Even-money favorite Pleasant Breeze, left alone on an easy lead by his six rivals in the $283,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Sunday at Saratoga, repulsed J.R. Holmes' challenge and drew off through the stretch to a 2 3/4-length victory. Catienus finished second in the race for the second consecutive year. Over a fast track, Pleasant Breeze completed the 1 1/4 miles, run over a fast track, in 2:02.17 with Jorge Chavez in the irons.
"After the gates opened, I found myself on the lead and I stayed there," said Chavez. "When I asked him to run in the stretch, I had plenty of horse left. He ran very smooth and was perfect throughout the race and he passed the wire good."
After the win, though, Pleasant Breeze was vanned off the track.
"When we came back galloping nice and easy, I felt he was missing a step," Chavez said. "He seemed to be favoring his left front."
X-rays taken later were negative. (See related story, Update
The win marks the second straight win at Saratoga for Pleasant Breeze, who improved his record at the track to four wins and three second-place finishes from eight Saratoga starts. Pleasant Breeze (Pleasant Tap--Sleepy Time, by Turkoman) earned $180,000 for owner William L. Clifton Jr. with the victory, his seventh career win in 18 races. The 5-year-old gelding, bred in Kentucky by Robert E. Masterson, won the Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. II) last year before being held winless until earlier this month, when he won a Saratoga allowance race. Between the victories, the H. James Bond trainee finished second in both the Clark Handicap (gr. II) and the Pimlico Special Handicap (gr. I).
Catienus finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Gander. J.R. Holmes came home fourth, followed by Kimberlite Pipe, Nite Dreamer, and Lager.
Pleasant Breeze returned $4, $2.70, and $2.40. Catienus paid $3.30 and $2.80. New York-bred Gander paid $3.70 to show. The winning exacta combination was worth $13.20. (Chart, Equibase