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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – “Horses don’t know their odds.”
The horse racing adage proved true Saturday when the 34/1 longshot Lexitonian proved ultra-tough along the rail, outkicking the 3/1 second choice Special Reserve in the shadow of the wire to upset the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga.
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Lexitonian shot from the rail under Jose Lezcano and contested the pace inside of Strike Power and Special Reserve, with the trio running three-abreast through opening fractions of :22.04 and :44.45.
Joel Rosario made his move aboard Special Reserve near the top of the stretch and held a narrow advantage halfway home, but a game Lexitonian refused to yield and fought to re-engage the temporary leader.
Advancing ahead in the final jumps, the Jack Sisterson trainee crossed a 1/2-length the better while stopping the clock in 1:09.38 for the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint.
“This horse is a very good horse; he tries hard all the time,” Lezcano said. “He’s the type of horse that needs to be involved and sometimes he doesn’t break all that well and has to stay in the back. He broke well today. (Special Reserve) tried to get away from me, but when I dropped my hands, he took off again and won the race.”
Whitmore was 1 1/4 lengths further back, 2 1/4 lengths clear of Montauk Traffic in fourth.
Firenze Fire, Strike Power, Three Technique, the 7/5 favorite Mischevious Alex, and Miles Ahead completed the order of finish.
Lexitonian’s win was his second at the graded stakes level following the 2019 Chick Lang Stakes (G3) at Pimlico and improved his overall record to 19-5-2-2 with $687,682 earned. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown is a Calumet Farm homebred.
“I said to Jose, ‘He’s a horse who fights,’” Sisterson said. “Please get him out of the gate and engage him early. I believe if you engage him early, he will feel the pressure and respond to that. At the 1/2-mile pole, if he comes off the bridle, perfect. That’s him and he will respond. It’s even better if a horse heads him because he’ll fight on again, which happened. He stuck his head out in front today.”
Lexitonian returned $70 to win, $21.20 to place, and $10.40 to show. Special Reserve brought back $5.20 to place and $3.70 to show. Whitmore paid $4 to show.
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