Monday, September 1, 2014

Ring Weekend rings out 2014 Saratoga meet in Grade 3 Saranac

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Ring Weekend rings out 2014 Saratoga meet in Grade 3 Saranac


By Heather Pettinger


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds' Ring Weekend showcased his versatility to close out the stakes season at Saratoga Race Course on Monday with a 2 ¾-length victory in the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac for 3-year-olds.


Winner of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and runner-up in the Calder Derby, the gelding had proved to be a capable dirt runner on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year. But after a solid second-place finish in a turf maiden race at Gulfstream, trainer Graham Motion always anticipated a return to grass racing for the son of Tapit.


"Obviously, in the spring of their 3-year-old year you want to see how they handle the dirt," Motion said earlier this week. "And it worked out, because he won the Tampa Derby. I had always had in mind that we might get him back on the grass because his numbers on the grass were very good and I always thought he handled the grass very good."


Ring Weekend kicked off the summer meet with a second-place finish to Tourist in the Sir Cat on opening day. He closed the meet in style in the Saranac on Labor Day.


Under Jose Ortiz, longshot entrant Smooth Daddy set an early pace of 23.34, 47.39 and 1:11.20, keeping about a length ahead of Bashart during the early going. Ring Weekend, with John Velazquez aboard, kept within striking distance with a stalking trip along the rail.


As the field turned for home, Ring Weekend overtook the leader and drew off to win in 1:46.48 for 1 1/8 miles, ahead of Smooth Daddy. Cabo Cat closed late to get up for third, a neck ahead of Bashart.


Storm, Wallyanna and Predicting completed the order of finish.


Sent to the gate as the 3-2 favorite, Ring Weekend paid $5.10 for a $2 win wager, giving Velazquez his third win on the day's card including the Grade 1 Hopeful with Competitive Edge.


"I rode some very nice horses today and they showed up at the right time and made me look good," Velazquez said. "There was not much speed other than the two horses that were on the lead here. I was a little concerned that I might be a little stuck inside and I was right behind the horse that I thought at least had a chance to take me to the quarter pole. I was pretty tight on the hedge all the way around and he handled that really well. I got to the five-sixteenths pole and got him to the clear and the rest was pretty easy."


West Point Thoroughbred president Terry Finley expects to keep Ring Weekend on the green in the foreseeable future.


"I think he's such a good mover on the turf, I think we've found a home, at least for now," Finley said. "If he gets beat a couple of times, we can always come back to dirt. He's a big, sound horse. I know he's a lot different now than he was in the beginning of the summer. He's a bigger, stronger horse and it's good to have a 3-year-old that can really run at this time of the year."





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