14 of her 17 career starts, was game in defeat, finishing three lengths ahead of Nasty Storm, who overcame a horrendous start to get up for the show spot in a remarkable effort. Victory Ride, owned by G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and Louise Humphrey, and trained by Rusty Arnold, was making only her fourth career start, and was coming off a neck defeat in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I). The daughter of Seeking the Gold, who was purchased at the 1999 Keeneland July yearling sale for $475,000, covered the seven furlongs in 1:21.72. "You could never get a better trip than she had today," Arnold said. "It set up very well for her. We have no questions that she'll stretch out, and I think the Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) will be next." One of the more familiar sights at Saratoga the last two years has been that of a smooth-striding chestnut with a golden mane and tail gliding to victory over the Spa turf course. With his second consecutive victory in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) July 27, Hap has now captured four of his five starts at Saratoga, including three straight stakes scores. Decked out in the familiar red, white, and blue colors of the Paulson family, the blaze-faced Hap makes quite a picture against the lush Saratoga turf course. In the Baruch, the son of Theatrical exploded by the leaders after turning for home under Bailey and coasted to a 1 3/4-length victory in 1:47.06 for the 1 1/8 miles as the 1-2 favorite. Royal Strand closed well for second, two lengths ahead of Dr. Kashnikow. "He looks as good as he did last year," trainer Bill Mott said. "He's obviously more seasoned now. I'm thinking about the Arlington Million. There's a very good possibility that he and King Cugat could run in there. I might give Jerry the option of which one he wants to ride. I know he likes Hap an awful lot."
BUSTING OPEN THE SANFORD Buster's Daydream still hasn't woken up. Then again, maybe he's not dreaming at all. To all those who refuse to believe he's for real, the son of Housebuster is rapidly becoming a nightmare at the betting windows. Despite clear-cut victories in the Flash (gr. III) and Tremont (gr. III) Stakes at Belmont, Buster's Daydream still was sent off as the 4-1 third choice in the July 26 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) behind 6-5 favorite Proud Citizen, who was coming off a maiden victory. Yes, Proud Citizen was impressive breaking his maiden in a romp, but at the wire in the Sanford, it was Buster's Daydream the winner by 5 1/4 lengths in a snappy 1:10.55 over a muddy track. Proud Citizen finished a well-beaten fifth in the six-horse field. Buster's Daydream is owned by S. J. Bee Stable, which purchased the colt out of the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale for $38,000, and trained at Laurel by Timothy Tullock. At the start, John Velazquez sent Buster's Daydream to the front, then put away the early challengers and opened up a six-length lead at the eighth pole. He maintained a comfortable margin to the wire, defeating 14-1 Seeking the Money and second choice Heavyweight Champ. "One of the owners, Steve Barbarino Jr., had been reading the papers and didn't think we were getting enough respect," Tullock said. "And I thought the same thing, but I wasn't going to worry about it. To me, it was surprising he was 4-1. For horses that break their maiden, it's a tough call to go into stakes races, especially here at Saratoga. We will either look at the Hopeful (gr. I) or the Futurity (gr. I) next. The Breeders' Cup is our ultimate goal."
NO SOFT TOUCH Like Buster's Daydream, Touch Love just keeps rolling along winning stakes. And like Buster's Daydream, she was sent off as the third choice in the Schuylerville Stakes (gr. II) July 25 and won by 4 3/4 lengths under Jorge Chavez. Owned by Skeedattle Stable and trained by Tony Dutrow, the daughter of Not For Love had won her only two starts, including a victory in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont. Another bargain purchase, she sold for a meager $17,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall sale. In the Schuylerville, she charged through an opening on the rail and drew off in the final furlong to defeat Lakeside Cup and Lost Expectations, covering the six furlongs in 1:11.12.