08/31/2011 4:53PM

Saratoga: Relaxed Alaura Michele saves best for stretch in P.G. Johnson


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - So keen was Alaura Michele when she won a six-furlong maiden race in late June at Belmont Park that trainer Bill Mott did not know what to expect from the 2-year-old filly when he stretched her out in distance for Wednesday’s $75,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga.

Much to Mott’s surprise, Alaura Michele displayed a willingness to relax and with something left for the stretch, she overtook New Wave inside the sixteenth pole and drew clear for a 2 1/4-length victory in the P.G. Johnson. New Wave, who set modest early fractions, held second by 1 1/4 lengths over Bourbonstreetgirl. Putthebabiesdown, Crazy Party, the 4-5 favorite, and My Due Process completed the order of finish in the scratch-reduced field of six.

Under Eddie Castro, Alaura Michele raced in the two-path while in fifth position, about five lengths behind New Wave, who set fractions of 23.69 seconds for the quarter, 48.53 for the half-mile, and 1:13.11 for six furlongs.

Around the far turn, Castro tipped Alaura Michele three wide and she quickly moved to the leaders turning for home. New Wave, under Alex Solis, persevered in the stretch, putting away a challenge along the inside from Crazy Party, but Alaura Michele overtook her in deep stretch to earn the victory.

Alaura Michele, a daughter of Arch owned and bred by Anthony Manganaro’s Siena Farm, covered the 1 1/16 miles over a good Mellon turf course in 1:42.95 and returned $8.40 as the second choice.

“We knew she had the mechanics to stretch out, we weren’t sure if she’d be ready to stretch out this time because we weren’t sure if she’d relax well enough and she did,” Mott said.  “I could have envisioned her being a little rank but she was in behind horses and she rated actually pretty well.”