Monday, July 28, 2014

R Free Roll makes her point in G2 HRTV Honorable Miss

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Monday, July 28, 2014


R Free Roll makes her point in G2 HRTV Honorable Miss


By Jon Forbes


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - R Free Roll, making her first start for trainer Danny Gargan, sprung a minor upset on Monday at Saratoga Race Course, shooting straight to the lead and holding firmly in the stretch to take the Grade 2, $200,000 HRTV Honorable Miss Handicap for filly and mare sprinters.


Leaving from post 3 under jockey Paco Lopez, R Free Roll beat Merry Meadow and 6-5 favorite La Verdad to the lead and had a clear advantage through an opening quarter-mile in 22.03 seconds. Merry Meadow drew within a half-length through a half in 45.15, but R Free Roll brushed away the bid and comfortably held off My Wandy's Girl to prevail by 1 ¼ lengths. Merry Meadow finished an additional 1 ¼ lengths behind My Wandy's Girl in third.


R Free Roll, who had the second-highest odds in the field of six, returned $15 for a $2 win wager. She completed six furlongs in 1:10.12 over a sloppy, sealed main track.


"I hit her a couple of times, waiting for the other horses, but nobody came," said Lopez. "I had a lot of horse and she ran really well today."


The HRTV Honorable Miss Handicap was the first graded stakes win for R Free Roll and for Gargan. The race also was Gargan's first win at Saratoga.


"We knew [going to the lead] was the only way we were going to beat [La Verdad]," said Gargan. "We took control of the race and made her have to chase. That was the game plan, and [R Free Roll's owner Rich Averill] is a pretty smart handicapper, and he's a pretty sharp guy to pick those things out."


The HRTV Honorable Miss was the second time R Free Roll had ventured outside the state of Florida, where she had won four stakes. She raced for trainer Ralph Ziadie for most of her career and was transferred to his son, Kirk Ziadie, and won the U Can Do It Handicap on May 31 at Calder Race Course.


"It's always fun when one comes in and they are doing this good," said Gargan. "We've had her for about two weeks and we worked her once. Kirk pretty much told us everything that there is. It's nice having a coach like that - anyone can be the quarterback."


R Free Roll, a 4-year-old owned by Averill Racing and Silver Oak Stable, improved her record to 7-5-2 in 17 starts and has earned $495,854, including $120,000 for her HRTV Honorable Miss victory.


Gargan did not rule out the possibility of R Free Roll running back in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina at seven furlongs on August 23 at Saratoga.


"It's obviously up to the owners where the next game is," said Gargan. "The way she ran today with this bunch, maybe. I don't think they were catching her late."


Speedinthruthecity was fourth, followed by La Verdad and Calistoga. Red Velvet was scratched.


The HRTV Honorable Miss ended a four-race winning streak for La Verdad, who had drawn post 1.


"[Jockey] Jose [Ortiz] said she really didn't like the mud in her face," said trainer Linda Rice. "We had a choice - whether to gun her and try to go with that other speed horse, or not. I left it up to Jose. I told him to figure it out on his own. [Depending on] how she broke, if he wanted to sit off it, fine; if he wanted to go after it, either way. Jose said she didn't like the mud in her face and she would have rather run on the lead. Next time, we'll go to the Ballerina, hopefully, and we'll be on the lead."



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