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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize found her way back to the winner’s circle with a last-to-first effort to take Sunday’s $100,000 Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga.
Breaking from the far outside post 7 as the 3/5 favorite under Jose Ortiz, Blue Prize took back initially while Alberobello set the pace up front. The field played follow the leader through opening fractions of :22.96, :47.28, and 1:11.19.
Heading into the far turn, Ortiz gave Blue Prize the cue, and she began advancing wide around her foes. Gobbling up ground around the outside, Blue Prize emerged onto the front stretch in third within striking distance of new leader Vexatious, while Alberobello gave way on the inside.
Running down the middle of the lane, Blue Prize had to fight hard to reel in a stubborn Vexatious, who refused to yield to the multiple graded stakes winner. In the shadow of the wire, Blue Prize was able to stick her neck in front before completing the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:48.58.
“It was perfect,” Ortiz said. “They went very fast early. She is usually not that far back, but I put my horse where she was comfortable. Little by little along the backside, (Vexatious) worked a great trip. In the stretch, I thought I was just going to go by her, but she was game. I’m proud of my horse today. She gave a good effort.”
After running too good to lose in the stretch, Vexatious was 14 1/4 lengths much the best of the rest. Alberobello faded steadily in the stretch but finished third, 1 3/4 lengths clear of Skeptic. Completing the order of finish came Pacific Wind, Breaking Bread, and Tweeting.
Blue Prize’s win was her first since taking the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland last October. The 6-year-old daughter Pure Prize now carries a record of 21-8-8-3 with $1,292,253 earned.
“She got bumped a little bit on the first turn and he had to go four- or five-wide instead of take her back,” said winning trainer Ignacio Correas, IV. “Those were his options. For me, it cost her a little more than I expected. She had to put in a big effort for this race. The trip wasn’t the way I expected, but she had the class. I’m happy she’s back in the winner’s circle. We’ll keep working and see what we can do to get her to the next level.”
Blue Prize returned $3.20 to win and $2.20 to place, while Vexatious paid $3.80 to place. There was no show betting.
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