The 3-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly brought a better thrill to her connections Aug. 19 at Saratoga Race Course, where she turned in a dominant 5 1/2-length victory in the $600,000, Grade 1 Alabama Stakes.
Elate made easy work of pacesetter It Tiz Well after that one showed the field of nine through swift quarter-mile fractions of :23.46, :46.96, and 1:10.92. Jockey Jose Ortiz moved his mount into contention from fifth leaving the quarter pole, and swung four wide around the far turn to take command near the head of the lane through a 1:35.87 mile.
From the top of the stretch to the finish line, Elate widened the distance until she was all alone at the finish line under a strong hand ride. The final time for the 1 1/4-mile race on a fast track was 2:02.19.
“It looked like we were going to be a little bit wide going through the first turn. ... It looked like when he left the half-mile pole, [Jose Ortiz] moved her into contention and it looked like she had dead aim on them by the time she reached the quarter-pole,” Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said. “It was more of a forward-type of race for her. It looks like the mile and a quarter is her type of trip. She finished well, she’s got a nice burst of speed, and she stays on well.”
“She broke well and put me into a great position going into the first turn on the backside. When I got to the three-eighths pole, I felt I had a lot of horse underneath me,” Ortiz said. “I just went along with her and as we entered the stretch, she really got going and I didn’t look back, I kept riding. It’s a Grade 1 and I didn’t want to look back for anybody, I just focused on riding her to the finish. I’m glad that she won, because ever since the first day I got on her in the morning, we thought she was going to be a really nice filly.”
It Tiz Well, who set quick opening fractions, held on for second over Salty.
Elate returned $10.60, $6, and $4.20 as the 4-1 second choice. She picked up her first graded stakes score in the top-level event. A third-generation homebred, she was produced in Kentucky out of the stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare Cheery, who is out of multiple graded stakes winner Yell. She improved her record to three wins, three seconds, and one third from eight starts, for earnings of $530,325.
“We gave her a little bit of time after she broke her maiden and we started cranking her up and getting her ready for the races, and it was just kind of like she really hadn’t come alive yet,” Mott said. “She was doing fine. Her works were good without being spectacular, and you could tell she was probably a filly that was going through a little bit of a growing stage, a development stage. We said then that she probably wouldn’t be on her game for the Kentucky Oaks, that she was more of an Alabama filly, and that’s exactly how it worked out.”
The Alabama win was the first for Ortiz and third for Mott, who also took the race in 2005 with Sweet Symphony and in 2011 with Royal Delta.
“There was no pressure,” the trainer said. “I just wanted the win for the filly and for the connections. Ms. Dilschneider is such a great person. She’s just a wonderful lady, one of the great women of the turf. You couldn’t have a better owner. She loves her horses and she was looking forward to this as much as I was.”
Mother Goose Stakes winner Unchained Melody was pulled up by jockey Joel Rosario, loaded onto the equine ambulance under her own power, and vanned off.
“I had to keep asking her to just hold my position and she was there and at one point, she wasn’t,” Rosario said. “Everybody was getting away from me. She was steady, just didn't want to do it. After that, I just had to pull her up and make sure she was OK. She was feeling fine physically. I don't know, she just got tired. I don’t know what happened.”