08/15/2012 2:59PM

Saratoga: Bridgetown works hard for Troy Stakes repeat

Tom Keyser
Bridgetown (right) wins the Troy Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Last summer, Bridgetown cruised to a 6 3/4-length victory in Saratoga’s grassy Troy Stakes. On Wednesday, Bridgetown had to work a lot harder to defend that title, ultimately emerging with a well deserved half-length victory over Perfect Officer in the 5 1/2-furlong Troy.

Bridgetown, a 5-year-old son of Speightstown, broke alertly and quickly set up shop on the front end while well rated by jockey John Velazquez. Perfect Officer stalked Bridgetown from the outset and continued to press the leader as the pair turned for home. But when Velazquez said go, Bridgetown responded readily, fending off the challenge to post his first victory in four starts this season and first since the 2011 Troy.

“Running the Troy once a year is not enough,” trainer Todd Pletcher quipped in the winner’s circle after the race.

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Perfect Officer was easily second best, finishing four lengths in front of the slow-starting Wekiva Wachee. Regally Ready, the reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf Spring champ, saved ground while racing behind the leaders but had no rally and finished a tiring fifth.

Bridgetown, a homebred owned by the Melnyk Racing Stables, paid $4.90 as the favorite in a scratch reduced field of seven. Final time was 1:01.52 over a firm course.

“We thought he might be the speed of the race and we wanted to try to get him to settle as best we could and hope we had something left for the finish,” said Pletcher. “I think we got a little lucky missing the rain and getting a firm turf course which seems to be to his liking. When Bridgetown’s on his “A” game he’s pretty tough to get by.”