SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Trainer Doug O’Neill shipped east from California with a pair of well-intended juvenile fillies and found the winner’s circle when Comical just held on to defeat Kiss the Girl and stablemate Shippy in Thursday’s $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.
Breaking from post 5 under Javier Castellano as the 3/1 second choice, Comical raced in the clear within a length of early leader Integral through fractions of :22.54 and :46.24. Sidling up alongside the pacesetter near the top of the stretch, Comical soon dispatched of Integral and had to deal with Shippy, advancing along the rail.
Though she cleared away from Shippy in the final 1/16, a rallying effort down the middle of the lane from Kiss the Girl posed a new threat. Partially thanks to Kiss the Girl’s inability to change leads until late, Comical was able to withstand the pressure enough to cross with a neck advantage in a final time of 1:11.66 for the 6-furlong sprint over the muddy (sealed) main track.
“She moved fast out of the gate and attended the pace and went forward,” Castellano said. “Turning for home, I was able to save a little ground, and I’m very lucky she’s a good enough filly to win the race because the other horse was coming at her.”
Kiss the Girl finished a 1/2-length better than Shippy, the even-money favorite making her first start for new trainer O’Neill. It was 7 1/4 lengths back to Buxom Beast in fourth, while Integral faded steadily in the stretch to finish a neck behind her in fifth. Lula’s Roadrunner, His Glory, and Lady Fatima completed the strung-out order of finish.
Aurelia Garland was listed as a trainer scratch.
Comical’s win was her second in as many starts, having soundly defeated five foes by 6 lengths on debut at Santa Anita Park in May. The 2-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, sold to ERJ Racing’s Erik Johnson for $100,000 as a yearling, has now bankrolled $121,500 for co-owners ERJ Racing, Gary Barber, Dave Kenney, and Madaket Stables.
“We’re excited to see what her future holds,” Johnson said. “Her dam (Kayce Ace) is a full sister to Colonel John (winner of the 2008 Travers Stakes [G1]), so hopefully she can stretch out.”
Comical returned $8.20 to win, $4.50 to place, and $2.80 to show. Kiss the Girl brought back $5.10 to place and $2.90 to show, while Shippy paid $2.40 to show.