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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Hat Creek Racing’s Averly Jane made every pole a winning one in Friday’s off-the-turf $120,000 Skidmore, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds contested over a fast main track at Saratoga Race Course.
Originally scheduled for 5 1/2-furlongs on the Mellon turf course, Averly Jane, who was listed as a Main Track Only entrant, bested the boys for the second time while maintaining a perfect record through 3 career starts.
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One of three Wesley Ward-trained entrants along with Golden Bell and Overbore, Averly Jane romped to an 8 3/4-length debut score on April 15 at Keeneland before topping her male counterparts in the 5-furlong Kentucky Juvenile contested on a sloppy main track on April 28 at Churchill Downs.
With returning pilot Tyler Gaffalione in the irons, Averly Jane broke straight and sharp, opening up a 3-length lead in the first few strides en route to setting a swift opening 1/4-mile in 21.96 seconds.
The Midshipman bay maintained her lead through the turn with Golden Bell, also a Main Track Only entrant, tracking her speed in front of the stalking Pure Panic and Baytown Warrior as the 1/2-mile ticked by in 45 flat.
Averly Jane cornered perfectly, opening up a 5-length lead at the stretch call, and stayed on strong to the wire for a 7 1/4-length score in a final time of 1:03.79.
“When you’re riding for Wesley Ward, you know they have speed and just hopefully they last, and today, she did,” Gaffalione said. “She broke on top and I was able to just put my hands down and let her relax and she did everything on her own. She’s a rocket. I had plenty left in the tank. We could have went a lot quicker even early on, but we only used what we needed.”
Gaffalione said Averly Jane showed marked improvement from her Kentucky Juvenile score.
“It’s a night-and-day difference. Today, she was much more forward,” Gaffalione said. “She grew up and matured a little bit and I’m looking forward to down the road.”
Pure Panic, a smart maiden winner at Ellis Park for the Spa’s leading trainer Mike Maker, completed the exacta by 3/4 of a length over the Ward-trained Overbore, who was full of run down the lane for Joel Rosario.
Luis Saez, leading rider at the Saratoga meet, said he enjoyed a perfect trip.
“My horse was travelling pretty nicely,” Saez said. “He had a good break and was right there. He ran his race. The horse on the lead was pretty good.”
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Although Ward said the team, led by Hat Creek Racing’s Gatewood Bell, had considered the 7-furlong $300,000 Spinaway (G1) on September 5 for Averly Jane, the conditioner said the filly is likely to target the Darley Alcibiades (G1) on October 8 at Keeneland.
“She’s a nice filly. We were kind of going back and forth with the Spinaway,” Ward said. “We’ll talk it over with Gatewood Bell. He picked her out and he does a great job picking horses out. We’ll get with him and make a plan from there. It’ll probably be the Alcibiades, which is in Gatewood’s hometown. That’s where she’s trained her whole life.
“We were thinking seriously about the Spinaway, but I was questioning my ability to train one off the layoff going seven-eighths,” he added, with a laugh. “She ran pretty big today.”
Rounding out the order of finish were Golden Bell, Catch the Smoke, Backnthewoods, Bonus Appreciation, Baytown Warrior, and Barone Cesco. Kaufymaker was scratched.
A $35,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, Averly Jane is out of the Richter Scale mare Sh Sh Shakin’.
Bred in Kentucky by the University of Kentucky, Averly Jane banked $66,000 in victory while maintaining her perfect record. Sent to post as the 8/5 mutuel favorite, Averly Jane returned $5.20 for a $2 win ticket.
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