Exaggerator's West Saratoga Upsets The Iroquois

West Saratoga | Coady


With five previous starts under his belt, Harry Veruchi's West Saratoga (Exaggerator) was the most experienced of the eight 2-year-old males signed on for Saturday's GIII Iroquois S. at Churchill Downs. But whereas he made all of the running in breaking his maiden when tried over a mile for the first time at Ellis Park Aug. 5, the gray colt was taken off a furious early pace this time and proved the chief beneficiary, earning 10 points on the Road to the 2024 Kentucky Derby in the process.

An $11,000 bargain purchase out of last year's Keeneland September sale–as hip 4146 he was among the last horses through broke on terms, but was content to settle in midpack this time around, as a headstrong Patriot Spirit (Constitution) set unsustainable fractions of :22.37 and :44.63 up front. Busily ridden into the final three-eighths of a mile, but gaining beneath Rafael Bejarano, West Saratoga began to bear down on the spent pacesetter approaching the furlong marker and stayed on for the victory. Favored Risk It (Gun Runner) appeared to have every chance if the pacesetter was to back up, but he flattened out a bit late and just held off a late rally from Liberal Arts (Arrogate) for second.

“We've been just trying to let him progress naturally,” said trainer Larry Demeritte, winning the second graded stakes of his career and first since 2010. “He went a mile last time and we were confident today going the same distance.”

The conditioner said West Saratoga is a candidate for the $600,000 GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland Oct. 7.

West Saratoga has yet to turn in a bad race, as he outran debut odds of 42-1 to be fourth at Keeneland Apr. 7 before finishing runner-up in a pair of restricted local maidens May 11 and June 4. A distant second to Timberlake (Into Mischief)–who would go on to complete the exacta in the GI Hopeful S.–in a seven-furlong Ellis maiden July 21, he was never seriously threatened when besting subsequent maiden romper Generous Tipper (Street Sense) last time out to earn a crack at a race like this.

Pedigree Notes:

West Saratoga is the 11th stakes winner and third graded winner for his Classic-winning sire, and Mo Wicked–who cost Two Hearts Farm just $5,200 at Keeneland November in 2018–is the 16th stakes winner and seventh graded winner out of a daughter of Uncle Mo. From the family of 2010 GI Darley Alcibiades S. heroine Wickedly Perfect (Congrats), the dam of Japanese Group 2 winner Hartley (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), West Saratoga is one of two winners from as many to the races for Mo Wicked. Her 3-year-old daughter Mo Traffic (Cross Traffic) won her maiden at Delaware Park July 19. Mo Wicked was most recently bred back to Cross Traffic.


Saturday, Churchill Downs
IROQUOIS S.-GIII, $300,000, Churchill Downs, 9-16, 2yo, 1m, 1:37.28, ft.
1–WEST SARATOGA, 122, c, 2, by Exaggerator
1st Dam: Mo Wicked, by Uncle Mo
2nd Dam: Wicked Ride, by Candy Ride (Arg)
3rd Dam: Wickedly Wise, by Tactical Cat

1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($11,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Harry L. Veruchi; B-Two Hearts Farm II LLC (KY); T-Larry W. Demeritte; J-Rafael Bejarano. $180,315. Lifetime Record: 6-2-3-0, $276,815. Werk Nick Rating: C+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Risk It, 122, c, 2, Gun Runner–Wedding Jitters, by Broken Vow. 1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($500,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm; B-Gun Runner Syndicate & De Sousa Stables & Cranford Bloodstock LTD (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $58,650.
3–Liberal Arts, 122, c, 2, Arrogate–Ismene, by Tribal Rule. 1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O-Ferraro, Evan and Ferraro, Stephen; B-Stephen Ferraro & Evan Ferraro (KY); T-Robert Medina. $29,325. Margins: 1 3/4, NK, NK. Odds: 12.48, 1.35, 9.92.Also Ran: Seize the Grey, Edified, Patriot Spirit, Union Roll, Market Street. Scratched: Gettysburg Address. Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuelTV.

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