Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Michael J. Caruso’sWondrwherecraigisutilized a prominent trip under Luis Saez to capture Friday’s $120,000 Tale of the Cat at Saratoga Race Course.
Foolish Ghost was away quickly under Joel Rosario, but Wondrwherecraigis, who broke inward from post 5 and may have clipped heels with Wind of Change, was sent to the lead by Saez to mark the opening quarter-mile in 22.68 on the fast main track.
Wondrwherecraigis led the field to the turn with Wind of Change launching his bid outside of the pace-pressing Foolish Ghost, while My Boy Tate advanced up the rail through a half-mile in 45.17.
Out of the turn,Wondrwherecraigiscontinued to find more while drifting to the center of the track as Foolish Ghost chased in vain with My Boy Tate finding his best stride closer to the rail. Wondrwherecraigis, game to the wire, stayed on strong to secure the 2 3/4-length win in a final time of 1:09.53.
Russell was full of praise for the hard-trying Wondrwherecraigis, who provided Russell her first stakes score at Saratoga.
“He’s tough. He ran hard,” Russell said. “He kept his head down and kept fighting to the wire. That’s the ‘Craig’ we know and love.
“This horse is special, and we’ve had him in the barn for a long time,” Russell added. “The partners have let us do what we’ve needed to with him and it’s just rewarding to see patience pay off. You win a stake at Saratoga, that’s a big deal. It’s so nice to see something go the right way for such a cool horse. He’s a gelding and if we keep doing things right by him, he’ll be around for a while.”
Wondrwherecraigis, a now five-time winner, crossed the wire second in last year’s Gold Fever at Belmont, but was disqualified and placed third. He finished fourth in the Grade 2 Amsterdam last August at Saratoga in his prior stakes engagement.
Russell said Wondrwherecraigis could possibly target the Grade 3, $200,000 DeFrancis Memorial Dash on September 18 atLaurel Park.
Saez said Wondrwherecraigis responded well once straightened away after the break.
“He was pretty quick. The plan was to try to break from there and see where we are,” Saez said. “It felt like someone clipped heels with him and he fell a little bit behind right after the start, but he’s a pretty fast horse and at the second jump he was right there. He just kept going, he’s a pretty nice horse.”
My Boy Tate completed the exacta by 2 1/4-lengths over Foolish Ghost. Wind of Change, Shashashakemeup and Bon Raison rounded out the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by Fleur de Lis Stables, Wondrwherecraigis banked $66,000 in victory while improving his record to 8-5-0-1. He paid $8 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Saturday with an 11-race card featuring the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite in Race 9 and the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap in Race 10. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.