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High aim with Original Spin
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The connections of Original Spin had modest objectives for their 3-year-old filly when they decided to ship her to Saratoga for the summer: Find a second-level allowance race early in the meet and then run in the Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes at the end.
After entering her three times in an allowance race only to have it not fill, the decision was made to run Original Spin in the Grade 1 Test Stakes. Original Spin set all the pace and had a two-length lead at the eighth pole only to be run down by Swap Fliparoo. Still, a second-place finish elated trainer Tony Mitchell and his wife and assistant, Sherri.
Sherri Mitchell said the two were "thrilled to death with her performance."
"She had a lot of critics, a lot of people were telling us we were crazy," she said. "She was training really well into it. She did everything we expected her to and more."
That performance, coupled with the fact she continues to thrive in Saratoga, may prompt another change of plans for Original Spin. Instead of running in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on Aug. 24, Original Spin could tackle the older fillies and mares in the Grade 1 Ballerina here on Aug. 27.
"It's a possibility," Sherri Mitchell said Wednesday morning. "We're still leaving our options open."
Mitchell made her comments after Original Spin breezed four furlongs in 47.65 seconds under jockey Fernando Jara. She was also intrigued to learn that Swap Fliparoo would miss the Ballerina because of an ankle injury.
"We're very happy with her," Mitchell said of Original Spin. "It's kind of hard not to be happy with her most of the time. She has a way of stepping up to the plate."
Original Spin remained in Saratoga rather than returning to Arlington Park, where the rest of the Mitchells' horses are stabled, in part because of the opportunities here and in part because of concerns over the track condition at Arlington, where a number of horses have gotten hurt.
"I know they're doing whatever they can to try and remedy it, but when you've got something of this caliber, you're not willing to be part of the experiment,'' Mitchell said.
Original Spin won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie as a 2-year-old and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Before the Test, she had run poorly in races at Gulfstream and Arlington.
There were 19 fillies and mares nominated to the Ballerina. Probable runners include Dubai Escapade, Stormy Kiss, and Indian Flare.
Wild Fit last of four in return
Wild Fit's easy return race wasn't so easy after all.
After leaping at the start when the gate opened, Wild Fit found herself 10 lengths behind the field, and she never showed interest thereafter, finishing last of four, beaten 20 1/4 lengths by Sugar Swirl in a second-level allowance race. Wild Fit was sent off as the 1-4 favorite in a race where show wagering was not offered.
Sugar Swirl, trained by Bobby Frankel, won the race by a neck over She's Indy Money. Sugar Swirl ran seven furlongs in 1:24 and returned $11.80 to win.
Wild Fit, a Grade 1 winner at 2 and the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, was making her first start since finishing third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks March 12.
"She jumped in the air and her race was over," Biancone said. "It happens. Better it happens in an allowance than a Grade 1."
Biancone said he would stick with his plan to run Wild Fit in the Grade 1 Gazelle at Belmont on Sept. 9.
Coa turns it around
After getting off to a disastrous 1-for-42 start at the meet, jockey Eibar Coa turned things around quickly. Since the seventh race on Aug. 4, Coa has won with 16 of his last 59 mounts - including two wins on Wednesday - to get back into contention for leading rider honors at the meet. His 17 wins put him in a second-place tie with Rafael Bejarano and John Velazquez. All are four behind Edgar Prado.
Two of Coa's 17 victories have come in Grade 1 stakes: the Test and Sword Dancer Invitational. Coa came into the Saratoga meet with a lot of momentum after coming one win shy of Prado for leading honors at the Belmont meet.
"It was kind of depressing, because you want to start off with them," said Coa, referring to his fellow riders. "Thank God it wasn't too long. Winning the Test was like a big, big push. It just made up for everything. I don't know if it makes you ride with more confidence or not, but for some reason things started working out better."
In addition to the Sword Dancer, Coa also won overnight stakes such as the Capote Belle, A in Sociology, and Irish Linnet.
Coa said winning one Grade 1 race at Saratoga is an accomplishment.
"That's good enough," he said. "Two brings extra happiness for anybody."
Though Coa doesn't have a ride in Saturday's Grade 1 Alabama, he will have an excellent shot at a third Grade 1 when he rides Commentator in the Forego on closing weekend.
Naughty New Yorker: Woodward next?
Naughty New Yorker has won just two races in the last 12 months, but both have come in New York-bred stakes at Saratoga at 1 1/8 miles. So, would trainer Pat Kelly think of running him back in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at 1 1/8 miles?
"Too early to tell," Kelly said. "It's a longshot. We'll monitor the situation."
Naughty New Yorker was the third winner in the last five starters sent out by Kelly, who is 4 for 15 at this meet. Kelly also won Sunday's Irish Linnet Stakes with Homerette and a maiden special race on Aug. 9 with Precise End.
"The stars are aligned," said Kelly, who once had a horse named Stars Aligned. "Homerette, she was sitting on a good race. I'm surprised she paid so much ($33.80). Coa rode her great. He saved ground and took advantage of the post."
Samyn out 10 weeks
Jockey Jean-Luc Samyn is expected to be out of action 10 weeks after breaking his collarbone and fracturing his pelvis during a training-hours spill here on Aug. 8.
Samyn, 49, was released from Saratoga Hospital on Tuesday and plans to spend about a week more in Saratoga Springs before returning home to Long Island.
"From the shoulder it takes four to six weeks, that's easy," Samyn said. "With the pelvis it probably takes 10 weeks, so we will see if we're lucky. It's a sad thing that it happened, but I'm lucky that it does not require surgery of any kind. Hopefully, it is well aligned and it can heal quickly."
If the 10 weeks proves accurate, Samyn would be ready to return by the opening of the Aqueduct fall meet.
While Samyn recuperates, his agent, Doug Hatten, will serve as agent for Chantal Sutherland.
Aunt Henny misses stakes
Aunt Henny, the Virginia Oaks winner, missed Friday's Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes because of a bruised foot, trainer Michael Matz said.
"It's just about cleared up, but she needs a work, so I don't know what I'm going to do with her yet," Matz said.