SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Three Chimneys Farm and Phoenix Thoroughbred’s Volatile stepped up to the graded stakes level stylishly, proving victorious in Saturday’s $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga.
Sent away from post 4 as the 2/5 heavy favorite under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Volatile went straight to the lead and set comfortable opening fractions of :23.46 and :46.67.
Still in command at the top of the stretch, Volatile changed leads when prompted and kicked away from his three rivals.
The Steve Asmussen trainee crossed 1 1/4 lengths ahead in a final time of 1:09.61 for the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint.
“He was really on his toes today,” said Santana, Jr. “Steve gave him a lot of time from his last race and he was feeling great. I was really happy with how he was out there. … The gate opened and he put me in the spot that he wanted, and I was happy, too. Turning for home, he kicked really well.”
Whitmore tried getting a head start, breaking through his gate before the others had sprung open. He recovered nicely and finished a game second by a 1/2-length over Mind Control, himself a neck over Firenze Fire to complete the stout order of finish.
Lexitonian was a veterinarian scratch at the gate after he acted up during Whitmore’s antics and was deemed no longer fit to run.
Volatile’s win was his fourth straight and second at the stakes level, following June’s Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs where he missed tying the track record by 0.02 seconds. The 4-year-old Violence colt improved his overall record to 6-5-1-0 with $341,010 earned.
“We saw the first two races from him this year and they were absolutely brilliant,” Asmussen said. “I feel very good about getting those races into him before he met accomplished horses like this, but from an ability or a speed level, he has it all.”
Volatile returned $2.80 to win and $2.10 to place, while Whitmore paid $3 to place. There was no show betting after Lexitonian scratched.