Updated on 09/15/2011 2:31PM

Saarland runs down Nokoma in Remsen


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Saarland made amends for disappointing efforts in the Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile by getting past Nokoma in the final strides to win Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000, Remsen Stakes* (click here for chart) by a neck before 6,681 at Aqueduct.

Nokoma, who split horses to make the lead inside the eighth pole, finished three lengths in front of third-place finisher Silent Fred. The stewards posted the inquiry sign after Jose Santos, the jockey aboard Silent Fred, checked sharply in deep stretch. But Santos told the stewards that Silent Fred ducked in on his own, and the result stood.

Since 1991, the Remsen has produced Kentucky Derby winners Go for Gin and Thunder Gulch, Preakness winner Pine Bluff, Travers winner Coronado's Quest, and the multiple Grade 1 winner Skip Away.

"When I left here with Coronado's Quest after the Remsen, I thought I had the real deal," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey, who also won the 1988 Remsen with Fast Play. "I think I did have it, he just went nuts. I'm going to be excited leaving here. If he comes along the way I want him to, he'll probably come back here and run in the Wood Memorial."

Saarland certainly has the breeding to make McGaughey and owner Cynthia Phipps excited about his 3-year-old campaign. He is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled out of a Danzig mare, Versailles Treaty, who won the Grade 1 Alabama at 10 furlongs.

After winning his maiden in his second start, Saarland broke poorly and bled when he finished a well-beaten fourth in the Champagne. He had no real excuse in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, finishing eighth, beaten 5 3/4 lengths.

Saturday, under John Velazquez, Saarland raced toward the back of the pack behind a moderate pace of 23.95 seconds, 48.36, and 1:13.16 contested by Seat Open, Monthir, and Robins Beauty. Saarland had just one horse beaten at the three-eighths pole, and was swung outside for the stretch drive.

While Nokoma, who was in fifth position down the backside, split horses to make the lead a furlong out, Saarland was rallying wide and was able to run down Nokoma 30 yards from the wire. Saarland covered the nine furlongs in 1:51.28 and returned $5.70 as the favorite.

"He is still learning and really doesn't know what this job is yet," Velazquez said. "He wants to come from behind, but you have to be aggressive with him to keep him in contact with the field."

Demoiselle: Smok'n Frolic rolls

Smok'n Frolic removed all doubt about her ability to get a distance of ground by registering a 4 1/2-length, gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 2, $200,000, Demoiselle Stakes* (click here for chart) for juvenile fillies. Lady Shari rallied from well back to be second, a neck ahead of Proxy Statement.

Under Velazquez, Smok'n Frolic dictated the pace from the outset, setting fractions of 24.29 seconds, 48.72, 1:13.48, 1:37.99, and stopped the clock in 1:50.57. That is the third-fastest Demoiselle since the race was moved to nine furlongs in 1975.

Smok'n Frolic, owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, returned $5.30 as the favorite. She finished her 2-year-old season with four wins from nine starts, including victories in the Fashion Stakes, Tempted, and Demoiselle.

Remsen Stakes Chart*

Demoiselle Stakes Chart*

* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.