08/11/2016 5:31PM

Free N Clear wins Statue of Liberty statebred stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Free N Clear and jockey Junior Alvarado win the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Stakes by half a length on Thursday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When Pat Quick claimed Free N Clear for $25,000 last winter at Aqueduct, he never envisioned that the 3-year-old filly might give him the first stakes winner of his training career at Saratoga.

But the much-improved former claimer did just that on Thursday, wearing down pacesetter Louisville First to register a half-length decision in the $100,000 Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series.  

Free N Clear has now won three of six starts since Quick haltered her in the interests of the Paradise Farms Corp. six months ago. Much of her improvement has come since he switched her to turf this past spring at Belmont Park.

“She’s a beautiful filly and had come in second in her previous start when we claimed her, so we thought at the least we’d be able to break her maiden and she’d be worth the $25,000 we put up for her,” said Quick. “Then we tried her on the grass, and she’s definitely better on turf.”

Free N Clear was aggressively ridden by Junior Alvarado, making a run three wide to challenge the leaders down the backstretch before easing back a bit around the second bend. She then responded to late urging to finally overtake a game Louisville First near the wire.

Louisville First repulsed several bids on the lead before succumbing at the end while easily best of the others. Ametrine finished another 2 1/2 lengths back in third.

Frosty Margarita, the 7-5 favorite, raced well placed for six furlongs but had little left through the stretch, finishing in a dead heat for fourth in a scratched-reduced field of seven New York-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Free N Clear completed a mile over the firm turf in 1:36.94 and paid $19.60. He gave Quick his first stakes winner since Sensational Slam captured the Diablo at Belmont Park in May 2014.

“This is a great experience, winning my first stakes at Saratoga,” said Quick. “Any time you win a race here, it’s great. If you win a stakes race, it’s really, really great. I told Junior before the race not to leave anything in the tank. That happened a couple of starts back, when she got beat but galloped out another mile after the race.

“He thought they were stealing it up front, so he put her in the race early. When he realized he had a lot of horse, he eased her back a little bit, and when it was time to go again, she went.”

:: Enjoy news and analysis from DRF? Get handicapping analysis, real-time coverage, special reports, and charts. Unlock access with DRF Plus.