SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Copper Bullet was sensational in stealing the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on Sunday.
After tracking on the outside of leaders Mo Diddley and Barry Lee down the back and into the far turn through splits of :21.73 and :44.72, Copper Bullet diposed of his foes when he hit the front stretch. Drawing off under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., the Steve Asmussen-trained 2-year-old colt completed the 6 1/2-furlong main track race in 1:16.45.
“He ran a good race today, he really did,” said Asmussen, who won his fourth Saratoga Special and first since Kantharos in 2010. “It was an excellent draw for him. He broke very sharply. I was a little concerned with how fast they were going, but I think the racing experience that he’s had showed up. He settled off of those horses that were going very fast and he went through the wire with good energy and in a nice final time. He’s looked like the real deal and it’s good to see him win a race at this level.”
Copper Bullet was stretching out since running second in his last race, the Grade 3 Bashford Manor, when a very green effort through the far turn cost him a chance at challenging for the win. Asmussen said that he was concerned with the rising juvenile’s behavior leading up to the race, but once he hit the track, Copper Bullet was all business.
“He was being awfully sharp; Saratoga will bring that out,” Asmussen said. “You walk over to the holding barn, you walk through all those people, with a 2-year-old who’s very happy about who he is to begin with, and then you put them through the parade, they’ll show a little bit of emotion. He was a little playful in the paddock and stuff, but once he got on the track, he was all business.”
Hollywood Star, making his stakes debut, trailed behind Copper Bullet for the entire race and was able to move up well on the stretch for second. Tempestad used a late kick to get up for third, a neck in front of Bal Harbour and two necks ahead of Crea’s Bklyn Law. Diamond Oops, Mo Diddley, Barry Lee, and Vino completed the order of finish.
Copper Bullet returned $9.10 to win, $4.50 to place, and $3.60 to show. Hollywood Star brought back $6.50 to place and $4.60 to show, while Tempestad paid $10.80 to show.