By Steve Sherack
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Imperial Hint (Imperialism) put on a show for the Saratoga faithful to capture back-to-back renewals of Saturday's GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. in track-record time.
The 'little rocket,' off at odds of 5-1, was placed in a perfect spot in a tracking third by Javier Castellano as the rail-drawn Mitole (Eskendereya)–off as the imposing 1-2 favorite riding a seven-race winning streak headed by a sensational score in the GI Runhappy Metropolitan H.-slugged it out with the speedy Strike Power (Speightstown) through an opening quarter in :21.77. The Raymond Mamone colorbearer slingshotted past the dueling leaders with a three-wide blitz approaching the quarter pole and kept on motoring down the lane to defeat longshot Diamond Oops (Lookin At Lucky) by a visually impressive four lengths while stopping the clock for six furlongs in a scorching 1:07.92. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Mitole in third.
“I got to give credit to owner Raymond Mamone,” winning trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr. said. “He had a feeling that he was going to do well in this race, even though we thought he was a little short because we lost a week of training with the weather back in New Jersey, but he was right. This horse keeps surprising me and surprising everybody.”
Castellano added, “He's a little horse with a big heart. I knew they were going pretty quick early in the first part of the race. I had a perfect position in the race tracking them. Turning for home, the way he did it was very impressive. He wanted to go. He was feeling good and gave me everything he had today.”
Saratoga's previous six-furlong track record of 1:08.04 was held by both Spanish Riddle (8-18-72) and Speightstown (8-14-04). The latter earned the mark in the 2004 Vanderbilt, then contested as a Grade II.
Imperial Hint, runner-up in the 2017 GI Breeders' Cup Sprint at Del Mar, followed last year's Vanderbilt heroics with a sharp score in the GI Vosburgh S. at Belmont Park. The dark bay completed the trifecta in his last three trips to the post-the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs Nov. 3, the Pelican S. at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 16 and the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, beaten only two lengths, most recently Mar. 30, respectively.
Imperial Hint was firing bullets at trainer Carvajal Jr.'s Monmouth base heading into this, including a five-furlong move in 1:00 2/5 (1/14) July 17.
“Mitole is a very nice horse,” Carvajal said. “He won all of those races in a row. It's an amazing feeling. I couldn't believe what was going on around the turn, but he's a really good horse. He has a lot of heart. He doesn't have a big body, but he has a lot of heart.
He continued, “When I looked at the times, my hairs stood up. Last year, he gave me my first Grade I, and this year he breaks the track record. It's an amazing feeling, especially with [my] family here. He has a lot of heart, every time he works he has bullet works.”
Imperial Hint is the first back-to-back winner of the Vanderbilt since Cognizant pulled off the feat in 1985-86. Bred in Florida by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, Imperial Hint is the only graded stakes winner for Imperialism.
ALFRED G. VANDERBILT H.-GI, $350,000, Saratoga, 7-27, 3yo/up, 6f, 1:07.92 (NCR), ft.
1–IMPERIAL HINT, 123, h, 6, by Imperialism
1st Dam: Royal Hint, by Lahint
2nd Dam: Ray's Trial, by Skip Trial
3rd Dam: Ray's Gift, by Text
O-Raymond Mamone; B-Shade Tree Thoroughbreds Inc (FL);
T-Luis Carvajal, Jr.; J-Javier Castellano. $192,500. Lifetime
Record: MGISW, 22-13-2-3, $2,034,155. Werk Nick Rating: A+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Diamond Oops, 116, g, 4, Lookin At Lucky–Patriotic Viva, by
Whywhywhy. ($42,000 RNA Wlg '15 KEENOV). O-Ivy Hui,
Amy E. Dunne, Deron Pearson & Patrick L. Biacone; B-Kin Hui
Racing Stables LLC (KY); T-Patrick L. Biancone. $70,000.
3–Mitole, 125, c, 4, Eskendereya–Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie.
($20,000 Ylg '16 KEESEP; $140,000 2yo '17 OBSAPR). O-William
& Corinne Heiligbrodt; B-Edward A. Cox (KY);
T-Steven M. Asmussen. $42,000.
Margins: 4, 3HF, 2HF. Odds: 5.80, 29.75, 0.50.
Also Ran: Firenze Fire, Strike Power, Do Share. Scratched: Mr. Crow.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.