Michael Tabor's Yonaguska earned his first graded stakes win and City Zip became the first horse since Dehere in 1993 to sweep Saratoga's three major juvenile stakes when the two finished on even terms in the $200,000 Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) Saturday. City Zip closed determinedly in the final 1/16-mile to earn a dead heat with Yonaguska, who had a 1 1/2-length lead over Macho Uno with a furlong to run. Macho Uno, between the winners, finished a neck back in third. The two winners split their previous two meetings, with Yonaguska winning the $82,000 Flash Stakes in June, and City Zip pulling away through the stretch to win the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) earlier in the Saratoga meet.
The victory was the fourth in a row for City Zip and his fifth career win from eight starts. Prior to sweeping Saratoga's Sanford and Saratoga Special (gr. II) Stakes, City Zip won the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park by 2 3/4 lengths over The Goo. He previously finished third in the Flash and second in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III). Linda Rice trains City Zip for owners Charles R. Thompson, Carl Bowling, and Lakland Farm. City Zip (Carson City--Baby Zip, by Relaunch) was bred in Kentucky by Stronach Stables, owner of third-place Macho Uno.
For Yonaguska the win marks third win from four starts. Besides the 2 1/2-length win over the Goo in the Flash Stakes, he won a maiden race by 9 1/2 lengths in his racing debut. Yonaguska (Cherokee Run--Marital Spook, by Silver Ghost) is trained by D. Wayne Lukas and was bred in Kentucky by Edward Evans. Both winners earned $80,000.
Yonaguska was part of a scramble for the early lead and gained a head advantage over T P Louie after a 1/2 mile run in :46.21. "We were pressured every inch of the way," said Lukas. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy; he didn't get any relief."
Under Jerry Bailey, the colt kicked clear in the stretch before City Zip, with Jose Santos in the irons, surged to the wire outside of Macho Uno. The two completed the seven-furlongs in 1:24.52 on a fast track.
"I had him where I wanted him, but actually, down the backstretch, the saddle started to ride up on his neck and I lost a lot of my leverage," said Bailey. "My plan was to angle him out once we got into the stretch, but I had to keep him on the rail because I didn't want to move with him."
Saint Verre finished fourth, 7 1/4 lengths behind Macho Uno. 107-1 longshot What's Up Dog closed from the back of the field for fifth, followed by Standard Speed, Evening Attire, One by the Knows, Jacksrbetter, Zone Judge, and T P Louie.
"When (City Zip) was dropping back, I was thinking something may be wrong," said Rice. "He has done that before, though. Once Jose got him to the outside, I could tell he found a new gear and was making up a lot of ground quickly."
City Zip went off favored and paid $2.90, $3, and $2.50. Second-choice Yonaguska returned $3.70, $4, and $3.20. The City Zip-Yonaguska exacta paid $9.20; the Yonaguska-City Zip exacta $12. (Chart, Equibase