Barry K. Schwartz' and Eugene Hauman's Turnofthecentury led all the way and gamely held off Aldo for a neck victory in Monday's $150,000 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Handicap at Saratoga.
Originally scheduled at 1 1/8 miles over the Mellon Turf Course, the race was run at that distance on the main track when rain cancelled all turf racing. As a result, the race was automatically downgraded from a grade II to a grade III by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Under the committee's format, the race will be reviewed to see if the original grade should be restored.
"I wanted to run him on a firm turf course," said trainer Mike Hushion. "He had been training well on it. When I looked at the paper, it looked like the race hadn't fallen apart because everyone had something to fall back on with the wet track.
A 3-year-old New York-bred son of Holy Bull, Turnofthecentury went to the lead under jockey Aaron Gryder, setting a pace of :24 1/5; :48 3/5; and 1:13 1/5 over the muddy going.
With an eighth of a mile remaining, Turnofthecentury was challenged on the inside by Polish Miner and on the outside by Aldo. He put away Polish Miner, then held on gamely to beat Aldo to the wire in 1:52 1/5.
"Aaron rode him perfectly, rode the hair off him," Hushion said. "He was getting out of gas at the eighth pole, but like a good horse, he kept on going. He drifted just enough to discourage the other horses. We'll just enjoy this right now. I'm not sure of future plans." Turnofthecentury returned $9.80 for his fourth win in eight career starts.
Parade Leader, the post time favorite of the crowd of 15,503 ran fourth, defeating only Slowhand. "He was just kind of floundering out there," said trainer Neil Howard. "He never really got hold of the racetrack. Hopefully, he comes back okay. I guess we'll take this as a lesson and keep him on the turf from now on."