08/06/2017 3:56PM

Estrechada notches first win in six U.S. starts

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Barbara D. Livingston
Estrechada paid $20.00 in winning the Waya Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Six years ago, California-based trainer Mike Puype came to Saratoga for the first time and left a winner after his 3-year-old filly Turbulent Descent registered a popular victory in the Grade 1 Test. On Saturday, Puype kept his perfect Spa record intact after sending out the less-fancied Estrechada to register a half-length decision over Lottie as a 9-1 outsider in the $200,000 Waya Stakes.

The Grade 3 Waya was Estrechada’s second start in New York. The Argentinean-bred had journeyed east four weeks earlier only to encounter an eventful trip when finishing sixth against much the same field in the River Memories at Belmont Park.

There were no traffic issues, however, for Estrechada with recently elected Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano aboard for the first time in the 12-furlong Waya.

Castellano allowed Estrechada to settle within easy striking distance of the pace-setting Apple Betty, who was stalked from the outset by the 4-5 favorite Suffused. Castellano put Estrechada into a steady drive entering the final turn, the pair overtaking the leaders near the furlong marker, edging clear before withstanding a final bid from Lottie. The latter eased out behind the winner nearing midstretch, surged late after finally switching back to her right lead inside the sixteenth pole, but was not quite good enough.

Apple Betty succumbed grudgingly through the final furlong to finish another neck farther back in third. Suffused had little excuse, ultimately checking home a tiring fifth in a field of seven older fillies and mares long-distance specialists.

Estrechada completed the distance in 2:02.24 over a turf course officially called firm but which took quite a bit of rain a couple of hours before post time. Owned by Slugo Racing, Estrechada returned $20.00 after registering her first win in six U.S. starts.  

“To be honest, I don’t know how she was 9-1 after her last race,” Puype said. “She never got out to run at all that day and was beaten only a length and one-half. It’s all distance with her. She’s not a mile and one-eighth or a mile and one-quarter horse. It’s the longer distances that make her run best. Javier rode her great. He put her in the garden spot, got her settled and even though he put her in a drive a long ways out, that’s just the way she is. Very steady the farther she goes.”  

Puype said he would consider bringing Estrechada back to Saratoga for the Grade 3, mile-and-three-furlong Glens Falls on Sept. 2.