07/25/2012 3:01PM

Saratoga: Hessonite finds softer spot in Irish Linnet Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Hessonite will be seeking her first win of 2012 in Friday’s $100,000 Irish Linnet Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Hessonite has dropped close decisions to her fellow New York-bred Gitchee Goomie in her last two starts, but she will finally duck that nemesis and appears well spotted to pick up her elusive first win of the year when facing a full field of statebred fillies and mares going a mile on the grass in Friday’s $100,000 Irish Linnet Stakes.

Hessonite was beaten a half-length by Gitchee Goomie despite trouble in the restricted Mount Vernon at Belmont Park on May 27 and then traveled to Parx Racing to lose by a similar margin to that same rival when the two faced open company in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap. In her only other start this season, Hessonite finished a tiring sixth behind Grade 1 winner Winter Memories in the Grade 3 Beaugay. Hessonite won four of her six starts, including three stakes, as a 3-year-old in 2011.

“Obviously, this is a little easier company, because I’m not running against Gitchee Goomie and I think she and my filly are the two leaders of this division,” trainer David Donk said. “The Beaugay was just a disaster to start the year. She ran up on the pace where she really doesn’t want to be. That race is just a throw-out. Last time, at Parx, she was maybe a little bit unlucky, and in the Mount Vernon, [Alan] Garcia rode a great race on Gitchee Goomie, keeping us trapped a long time before letting us out. I probably wouldn’t mind running a little farther some day. But she’s doing great and you have to run your grass horses when you can. She’ll be a short price Friday, which is just fine as long as she runs that way.”

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Ramon Dominguez, who guided Hessonite to her three stakes wins at 3, will again have the mount.

Rain could play a major factor in the outcome of the Irish Linnet, with heavy showers in the forecast for Thursday. Should the race come off the turf, Opus A figures to be the major beneficiary. Opus A, a stablemate of Gitchee Goomie from the barn of trainer Rick Violette, is already a three-time stakes winner over the main track in 2012 and is coming off a very game second-place against open company in Belmont’s Endear on July 4.