SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – For the second straight Saturday an important stakes race was won by the rank outsider in the field, and this time it was Paola Queen who pulled off an upset of monumental proportions in the Grade 1, $500,000 Test.
With just a maiden victory to her credit going into the $500,000 Test, Paola Queen was dismissed at odds of 55-1 against six other 3-year-old fillies in her first start since fading to fifth in the Grade 1 Acorn eight weeks ago. This time, she was out-sprinted for the lead from the inside post and raced alongside Lewis Bay while tracking a torrid battle up front between 6-5 favorite Kareena and 5-2 second choice Off the Tracks, who tore through early fractions of 21.74 and 43.50 seconds with the aid of a tailwind.
Paola Queen dropped back approaching the quarter pole under pressure, seemingly beaten, as Off the Tracks put Kareena away and was challenged by Lewis Bay in the stretch after six furlongs in a blistering 1:08.59 seconds. At that point, Lightstream arrived on the scene as well.
Refusing to buckle, Paola Queen swung wide and rallied under never-say-die urging from Luis Saez to run past the leaders in the final strides, edging away by three-quarters of a length.
Lightstream outlasted Off the Tracks by a neck for second. It was another four lengths back to Lewis Bay in fourth, and the order of finish was completed by One True Kiss, Kareena and Kinsley Kisses.
“I feel very happy,” said Saez. “She ran very good. I worked her a couple of times and she was doing awesome, and today she proved that she is a good filly. As the race was unfolding I checked behind and no one was coming. I saw Joel (Rosario on Lightstream) coming inside and I started to ride her harder and she responded to me.”
Paola Queen, trained by Gustavo Delgado, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.32 seconds, and paid $112.00 to win as the longest shot in the field. It was Delgado’s first Grade 1 win in the United States.
“I’m a grown man, and I cry,” said an emotional Delgado. “Thank you very much. I love all of Venezuela. This is a very important race for me. I’m very happy. The (fast) pace was very important for us. I’m happy, everybody is happy.”