SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Fresh off her maiden-breaking score here on August 12, Lee Pokoik’s Sippican Harbor surged in deep stretch to steal Saturday’s Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga.
The Spinaway is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Sippican Harbor receiving an automatic berth in the Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 2.
Breaking from post 6 under Joel Rosario at odds of 16/1, Sippican Harbor relaxed at the rear of the 11-horse field while Guacamole and Nonna Madeline battled up front through opening splits of :22.68 and :45.97. Beginning to pass tiring foes along the outside through the far turn, Rosario sent Sippican Harbor down for the stretch run while seven-wide. Finding the footing to her liking, the Gary Contessa trainee closed strongly to take command inside the 1/16 pole, then drew off late to steal the 7-furlong main track event by 2 furlongs in a final time of 1:23.72.
“Today’s effort was unbelievable because this field was loaded with good horses today,” said Contessa. “She ate dirt, I mean she’s covered with dirt, she made that big move on the outside, a very impressive race. That’s the kind of 2-year-old you want. One that is versatile, you can send her; she can be on the lead or you can take her back and come from last. She’s got a great mind. You see what her mind is like in the stall. She is just the coolest horse in the world. She makes my job easy. Today, she stamped herself. She’s legit, so were looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup. These are real horses, these are the best of the best.”
Restless Rider edged Cassies Dreamer by a neck for second, with Bella Ciao taking fourth over a fading Nonna Madeline. The two west coast shippers, Reflect and the 8/5 favorite Chasing Yesterday, both struggled throughout the race and took sixth and seventh, respectively. Virginia Eloise, Catherinethegreat, Baby Nina, and an empty Guacamole completed the order of finish. Love My Honey was scratched.
Sippican Harbor’s win was her second in three career starts, with her debut a lackluster fifth. The juvenile daughter of Orb, purchased for $260,000 as a yearling, has now earned $242,650.
“We knew coming into this race that she was going to have to pass the acid test today,” said Contessa, who saddled his second career Grade 1 winner and first since Do It With Style took the 1991 Ashland. “She beat up nobody in her last race, and this time, she had to beat up a lot of ‘somebodys,’ and she delivered. She’s a good filly. She’s as good as we thought she was.”
Sippican Harbor returned $34 to win, $12.40 to place, and $8.20 to show. Restless Rider brought back $5.20 to place and $4 to show, while Cassies Dreamer paid $14.20 to show.