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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – International invader State of Rest disrupted the Saratoga toteboard in a major way Saturday, leading home at 21/1 an upset across the board upset of the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1).
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Making his American racing debut for trainer Joseph O’Brien, State of Rest broke from post 9 under John Velazquez and settled into a mid-pack position for the early going.
The even-money favorite Bolshoi Ballet raced up front inside Cellist heading into the clubhouse turn before the latter took sole command and posted opening fractions of :21.96, :47.54, and 1:11.88.
Bolshoi Ballet, the Belmont Derby (G1) winner in his first start stateside, came under a drive from jockey Ryan Moore heading into the far turn and challenged Cellis for the lead while cornering, but the rest of the field was hot on their heels.
A wide-open affair at the top of the stretch saw a tipped-out State of Rest charge ahead and take the lead at the 1/8 pole. The Irish import crossed 1 length clear while completing the 1 3/16-mile firm turf route in 1:53.35.
“The horse is actually a very, very nice horse and he was not really paying attention out in the post parade, so I was a little bit worried that his mind wasn’t on the business, and that’s what he did,” said Velazquez, who added to his all-time graded stakes win record for a jockey. “He didn’t break very well (but) I didn’t panic. I just saved all the ground, looking for somewhere to go down the stretch, and when I got him out, he responded really good.”
Soldier Rising rallied from next-to-last to take second at 14/1 by 2 1/2 lengths over the stalking Du Jour, himself a 10/1 longshot and producing a top-three finish of all double-digit odds.
“He missed the break a little, but it was his first time running in this country, so I didn’t panic,” said Soldier Rising’s jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. “I just let him settle and be where he was happy. I tried to have a good trip after that and that’s what I got, a really good trip. When I asked him, he was there for me.”
Bolshoi Ballet fought on in the stretch but couldn’t sustain his early speed and weakened late to take fourth by a neck and a head over fellow international runner Secret Protector and Cellist, respectively.
Palazzi, Yes This Time, overseas-based Cadillac (fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf [G1]), King Fury, and Flashiest completed the order of finish.
State of Rest’s win was his first at the stakes level and improved the Irish-bred Starspangledbanner colt’s record to 8-2-1-2 with $592,668 earned for owner Teme Valley. It was O’Brien’s second stateside victory following Baron Samedi in the Belmont Gold Cup (G2).
“I thought Johnny gave him a fantastic ride,” O’Brien said. “The pace was pretty strong and he got him comfortable and came home strong. We knew he would like the firm turf and getting more distance today.”
State of Rest returned $44.20 to win, $18.20 to place, and $10 to show. Soldier Rising brought back $12.40 to place and $9.50 to show. Du Jour paid $7 to show.
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