Hard Spun’s Antoinette Upsets Saratoga Oaks

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Antoinette | Sarah Andrew

Godolphin homebred Antoinette (Hard Spun) made all the running in Sunday’s $500,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational S. to more than double her bankroll with a half-length victory over Stunning Sky (Declaration of War). A second-out winner on the Belmont grass last October, the Bill Mott pupil took Aqueduct’s rained-off Tepin S. in December. That effort likely had her connections thinking GI Kentucky Oaks, and she resurfaced to be third in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks Mar. 21 behind Saturday’s GI Alabama S. runner-up Bonny South (Munnings). Third again when favored in Oaklawn’s May 1 Gardenia S., she returned to turf to be third in the GIII Wonder Again S. June 20 before rounding out the trifecta for a fourth consecutive time in the GI Coaching Club American Oaks here back on the dirt July 18 behind stablemate Paris Lights (Curlin).

Off at 5-1 in a race that lacked a particular standout, Antoinette was ridden along by John Velazquez to seize command into the first turn as the rest of the found themselves in a bit of a traffic jam behind her. She faced little resistance as she loped along through splits of :48.87 and 1:12.78, and was joined by favorite Enola Gay (Uncle Mo) heading for home. She stiff-armed that foe around the bend and hugged the hedge into the lane, and by midstretch was met with a new challenge from Stunning Sky. That narrow GII Lake Placid S. runner-up seemed likely to go by, but she never did as Antoinette found the line in time.

Sunday, Saratoga
SARATOGA OAKS INVITATIONAL S., $500,000, Saratoga, 8-16, 3yo, f, 1 3/16mT, 1:53.30, fm.
1–ANTOINETTE, 121, f, 3, by Hard Spun
                1st Dam: Shuruq (Hwt. Older Mare at 4-UAE-at 7-9 1/2f
                MGSW-UAE, GSW-Tur, GSP-Eng, $658,709),
                by Elusive Quality
                2nd Dam: Miss Lucifer (Fr), by Noverre
                3rd Dam: Devil’s Imp (Ire), by Cadeaux Genereux (GB)
O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-William I. Mott; J-John R. Velazquez.
$275,000. Lifetime Record: GISP, 8-3-0-4, $483,750.
2–Stunning Sky, 121, f, 3, Declaration of War–Sky Walk, by
Unbridled’s Song. ($85,000 RNA Wlg ’17 KEENOV; $100,000 Ylg
’18 KEESEP). O-Paradise Farms Corp. & Parkland
Thoroughbreds; B-Stephen J McDonald (KY); T-Michael J.
Maker. $100,000.
3–Key Biscayne, 121, f, 3, Brethren–Boa Twelve, by Lemon
Drop Kid. O/B-Arindel (FL); T-Juan Alvarado. $60,000.
Margins: HF, 2HF, HF. Odds: 5.00, 5.90, 28.00.
Also Ran: Speaktomeofsummer, Enola Gay, Ricetta (GB), Queens Embrace. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

“There wasn’t much speed in the race,” Hall of Famer Velazquez said. “I’d been taking this filly back every time she runs. She runs behind the horses on dirt or grass and I think she’s going to gallop and when you let her go, she doesn’t pass the horses. Today, we sent her to the lead and got her to relax and she put up a good fight. I didn’t have to take a hold of her today. She opened up on the horses, but she fought with the horses. I wasn’t worried about the distance at all, I was worried about her putting her mind on running.”

Fellow Hall of Famer, trainer Bill Mott, saw things the same way: “I think we both looked at the same racing form and it looked like we would be laying first or second. He decided he was going to let her lay up close. Last time, he had been tucked in behind horses and tipped her out and she didn’t really respond for him. With the lack of speed in this race, we thought just let her do what she’s comfortable doing.”

Acknowledging Antoinette’s versatility, Mott said his charge would likely stay on the grass next time and that a try in the GI Kentucky Oaks was unlikely.

Mott also saddled Juddmonte homebred Ricetta (GB) (Camelot {GB}), who was a disappointing sixth as the second choice in her first start since checking in third in York’s G3 Tattersalls Musidora S. July 9.

“She was just flat turning for home,” Mott said. “Javier [Castellano] said she was traveling well down the backside and he had a lot of horse, but she turned for home and just flattened out. She’s raced three times in a short period of time and she’s traveled. Sometimes, first time off the plane, they run really big but it wasn’t for her today. I’m sure she’s a nice filly and I’m sure she’s better than that.”

Pedigree Notes:

Darley resident Hard Spun is also responsible for A Thread of Blue, who won the inaugural Saratoga Derby Invitational–the equivalent race to this for males–last year. The winner’s dam was also surface versatile, having won a trio of group races on the Meydan synthetic as well as a Group 3 on turf in Turkey.

A half to last week’s G1 LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest winner Space Blues (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), Shuruq produced a filly by Medaglia d’Oro in 2019 and a colt by Uncle Mo in 2020 before being bred back to War Front.

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