07/27/2013 3:27PM

Saratoga: Lighthouse Bay pulls shocker in Prioress

Tom Keyser
Lighthouse Bay (right), a 21-1 shot under Joe Rocco Jr., outduels pacesetter Wildcat Lilly to win the Grade 1 Prioress on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer George Weaver was eyeing a $100,000 overnight stakes for Lighthouse Bay when he decided to call an audible and enter the 3-year-old filly in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress Stakes at Saratoga instead.

With a seven-horse field that scratched down to six, Weaver thought it was worth taking a shot if only to try and get third and a Grade 1 stakes placing.

“You never know, we might hit a home run and we did,” Weaver said.

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

Under Joe Rocco Jr., Lighthouse Bay, a 21-1 shot, rallied along the inside in the stretch and outfinished the pacesetting Wildcat Lily to the wire to win the Prioress by a half-length. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Irish Lute in third. So Many Ways and Little Rocket finished fourth and fifth.

Meanwhile, Kauai Katie, the 2-5 favorite, failed to fire and finished last of six, triggering show payoffs of $27,20, $9.70 and $17.80. There was $254,105 bet to show on Kauai Katie out of $317,208 in the pool.

For Lighthouse Bay, the win was the fourth from seven career starts. She had never before run in a graded stakes, never mind a Grade 1.

“I was astonished that George put her in,” said Richard Pollard, who along with his wife, Evelyn, races under the moniker Richlyn Farm.

For Weaver, it was his first Grade 1 win in North America. He had won the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with Saratoga County, also for the Pollards.

Rocco had Lighthouse Bay in fourth position as Wildcat Lily and So Many Ways dueled through a quarter of 22.22 seconds and a half-mile in 45.12 with Kauai Katie just off of that pair. Kauai Katie was perched three wide approaching the quarter pole, but her jockey, John Velazquez, knew she was struggling to be there.

“She didn’t fire at all," Velazquez said. "Even after the first sixteenth of a mile I tried to put her into the race and hold my position so I don’t get carried too wide. She didn’t put in much effort.”

Meanwhile, Rocco kept his position along the rail with Lighthouse Bay, and when Wildcat Lily, under Javier Castellano, floated well off the fence turning for home, Rocco seized the opportunity to call on his filly. He had a stubborn foe in Wildcat Lily, but ultimately prevailed.

Rocco said he didn’t notice that Kauai Katie was sputtering.

“I was more concentrated on where I was going to go and what the options were in front of me,” Rocco said. “When Javier floated them out I saw my hole and shot through.”

Lighthouse Bay covered the six furlongs in 1:09.29 and returned $45.20 to win.