07/29/2009 11:00PM

Backtalk wins blanket finish in Sanford

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Backtalk assumed the early lead in the 2-year-old colt division with a hard-fought neck victory over Enumerate in Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga.

The top five finishers were separated by 1 1/4 lengths.

The victory was the third in as many starts for Backtalk, a son of Smarty Jones owned by Goldmark Farm and trained by Tom Amoss. The Sanford win came 27 days after Backtalk won the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs.

On a day when it was good to be close to the early pace, Backtalk was in sixth position, about six lengths off the early pace under Miguel Mena. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained entry of Soundman and Activity Report and the Todd Pletcher-trained Interactif dueled through splits of 21.99 seconds for the opening quarter and 44.96 for the opening half. Backtalk swept five wide turning for home, then was able to outfinish Enumerate, Louisvilleluminary, Nacho Friend, and Bulls and Bears.

Backtalk covered the six furlongs in 1:10.07 and returned $5.

"In all his races he displayed what we feel is an affinity to get a route of ground, which his pedigree suggested, too," said Amoss, who won his first stakes at Saratoga since Heritage of Gold took the Grade 1 Go for Wand exactly nine years ago. "The ability to come from that far off the pace on a day speed was a good commodity was a good sign."

Bulls and Bears, the second choice, had an eventful trip, breaking horribly under Alan Garcia and then weaving all over the place in the stretch.

"He went up in the air, stumbled, ducked out, did everything but turn around and go the other way," trainer Rick Violette said. "If he doesn't stumble at the three-sixteenths pole he still wins it. How much the best was he?"

* One race earlier, Awakino Cat ($20.20) wore down True to Tradition in the final 20 yards to win the $73,200 Quick Call Stakes by one length. True to Tradition who set a pressured pace, held second by a half-length over Redefined. Awakino Cat, trained by Linda Rice and ridden by Alan Garcia, covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.87.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch