Peacock Racing Stables’ Gunnevera, left far behind early by his four rivals in the $200,000 Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II), rallied late under Javier Castellano to upend 2-5 favorite Recruiting Ready, who was disqualified from second after an inquiry and objection.
Video: Saratoga Special S. (G2)
There was a steward’s inquiry concerning the run at the three-furlong pole and an objection by Ricardo Santana, rider of Tip Tap Tapizar, against Irad Ortiz Jr. and Recruiting Ready. As the compact field went into the bend, Recruiting Ready came in and bumped Tip Tap Tapizar, who in turn bumped Sonic Mule.
Recruiting Ready was disqualified and placed behind both Tip Tap Tapizar and Sonic Mule. The official order of finish was Gunnevera, Tip Tap Tapizar, Sonic Mule, Recruiting Ready, and Get Lit N Get Wild.
Get Lit N Get Wild, from the rail, broke on top and zipped through an opening quarter-mile in :21.69 while being chased by Recruiting Ready, Sonic Mule, and Tip Tap Tapizar. Gunnevera was far back. As the field turned for home after a half-mile in :45.04, Recruiting Ready opened a clear lead and looked home free in the stretch, but was caught inside the sixteenth-pole by Gunnevera, who stormed down the center of the track. The six-furlong split was 1:10.78.
The winner is trained by Antonio Sano.
Gunnevera paid $20.40, $8.20, and $10.20 across the board. Tip Tap Tapizar returned $8.50 and $11, while Sonic Mule paid $5.40. The $2 exacta 4-3 exacta paid $153.50.
Out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled Rage, Gunnevera was bred in Kentucky by Brandywine Farm and Stephen Upchurch. The chestnut colt was a $16,000 Keeneland September sale graduate purchased by Sano from Jim and Pam Robinson’s Brandywine consignment.
Gunnevera was making his fourth start in the Special and first at the Spa. His first three outings came at Gulfstream Park.
He was second against maiden special weight company June 10 going five furlongs, and then was fourth in the Birdonthewire Stakes July 2. He then came from eighth to break his maiden in a 5 1/2-furlong special weight race July 16.
Gunnevera is now 2-1-0 from four starts and has earned $156,000. Last year's Special was won by classic winner Exaggerator .