10/20/2011 5:37PM

Keeneland: Sanagas best in Sycamore

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Sanagas (6), with Rajiv Maragh riding, defeats Tahoe Lake in the Sycamore.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sanagas unleashed a powerful stretch run before holding off a late bid from Tahoe Lake to post a half-length victory in the 17th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Sycamore Stakes on a dank Thursday afternoon at Keeneland Race Course.

With Rajiv Maragh giving a well-timed ride for owner Andreas Jacobs and trainer Graham Motion, Sanagas attended the early pace set by Bim Bam before striding clear nearing the furlong pole to register his second victory in four North American starts. A German-bred 5-year-old gelding, Sanagas returned $5.80 as second choice in a field of six older horses.

Tahoe Lake, sent away at 12-1, was another 2 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place Center Divider, who had substantial traffic trouble as the 8-5 favorite under Julien Leparoux before cutting loose to be a too-late third. Then came Bim Bam, Odds On, and Eagle Poise. Bold Hawk and Ashtar were early scratches.

The Sycamore was switched from 1 1/2 miles on the grass to a 1 5/8-mile Polytrack race because of weather. The winner finished in 2:39.40.

Sanagas "got into a nice rhythm early and finished very strong," said Maragh, in from New York for the day. The gelding won the restricted John's Call on the Saratoga turf two starts back and now has won 6 of 9 career starts.

"I thought it helped us when they switched to the Polytrack," said Motion. "This was the most professional race he has run. Every race he's improved. I think he's going to be a useful horse, especially next year."

Ontrack attendance on the gloomy day was 6,943.