07/28/2011 4:38PM

Saratoga: Great Mills at his best winning Quick Call

Tom Keyser
Great Mills, with Julien Leparoux riding, wins the Quick Call.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.  - Even as he was stretching him out in distance, trainer Steve Asmussen knew Great Mills was at his best as a turf sprinter.

That fact was reinforced Thursday afternoon at Saratoga when Great Mills corralled the pacesetting Fudgesicle in the final yards to win the $78,000 Quick Call Stakes by a head. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Bug Juice in third.

It was the fourth win from eight career starts for Great Mills, his third win from as many starts at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Great Mills won a pair of 5 1/2-furlong turf races at Fair Grounds during the winter and even carried his speed to victory in the 7 1/2-furlong Grindstone Stakes in March. At Keeneland, Great Mills lost to Air Support by only a nose in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. But after a fourth-place finish in the American Turf and a last-place finish in the Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs, Asmussen opted to cut him back to sprint distances.

"He's well intended at the turf sprint distances," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Great Mills for Ro Parra's Millennium Farms. "We took a shot at some money, but this is where he belongs and should stay."

In the Quick Call, Fudgesickle, under Joe Rocco Jr., jumped to the lead and ran a quarter-mile in 21.34 seconds and a half in 43.80. Great Mills, under Julien Leparoux, chased the pace and moved into second around the far turn. Great Mills pursued Fudgesicle through the lane before overtaking him four jumps from the wire.

Great Mills, a son of War Front, covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.31 and returned $7.20 as the favorite.

Higher Court, the 7-2 morning-line favorite, was scratched in the paddock because he had toe grabs on his hind shoes, which are prohibited to be worn in grass races.