07/29/2017 6:18PM

El Deal makes Vanderbilt his third straight triumph

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Barbara D. Livingston
El Deal paid $7.10 in winning the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Shortly after El Deal came into his barn earlier this year, trainer Jorge Navarro had the jockey Emisael Jaramillo work the horse at Gulfstream Park.

When Jaramillo got off El Deal, he told Navarro the horse was better than X Y Jet, the colt with whom Navarro won multiple graded stakes.

“I said, ‘You’re crazy,’ " Navarro said he told Jaramillo.

Perhaps not.

El Deal was crazy good on Saturday at Saratoga, breaking sharply out of the gate under Javier Castellano and rolling to an eight-length victory in the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga. Awesome Banner rallied to get second by a head over Limousine Liberal, the 8-5 favorite. He was followed by Bird Song, Spartiatis, Ready for Rye, and Green Gratto.

A. P. Indian, who won this race last year and who was the morning-line favorite Saturday, was scratched early Saturday afternoon after trainer Arnaud Delacour said the horse was lame in his left front ankle.

El Deal, a 5-year-old son of Munnings, won for the third time in as many starts since Navarro had owners Albert and Michelle Crawford buy him privately earlier this year. The first win came at Charles Town in a starter handicap. The second came in the Decathlon Stakes at Monmouth Park last month.

In choosing to step up into a Grade 1, Navarro said he told the Crawfords “it was time to find out what he’s about.”

El Deal apparently is about speed. He roared out of the gate and maintained a half-length lead over Green Gratto through an opening quarter in 22.50 seconds. He widened his lead to three lengths after a half-mile in 45.28 and left the field in his wake running five furlongs in 57.03 seconds and covering six furlongs ion 1:09.26. El Deal returned $7.10 as the third choice.

El Deal won for the ninth time in 16 starts. He pushes his career earnings to $505,025.

Castellano was riding El Deal for the first time.

“He told me break out of the gate, don’t look back, he’s a fast horse use your best skill and try to put him on the lead and let him roll,” Castellano said. “I followed instructions and enjoyed the ride.”

Navarro said he would look to keep the horse at six furlongs and would likely skip the Grade 1 Forego at seven furlongs here Sept. 2. A potential next start for El Deal could be the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, Navarro said X Y Jet, who has not raced since last November, is back in training at Monmouth Park, potentially giving Navarro a powerful 1-2 punch for the fall.