Battling success for Antoinette in Saratoga Oaks
Three-year-old filly Antoinette posted the biggest victory of her career to date when gamely making most of the running in the extended nine-furlong Saratoga Oaks at Saratoga, USA, on Sunday, 16 August.
The Bill Mott-trained daughter of Hard Spun, returning to turf after finishing third on dirt in the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks at the same course in July, disputed the early lead with Enola Gay before being sent on into a clear advantage by John Velazquez.
Antoinette kicked turning in and repelled Enola Gay at the top of the straight before Stunning Sky laid down a strong challenge inside the final furlong. The Godolphin homebred rallied bravely to reassert near the line for a half-length verdict.
Bill Mott said: “We thought that Antoinette might be close to the lead today. It looked like her and Enola Gay had some speed and one of us would be on the lead. Johnny [Velazquez] did a good job. The pace was reasonable and Antoinette was very game. She has been a very good, consistent filly on either surface all along and she really put in a good effort today.
“The beauty of a filly like Antoinette is, if you get a big rainstorm and they come off the turf, you can always run in the race and you know that she is going to give you a good effort one way or another. After seeing this, which is her biggest win so far, I would guess that her next start would be on the grass.”
John Velazquez added: “I had been taking Antoinette back every time I have ridden her, but she pulls behind horses and never passes them when I let her go. Today, there wasn’t much speed so I felt that I might as well let her go to the lead and she put up a good fight the whole way round.
“I rode her at Oaklawn [in the Gardenia Stakes] and she was cruising coming to the quarter-pole but hung and didn’t pass the horses on the lead. I told Bill’s son [Riley Mott] that she has a movement like a grass horse – she runs like she is going to gallop and doesn’t go anywhere. We rode her on the grass, but she did the same! So we went back to the dirt last time out and she ran a good race against some nice company. There wasn’t a lot of speed today, so it was possible to go to the lead and she was really brave.”