09/05/2010 6:10PM

Lethal Combination's late move does the trick in Saranac


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Given how speed-favoring the turf at Saratoga had become, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin wasn’t loving where Lethal Combination was in the early stages of Sunday’s $100,000 Saranac Stakes.

Until he saw the fractions, that is.

With Devon Rock setting a strong early pace chased by race favorite Fantastico Roberto, McLaughlin was okay with Alan Garcia keeping Lethal Combination in last position. Launching a five-wide bid around the far turn and into the stretch, Lethal Combination outfinished Turf Melody in the last sixteenth to win the Grade 3 Saranac by a half-length. It was three lengths back to Fantastico Robert in third. They were followed in the order of finish by Mystic, Devon Rock and Citrus Kid.

"It’s been speed, speed, speed," McLaughlin said. "Luckily a couple of them thought the same thing and went fast and set it up for us. "We wanted to be a little closer but the horse didn’t cooperate, so Alan rode a great race. Sat back and made a nice run; it worked out."

Lethal Combination won for the fourth time in 11 starts. It was his first stakes win in his fifth such race.

Devon Rock, under Javier Castellano, and Fantastic Roberto, under John Velazquez, dueled for the early lead through a quarter in 23.22 seconds. Devon Rock cleared Fantastico Roberto entering the backstretch but had to run a half-mile in 46.49 seconds and three-quarters of a mile in 1:10.79.

"I was happy as the fractions kept coming up because three-quarters in [1:10.79] going this far was nice to see," McLaughlin said.

Lethal Combination, a gelded son of Broken Vow owned by Terrence Murray’s Namcook Stables, covered the 1 3/16 miles in 1:53.70 over a firm outer turf course and returned $8.60 as the 3-1 third choice.

McLaughlin said he may point Lethal Combination to the Grade 1, $250,000 Jamaica at Belmont Park on Oct. 9.