Peacock Racing Stable’s Gunnevera started very slowly in Sunday’s Grade 2 Saratoga Special, but was well-ridden by Javier Castellano to run down the heavy favorite Recruiting Ready in the stretch, crossing the wire about 1 1/4 lengths in front to give the jockey his fourth win on the day. The juvenile son of Dialed In covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.00 over Saratoga’s fast main track for trainer Antonio Sano.
“My horse is a really good horse,” Castellano said. “We came from behind, in the clear and finished really well. I think he had a really good setup today and everything went the right way.”
Both Recruiting Ready and Get Lit N Get Wild broke very sharply, but it was the latter colt who took the lead in the early part of the race. While Gunnevera broke with the field, he was a bit slow to move into stride, spotting the field nearly four lengths at the quarter pole. Recruiting Ready was kept four-wide down the backstretch as Sonic Mule and Tip Tap Tapizar maintained their positions just outside Get Lit N Get Wild on the rail. Entering the turn, Recruiting Ready appeared to duck inward sharply, bumping Tip Tap Tapizar into Sonic Mule.
Nearing the top of the lane, Recruiting Ready had dispatched Get Lit N Get Wild to enter the stretch with a two-length lead. But Castellano was going to work on Gunnevera, and despite making the turn very wide he was rolling strongly down the lane. Even at the sixteenth pole, it looked as though Recruiting Ready would hold off the late charge, but the colt lifted his head and dropped the bridle, allowing Gunnevera and Castellano to run him down. Gunnevera crossed the wire about 1 1/4 lengths in front, with Recruiting Ready relegated to second. Tip Tap Tapizar finished third, with Sonic Mule fourth.
Both a steward’s inquiry and a jockey objection (from Ricardo Santana, aboard Tip Tap Tapizar) followed the conclusion of the race. Stewards elected to disqualify Recruiting Ready from second and move him to fourth place. Therefore, the final order of finish was Gunnevera, Tip Tap Tapizar, Sonic Mule, and Recruiting Ready.
“I liked the race but I told [Javier] Castellano, ‘he’s slow but the last three furlongs are strong,’” Sano said. “I liked this horse at a longer distance. We’ll see you September 5 here [for the Grade 1, $ 350,000 Hopeful].”
Bred in Kentucky by Brandywine Farm and Stephen Upchurch, Gunnevera was a bargain $ 16,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale. Second on debut, Gunnevera followed up that effort with a fourth place finish in the listed Birdonthewire Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The colt then recorded his first win in a maiden special weight event at Gulfstream. The victory in the Saratoga Special brings his career record to two wins from four starts, with earnings of over $ 150,000.
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