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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Trainer Wesley Ward saddled Chi Town Lady and Poppy Flower to a one-two finish in Wednesday’s seventh renewal of the $120,000 Bolton Landing, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for juvenile fillies, at Saratoga Race Course.
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Castleton Lyons Farm’s Chi Town Lady, a Verrazano chestnut, entered from an impressive 3-length score in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on the Keeneland main track in April.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez retained the mount for Chi Town Lady’s stakes debut and tracked from third position as stablemate Poppy Flower, under Jose Ortiz, blitzed through an opening 1/4-mile in 22.43 seconds and the 1/2-mile in 46.54 under pressure from 2/1 mutuel favorite Fulminate on the yielding turf.
Poppy Flower led to the top of the lane with Fulminate fanning six-wide out of the turn as Velazquez angled Chi Town Lady outside the pacesetter with a number of rivals, including Derrynane, Stand Up Coming, and Kneesnhips, lining up their bids.
Chi Town Lady, once straightened for home, reeled in her stablemate under right-handed encouragement and pounced to a 1 3/4-length score in a final time of 1:05.87.
“They both ran great races. I think (Chi Town Lady) is better on the grass, it’s where she was always meant to be,” said Ward, who secured his fourth Bolton Landing win. “Unfortunately, she had some minor shin issues that kept her from Ascot, which was originally the plan. It afforded me the time to let her come around and she did what she did today. She was great.”
Velazquez, who picked up a third Bolton Landing score, said a slow start hampered his early positioning.
“We broke horrible out of the gate, so that was the first thing, and the soft turf, she was having a hard time getting a hold of it for the first 1/4 of a mile,” Velazquez said. “I thought she was going to be closer than that and she came out of there slow. But I worked her here on the grass and she worked nicely. By the time I got to the 3/8 pole, she got comfortable and it felt like she was going well and I was confident she would get there.”
Last year, Ward sent out Amanzi Yimpilo to a third-place finish in the Bolton Landing ahead of a score in the Speakeasy at Santa Anita. Ward said he will follow a similar plan with one of Chi Town Lady or Poppy Flower in this year’s Speakeasy, which is slated for October 1 and offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) on November 5 at Del Mar.
“I was really proud of both horses,” Ward said. “I always like to look at the “Win And You’re In” races. One of them will go to California and get one of those. I sent Amanzi Yimpilo out there last year and won, so I’d like to do it again this year.”
Arnmore Thoroughbreds’ Poppy Flower, a chestnut daughter of Lea, graduated at third asking in a 6-furlong maiden special weight on the Belmont turf in June.
“I thought there was going to be more speed from the outside, but I still wanted to take my position into the first turn,” Ortiz said. “After a couple of jumps, I saw nobody from the outside coming, so I just let her be and she was very comfortable. She took the lead by herself. I think we went about 46.
“She handled the soft turf. She’s very honest,” Ortiz added. “She runs well on the dirt and the grass. She runs through everything. She’s got a big heart. I’m very proud of her.”
Kneesnhips completed the trifecta, 3 lengths in arrears of Poppy Flower, with Stand Up Comic, Derrynane, Charlee O, Flip My Id, Cartel Queen, and Fulminate rounding out the order of finish. Landslid and Main Track Only entrants Averly Jane and Golden Bell were scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Castleton Lyons, Kilboy Estate and Gavin Tierney, Chi Town Lady banked $66,000 in victory while maintaining a perfect record through 2 starts. She paid $12.80 for a $2 win ticket.
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