12/15/2012 4:50PM

Aqueduct: Saginaw fights hard to secure 10th win of year in Gravesend

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Saginaw, ridden by Junior Alvarado, pulls clear late to win the Gravesend by a length. He may come back in an attempt for his 11th win of the year in the Dec. 26 Alex Robb.

He’s not perfect, but Saginaw is a "10" after wearing down Royal Currier in Saturday’s 54th running of the $71,250 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct.

Carrying top weight of 119 pounds, Saginaw ($3.10) tracked second choice Royal Currier from the outside through fractions of 23.37 and 45.83 seconds, put a head in front just inside the eighth pole, and edged away beneath Junior Alvarado to score by a length after six furlongs in 1:09.40 on a fast inner track.

“I had the best horse in the race, so I put him right there,” said Alvarado. “He’s a class horse, and when I asked him he gave it all to me. It was pretty much easy at the end. When we turned for home, I knew how much horse I had. [Royal Currier] was still trying, but I had plenty of horse left.”

It was the 10th win from 13 starts this year for Saginaw, a 6-year-old gelding who has now emerged victorious nine times, including six stakes, since claimed for $30,000 by David Jacobson on March 8. His 10th win of the season put him a tie with Clean Jean and Winning Dubai for the most victories for a North American Thoroughbred in 2012.

Saginaw picked up another $45,000 for winning the Gravesend, and he isn’t through for the year yet.

“That was a legitimate horse he beat,” said Jacobson. They ran really fast. I’m happy to see he can compete in open company now. We’ll definitely be back for the Alex M. Robb [Dec. 26], provided he comes back okay. He’ll let us know.”

Royal Currier held on stubbornly in his first start for Linda Rice, and finished a clear second by three lengths over Isn’t He Perfect. Last year’s Gravesend winner, Frazil, finished last in the field of four.

Broad Rule and Hillswick were scratched.

Irad Oritz rides five winners

One race earlier, Wildcat’s Smile ($8.50) stalked even-money favorite Morrow Cove early, took over into the stretch and pulled away to win the $80,000 Sarcastic overnight stakes to give jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. his fifth win on the card.

Wildcat’s Smile, the lone New York-bred in the field of five 3-year-old fillies, ran a  mile and 70 yards in 1:41.98, and improved to 4-4-2 from 13 starts for trainer Dominic Galluscio.

Morrow Cove held second over Los Ojitos, as Ciguaraya and Greed and Fear completed the order of finish.

Ortiz swept the second through fourth races with Long River ($2.50), Lady Gracenote ($8.40), and Lisalisalee ($4.80), and also captured the sixth race aboard Readthebyline ($3.90). His bid for a sixth victory came up short when Sunshine Valentino finished third in the ninth and final race.