SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Leonard Green’s A Thread of Blue shot to the lead early and refused to give it up en route to wiring the field in Sunday’s inaugural running of the $1,000,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes.
Dismissed by the betting public as he broke from post 3 under Luis Saez at 13/1 odds, A Thread of Blue took control as he passed the grandstand for the first time, then headed into the far turn unchallenged. Striding comfortably on the front end, A Thread of Blue posted opening fractions of :23.62, :48.54, and 1:12.32.
Heading into the far turn, A Thread of Blue remained peerless on the front end while the field jockeyed for position behind him. Digital Age loomed the biggest threat off of the turn, but A Thread of Blue’s easy ride early meant that he had more than enough left for the end.
As he crossed the wire, Saez stood up in the saddle to celebrate A Thread of Blue winning by a confident length in a final time of 1:52.02 for the 1 3/16-mile event over the firm outer turf course.
“In a big race, you never know, but we were lucky that it was pretty easy up front,” Saez said. “When we came into the stretch, I knew I had plenty of horse. I saw them coming, but he responded pretty well. It was easy for him today.”
Although he chased the winner home in vain, Digital Age was 1 1/4 lengths clear of Cape of Good Hope in second. Social Paranoia had sat in third throughout but couldn’t hold off Cape of Good Hope late, falling short by a neck. The Belmont Derby (G1) winner Henley’s Joy was unable to take the second leg of the Turf Trinity series and had to settle for fifth by a nose over the 5/2 favorite Rockemperor. Behind them came Kadar, Mohawk, Flying Scotsman, Seismic Wave, and Eons to complete the order of finish.
A Thread of Blue’s win was third of the year, having won three straight at Gulfstream Park between December and March that included the Dania Beach Stakes and the Palm Beach Stakes (G3). The 3-year-old son of Hard Spun next finished second in the American Turf Stakes (G2) and fourth in the Penn Mile Stakes (G2) before taking a brief freshening. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, A Thread of Blue now sports a record of 10-5-2-1 with $879,290 earned.
“(An) uncontested lead is big, and he’s a very talented horse,” McLaughlin said. “He likes it firm, obviously, winning three in Florida. He doesn’t like to ship that well, but he ran great at Churchill. Penn just didn’t go well. We gave him a little more time going into this, but he’s been training unbelievable and it just worked out great.”
A Thread of Blue returned $28.40 to win, $12.20 to place, and $9.90 to show. Digital Age brought back $6 to place and $4.10 to show, while Cape of Good Hope paid $12.80 to show.