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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Godolphin’s homebred Lucullan snuck along the inside in deep stretch and held off a flying foe’s late challenge to win Saturday’s $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes at Saratoga.
Breaking from post 2 under Luis Saez as the 9/5 favorite, Lucullan settled into third heading into the clubhouse turn while Voodoo Song scampered off to a wide early lead. After leading the field through fractions of :23.38, :46.97, and 1:10.65, Voodoo Song began to grow leg-weary.
Patiently handled throughout, Lucullan slowly advanced through the far turn and was positioned to take first run at the leader. Turning for home with a slim advantage, Lucullan held the lead in mid-stretch but had to dig deep late to ward off a hard-charging Sacred Life.
Finding just enough to keep himself in front while running along the inside, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was able to get his nose down first at the wire. Lucullan won the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm inner turf course in a final time of 1:39.63.
“It was beautiful,” Saez said. “That was the plan. I knew that (Voodoo Song) and (Noble Indy) had the most speed, so everything went according to plan. It was perfect. At the 3/8 (pole), he was pulling me, but I still waited because I knew the horses in front were stopping. I had to save him until the end. When I let him go, he took off.”
Sacred Life finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Ticonderoga, who languished far off the pace at the rear early but came running with interest late. Noble Indy initially challenged Voodoo Song for the lead in the clubhouse turn but thought better of it, then had nothing left when the real running began before finishing fourth. Say the Word, Projected, and a spent Voodoo Song completed the order of finish.
Control Group was a main track only entry, while Gidu was scratched in favor of competing in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1), a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the TVG Mile that will highlight Saratoga’s August 10 card.
Lucullan’s win was his second in as many 2019 starts following an optional claiming triumph at Belmont Park on July 3. The 5-year-old son of Darley stallion Hard Spun improved his record to 11-5-2-2 with $363,300 earned.
“(Saez) rode him excellent,” said McLaughlin. “He had a ton of horse turning for home and he didn’t want to get there too soon. It was a very game effort and an excellent ride, and we hope to move on to bigger and better things. There are a few races out there, (like) the Bernard Baruch (G2). It’s hard to say. A mile to a mile and 1/8, we’ll look around and try and duck (division leader) Bricks and Mortar.”
Lucullan returned $5.90 to win, $3.50 to place, and $2.60 to show. Sacred Life brought back $4.40 to place and $2.90 to show, while Ticonderoga paid $3.10 to show.
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