08/16/2010 6:45AM

Saratoga Boot runs off to Emerald Derby victory


AUBURN, Wash. – Saratoga Boot, overlooked in the wagering at 9-1, raced to a surprisingly easy victory Sunday in the $75,000 Emerald Derby at Emerald Downs.

A rapidly improving son of Storm Boot from the Saratoga Six mare Saratoga Sparkle, Saratoga Boot won for just the second time in eight starts, though the Tim McCanna-trained runner had hinted at his potential with a runner-up finish in the six-furlong Auburn Stakes in May, and a third-place effort behind Newfound Man and Posse Power in the 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew Handicap July 25.

Saratoga Boot made it look easy in the Emerald Derby, shooting to the lead under Kevin Krigger from the outside post position in a nine-horse field. After a quick first quarter mile (22.60 seconds), Krigger slowed the tempo, and Saratoga Boot had plenty in reserve at the top of the stretch, spurting to a five-length lead at the eighth pole and coasting home to win by 4 1/4 lengths. He ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.40 on a fast track and paid $21.40 as the fifth choice in the wagering.

“He knew where he wanted to be today,” Krigger said. “He put himself on the front end. I didn’t think that we were going 22 in the first quarter, but when you’re on the good horses, it always feels easy. He was playing around the whole way. When he switched to his left lead, he changed into another horse. I asked him, but he practically was going it on his own. He was a pro today.”

Longshot Ain, winless in two starts against maidens at Hastings in Vancouver, B.C., rallied to finish second, a half-length ahead of 6-5 favorite Posse Power. They were followed by Slew the Man, Clear to Canada, 3-1 second choice Newfound Man, Mr. Mad Max, Majestic Peak, and Koala Beach.

Saratoga Boot earned $41,250 for owner Gary Hughes of Clarkston, Wash.

McCanna, who ranks fourth all-time with 29 stakes victories at Emerald Downs, said he would aim Saratoga Boot for the $175,000 British Columbia Derby Sept. 26 at Hastings. A year ago, Winning Machine captured both races and was named Emerald’s top 3-year-old male.

The only remaining stakes for 3-year-olds on Emerald’s 2010 schedule is the restricted, $40,000 Chinook Pass Stakes on Washington Cup Day Sept. 12.