SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – William Lawrence and Klaravich Stables’ Practical Joke reaffirmed his status as the nation’s best one-turn 3-year-old, riding a perfect rail trip to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $700,000 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Breaking well from the rail under Joel Rosario, Practical Joke settled back into seventh while Takaful led the way through splits of :22.36 and :45.05. Rosario’s patience was rewarded when the rail opened up, cutting the corner and exploding forward. Rosario moved to the outside of Takaful at the 1/16 pole and kicked clear to the wire, completing the 7-furlong main track event in 1:21.96.
“His best races are around one turn and he always tries hard,” Rosario said. “He’s a very good horse. He showed that today. I had a great trip. I was just watching for traffic and waiting for the right time to make my move moving forward. Around the turn, he just started picking up horses like the great horses he is. I was able to ride him with a lot of confidence the whole time.”
The Chad Brown-trained colt won his fifth consecutive 8-furlong-or-fewer race in as many tries after finishing a close third last out in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Haskell.
“To cut back all the way to 7/8 (of a mile) after a tough race in the Haskell, I’m so proud of this horse,” Brown said. “He’s so versatile. It was his third race in seven weeks. He’s our iron horse.”
Takfaul held on tightly for second, 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner. American Anthem was up late for third by a nose over Tale of Silence. Coal Front, No Dozing, Phi Beta Express, Ann Arbor Eddie, and Wild Shot completed the order of finish.
The win improved Practical Joke’s career record to 10-5-2-2. The $275,000 winner’s share increased his career earnings to $1,670,800.
“Looking at the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile,” Brown said when asked for Practical Joke’s next race. “It’s a tricky race because it’s around two turns. He’s undefeated on one turn, but the mile distance seems perfect for him, so if I had to guess right now, that’s where we’ll end up.”
Practical Joke returned $6 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.50 to show. Takaful brought back $6.50 to place and $4.10 to show, while American Anthem paid $2.70 to show.