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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Alex G. Campbell, Jr., homebred Bye Bye Melvin nailed the 2/1 favorite Don Juan Kitten at the wire to win Saturday’s $100,000 Saranac Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.
Bye Bye Melvin was the longest shot on the tote at 19/1 as he broke alertly from post 2 under John Velazquez. He briefly led as the field passed under the wire for the first time, but Don Juan Kitten was intent on holding command heading into the clubhouse turn.
With Embolden applying pressure to his outside and Bye Bye Melvin tucked just behind in third, Don Juan Kitten posted slow opening fractions before straightening for home seemingly with plenty left in the tank.
Bye Bye Melvin, who appeared to drop anchor in the far turn, responded sharply when asked at the top of the stretch and began rallying quickly as Velazquez tipped him out to commence a three-wide bid to the front.
Collaring the bettors’ choice inside the 1/16 pole, Bye Bye Melvin inched ahead in the shadow of the wire and got his head down first. The Graham Motion trainee’s posted final time was 1:39.92 for the soft outer turf route.
“It’s very soft and heavy out there,” Velazquez said. “Even though they rolled it, it feels like you’re going very deep in the ground. We were running right on top of the rain, so it’s deep and slick at the same time, but he came running anyway.”
Bodecream got past Embolden in the late stages to take third by 3/4 of a length, while Irish Mias (the winner’s stablemate) was the same distance further back in fifth.
Three Technique edged L’Imperator by a head for sixth. Behind them came Vanzzy to complete the order of finish.
Big Dreaming and Turn of Events were scratched. Ima Pharoah was a Main Track Only entry.
Bye Bye Melvin’s win was his first at the stakes level and improved his overall record to 9-3-1-1 with $107,965 earned. The 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt was wearing blinkers for the first time, historically a 22% winning move for Motion.
“My team at home thought (adding blinkers) might help him focus a little bit, so I give credit to my assistant Cat McGee and Skylar McKenna, who gallops him every day,” Motion said. “He’s not easy in the morning and I give them a lot of credit for how he ran today.”
Bye Bye Melvin returned $41 to win, $11.20 to place, and $8.40 to show. Don Juan Kitten brought back $3.60 to place and $2.90 to show, while Bodecream paid $4.70 to show.
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