07/23/2012 6:27PM

Saratoga: Lunar Victory wins Evan Shipman in return

Barbara D. Livingston
Lunar Victory, with Junior Alvarado riding, wins the Evan Shipman, his first start since March.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Lunar Victory made a successful return to the races Monday at Saratoga, winning the $100,000 Evan Shipman Stakes for New York-breds by 2 1/2 lengths.

In his first start since March 3, Lunar Victory sparred with Johannesburg Smile through sharp early fractions before opening up turning for home. Though Lunar Victory began to idle late, he easily held off Sailmate, who finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over Johannesburg Smile.

Pure Attitude finished fourth, while Good Karma was last. Mineswept and Fiddlers Afleet, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, scratched. Fiddlers Afleet will point to the John Morrissey Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong race on Aug. 1, trainer David Jacobson said.

Lunar Victory has now won four consecutive races for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bill Mott. His previous win came on March 3 over Aqueduct’s inner track against open company, but he bled through Lasix that day was given time on the farm.

Lunar Victory had five works leading up to the Evan Shipman, but they were obviously enough to have him to fit to go 1 1/8 miles.

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Under Junior Alvarado, Lunar Victory broke sharply and raced just off the flank of Johannesburg Smile through a quarter in 23.54 seconds, a half-mile in 46.85 and six furlongs in 1:10.24.

Lunar Victory put Johannesburg Smile away turning for home and was never threatened late.

Lunar Victory, a 5-year-old son of Speightstown, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.30 and returned $4.40 as the 6-5 favorite.

“I had envisioned him settling three or four lengths off the lead perhaps, but it looked like the horse put himself there, he didn’t chase him to be there,” Mott said. “As it turned out he was going comfortably. I don’t think he was asking him to do something that he was unable to do.”