07/21/2012 2:27PM

Saratoga: Fiddlers Patriot nearly breaks his own track record

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer George Weaver plans to run Fiddlers Patriot in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Two years after setting the local course record going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, Fiddlers Patriot returned to nearly eclipse his own mark when he drew away to a 2 1/2-length victory over Perfect Officer in Saturday’s $100,000 Willard Straight Stakes at Saratoga.

Fiddlers Patriot established the current standard of 1:00.59 winning a second-level optional claiming race for New York-breds during the summer of 2010. On Saturday, he fell just .04 of a second short of equaling that standard while posting his second stakes win in three starts this season.

With jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard, Fiddlers Patriot was rated just off a disputed early pace set by the 4-5 Bridgetown and forced by Zero Rate Policy. Fiddlers Patriot engaged Bridgetown entering the stretch, forged to command near the eighth pole, and gradually edged well clear.

Perfect Officer was fanned well wide leaving the turn but continued gamely once straightened away to finish second, a head in front of the tiring Bridgetown.

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Fiddlers Patriot, a 6-year-old son of Proud Citizen trained by George Weaver for the partnership of James Olson and the R A Hill Stable, returned $7.90.

“I was concerned about Bridgetown being on the lead by himself and I was glad they decided to be aggressive with the one [Zero Rate Policy] and hook the favorite,” said Weaver. “He’s the kind of horse who’ll make only five or six starts a season. He’s got a crabby way of going and problems with his feet. He gets quarter cracks. But on a day the conditions are right he can break the track record. He’s a very fast critter.”

Weaver said his main goal for Fiddlers Patriot the rest of the season is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

“We’re hoping to make it to the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year,” said Weaver. “I think he’ll handle the downhill at Santa Anita and the 6 1/2 [furlongs]. He won going seven furlongs at Belmont.”