08/03/2013 5:51PM

Saratoga: Assateague rallies to win De La Rose

Barbara D. Livingston
Assateague, with Luis Saez riding, stays clear of her rivals in the De La Rose.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Assateague showed a new dimension on Saturday and as a result became a stakes winner for the first time, rallying from off the pace to a half-length victory over Ruthenia in the $100,000 De La Rose at Saratoga. Laugh Out Loud, the 7-5 favorite in a field of eight fillies and mares, rallied belatedly to finish third.

Assateague, a homebred daughter of Stormy Atlantic, had registered each of her three previous victories on the lead. But after stumbling briefly at the break, jockey Luis Saez allowed Assateague to settle off a blistering early pace set by Open Water and Baffle Me, who dueled through an opening six furlongs in 1:08.94.

Saez eased Assateague out three wide to challenge the leaders into the stretch, edged well clear nearing the eighth pole, then withstood a late surge from Ruthenia.

Assateague, who is owned by the partnership of Helen Alexander, Dorothy Matz, and Helen Groves, covered one mile over a firm course in 1:34.45 and paid $48.60 as the second-longest price on the board.

“We knew she’d be close to the pace but we were just hoping she didn’t get into a speed duel,” said trainer Michael Matz. “Maybe stumbling in the beginning helped her, and [Saez] did a terrific job settling her. She’s won two in a row now after we had so much bad luck with her during her 2-year-old and 3-year-old seasons. Hopefully, we’re getting things in order that we can go on with her now.”

Matz said he would probably give Assateague a little break and then look for a race for her in September.