08/14/2013 4:47PM

Saratoga: Rail move enables Balance the Books to take Stroll

Tom Keyser
Balance the Books, ridden by Javier Castellano, prevails by a neck over Hardest Core in the Stroll Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Turning into the stretch behind a wall of horses aboard favored Balance the Books in the $100,000 Stroll Stakes, jockey Javier Castellano had a decision to make: Go wide and make an outside run or try to find room along the rail.

After initially attempt to go outside, Castellano steered Balance the Books to the inside, got through on the rail, and outfinished Hardest Core to win the Stoll by a neck. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Mills in third.

 The win was the first for Balance the Books in four starts this year and first since he won the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland last October. His other stakes victory came here last August when he won the Grade 2 With Anticipation as a maiden.

 Balance the Books ran in the Stroll after trainer Chad Brown scratched him out of the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes on Aug. 9 when that race was rained off the turf.

 The Stroll nearly suffered the same fate after heavy rains Tuesday forced management to move three of the five scheduled turf races on Wednesday’s card to the dirt. But racing secretary P.J. Campo received permission from the stewards to move the Stroll from the outer turf to the inner turf while changing the distance from 1 3/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles.

 Balance the Books sat a little closer to the pace usual,  racing about two to three lengths off I’ll Call and Channel Isle, who sparred through modest fractions of 24.07 seconds for a quarter and 49.05 for a half-mile.

 Coming to the quarter pole, Castellano did take Balance the Books off the rail, but quickly went back to the inside and was able to rally along the inside of a tiring Channel Isle. Hardest Core, who was sixth of seven early, rallied widest of all under Luis Saez, but was outfinished by Balance the Books.

 Balance the Books, a 3-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, covered the 1 1/8 miles over yielding ground in 1:50.86 and returned $6.20 as the favorite.

 “I think that was the key to winning the race was when I made that move at the eighth pole because if I go around I would have missed the photo finish,” said Castellano, who won his second race on the card to move to the top of the jockey standings 33-32 over Joel Rosario.