08/07/2016 6:02PM

Royal Posse justifies decision to run in Alydar

Barbara D. Livingston
The New York-bred Royal Posse, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., defeats open company in the Alydar.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Owner Michael Dubb was somewhat reluctant to enter Royal Posse in Sunday’s $100,000 Alydar Stakes, preferring to run the gelding in a New York-bred race instead.

But there was no such race for Royal Posse to run in until the Evan Shipman Stakes on Sept. 2 and Dubb didn’t want to wait that long, especially considering Royal Posse’s affinity for Saratoga and two-turn racing.

Earlier in the day, Dubb saw Martin Panza, the senior vice president of racing operations for the New York Racing Association, and said, “I know you guys wanted me in this race because you needed the horse. I’ll probably win,’ ” Dubb said.

Royal Posse, under Irad Ortiz Jr., did just that, stalking the pacesetting Touchofstarquality from third before tipping outside at the top of the stretch and running down that rival with 70 yards to go to win the Alydar by 1 1/4 lengths. Touchofstarquality, who made all the pace under Jose Ortiz, finished second by 5 1/2 lengths over Mylute.

He was followed, in order, by Honorable Duty, Island Town, 4-5 favorite Far From Over, and Natchez.

The win was the eighth from 31 starts for Royal Posse, a 5-year-old gelding by Posse. He is 4 for 6 at Saratoga and he has won six times around two turns.

“That’s why we claimed him because we know he can go two turns,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who claimed the horse for Dubb for $20,000 in May 2015.

Last summer, at Saratoga, Royal Posse had a second and two wins, including a nose decision in the Evan Shipman. He won two-turn stakes at Gulfstream and over Aqueduct’s main track before finishing second as an odds-on favorite in a pair of one-turn New York-bred stakes this summer at Belmont.

Sunday, he was sent off at 5-1 in part because he was facing open company and the undefeated Far From Over.

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Far From Over didn’t break well under John Velazquez and never got involved in the race. He finished sixth, beaten 16 3/4 lengths.

“He didn’t break and he never put in any effort whatsoever,” Velazquez said.

Meanwhile, Irad Ortiz Jr. won three races on the card and now has a meet-leading 27 victories, nine more than Velazquez..

Royal Posse covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.93 and returned $13.80 as the fourth betting choice.

Though the Alydar was designed to be a prep for the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodard on Sept. 3, Dubb said it is more likely that Royal Posse will run in the Evan Shipman the day before.

“He’s such an honest horse and tries so hard, the way to keep him honest is keeping him in places where he’s competitive and not running him over his head,” Dubb said.