SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Dismissed by the betting public at 13/1 odds, Shadwell Stable’s Qurbaan made his American racing debut a winning one, eking out the score by pair of noses to conquer Monday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Haruch Handicap at Saratoga.
Hitting the inside of the far gate as he broke under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Qurbaan then bumped Inspector Lynley slightly before settling two-wide at the back. Meanwhile, the 3/5 favorite Voodoo Song set a strong lead through opening fractions of :24.13 and :47.89. Heading into the far turn, Voodoo Song’s lead diminished as he attempted to temper the pace. Still on top (though not by much) through 3/4 of a mile in 1:11.36, Voodoo Song began to weaken at the top of the stretch as the field swallowed him up. Projected emerged with the lead, but Qurbaan was hot on his heels along the outside. The two battled gamely down the stretch, with Forge soon splitting them at the midway point, but it was the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Qurbaan who got up by the slimmest of margins to win the 1 1/16-mile turf event in a final time of 1:40.00.
“I was worried right up until the wire, but thankfully, we got there,” McLaughlin said. “I’m very happy with the photo; we’ve had a couple of close ones this meet. After 24 and 47 (second fractions), I thought we had no chance, but he responded very well and ran great. We’re happy to have him in the barn.”
Forge squeezed his way up for second over Projected, while 2 lengths back, Inspector Lynley outran the bettors’ choice Voodoo Song, who failed to win at Saratoga for the first time in 6 starts. Synchrony was scratched, having won Saturday’s Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park.
Qurbaan’s win was his first since February 2, 2017, and improved his overall record to 14-6-1-2 with earnings of $313,108. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown had competed the past three seasons in his dam’s native France but had not raced since October 10, 2017, when he lost a Group event for the third straight time.
“We were trying to run him in an allowance race that didn’t go for a while,” McLaughlin said. “We didn’t have many options but to go into the stakes. He’s a stakes horse, obviously. He’s won five races all around the world.”
Qurbaan returned $28 to win, $10.20 to place, and $6.80 to show. Forge brought back $9.90 to place and $7 to show, while Projected paid $4 to show.