08/15/2016 3:18PM

Gunnevera rallies from far back to win Saratoga Special

Barbara D. Livingston
Gunnevera was nearly 10 lengths off the pace before rallying to win the Saratoga Special on Sunday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Gunnevera left steamy Florida and found a hot pace in Sunday’s $200,000 Saratoga Special to his liking,  rallying from far back to a one-length victory over the odds-on Recruiting Ready in the Grade 2 dash for 2-year-olds.

Recruiting Ready, the 2-5 favorite in a field of just five 2-year-olds, was ultimately disqualified from second and placed fourth for  bumping and knocking third-place finisher Tip Tap Tapizar off stride near the three-eighths pole.   

Gunnevera needed three starts to finally win his maiden earlier this summer at Gulfstream Park. But Antonio Sano, who trains the son of Dialed In for the Peacock Racing Stables of Jaime Diaz, was confident the added distance of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special would be to his colt’s liking.

Gunnevera fell nearly 10 lengths off the early pace set by Get Lit N Get Wild and forced by the other three members of the field, including Recruiting Ready, who rated widest of the four leaders through a 21.69 opening quarter. Recruiting Ready took command midway on the turn and opened a seemingly comfortable advantage leaving the furlong grounds. But by that time, Gunnevera was in full flight under Javier Castellano, swinging wide turning for home before readily running down the tiring leader near the end. It was another 14 lengths back to Tip Tap Tapizar, who was followed across the line by Sonic Mule and Get Lit N Get Wild.

Gunnevera, who proved no match for south Florida’s top 2-year-old Three Rules in his first two starts, completed 6 1/2 furlongs over a track upgraded from good to fast in 1:17.00 and paid $20.40. The win was the first for Sano, among the leading trainers at Gulfstream for the past several years, at Saratoga. 

“I told Castellano (Javier) this horse is slow from the start, but the last three furlongs he’ll run strong and he followed instructions 100 percent,” Sano said. “I said a month ago how much I liked this horse. I just knew he needed more distance. See you back here on September 5."

Sano was referring to bringing Gunnevera back to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Hopeful on Sept. 5, closing day, of the 2016 meeting.

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