SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Barry K. Schwartz' Voodoo Song became the first four-time winner in a single Saratoga Race Course meet since 1952 with a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf on Saturday.
Voodoo Song quickly assumed the lead under jockey Jose Lezcano and, keen through the early going, drew off by as much as 5 ½ lengths on the backside to lead the field of eight. The chestnut English Channel colt relaxed through the final turn, maintaining a half-length advantage as the field turned for home. Voodoo Song rebuffed a brief challenge from Bricks and Mortar at the top of the stretch and held off a late-charging Yoshida to win by a neck under the wire.
Sent off at 6-1, Voodoo Song returned $14.40 for a $2 win wager to complete the route in a hand-timed 1:46.18 over the firm Mellon course.
"He broke to the lead and that was it," said Lezcano. "That was the only strategy going in; let him go and let him break lose. I know we were going fast, but that is how he likes it, running free. If you make him hang around he throws his head, so we let him go. He's happier that way and you saw the rest."
The win was the fourth of the 2017 Saratoga meet for the Linda Rice-trained New York-bred, an unprecedented accomplishment in modern racing history. The last horse to put together a four-race win streak in a single summer at the Spa was eventual Hall of Famer Native Dancer, when the legendary "Gray Ghost" swept four stakes races during his 2-year-old season in 1952, including the Saratoga Special and Hopeful.
Transferred from retired trainer Mike Hushion at the end of the Belmont spring/summer meet, Voodoo Song won his first start for Rice by a front-running 5 ¼ lengths in a $40,000 claiming race against open company at 1 1/16 miles on the grass on July 22.
He ran back four days later, this time against New York-breds in a 1 3/8-mile turf allowance, drawing off by as much as 16 lengths on the backstretch and held on to win by three-quarters of a length. In his third Spa appearance a month later, Voodoo Song led gate-to-wire to post a length victory in an optional claimer on August 23.
"It's great to be in the same company as Native Dancer," said Rice. "It's been a real thrill for us. I've had a couple win three here now, [including] City Zip and New York's Finest, but this was just really something.
"Barry was great he said [to do] whatever I wanted, so that's what we did," she added. "His running style certainly helps with this course. The reason I've run him back so many times is he likes this course, he likes the configuration. Obviously, it hasn't rained much, and he likes the firm going and that could change very quickly in the next 30 days or six weeks, so I thought let's take advantage of it we can rest him later."
As the 2-1 post-time favorite, Bricks and Mortar suffered the first loss of his career to finish third, crossing the wire a half-length behind Yoshida. Rocketry closed late to finish fourth, followed by Mr Havercamp, Makarios, Caviar Czar and Master Plan to complete the order of finish. Mo Maverick was scratched.
(Note: Fractions were unavailable and final time was hand-timed due to timer malfunction.)