08/05/2011 5:17PM

Saratoga: Sanagas best in John's Call

Tod Marks
Sanagas, with Rajiv Maragh ridin, wins the John's Call.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Imagine how good Sanagas might be if he could run a straight line.

One race after attempting to lug in, Sanagas attempted to lug out in the stretch of Friday's $81,000 John's Call Stakes at Saratoga. Yet despite his desire to visit the outside rail, Sanagas won the John's Call by 2 1/4 lengths over Center Divider, who nailed Bold Hawk in the last jump for second.

For Sanagas, a German-bred son of Lomitas, it was his fifth victory from seven starts. He went 4 for 5 in Germany.

In his U.S. debut, Sanagas was beaten 3 1/4 lengths when he was seventh in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap. Trainer Graham Motion said that rider Rajiv Maragh told him the horse was attempting to lug in so badly that Motion equipped the horse with an extension blinker over his left eye to prevent him from doing that in this race.

After lagging behind the pack for most of the 1 5/8-mile turf race, Maragh guided Sanagas to an outside path turning for home. Sanagas kept on drifting to the outside, but he also kept closing powerfully and won in spite of himself.

"He was perfectly fine running straight with the pack early through the whole race," Maragh said. "But I wanted to have a clear shot, so I angled him to the outside, and once I did that he just kept on going to the outside. I really didn't ask him for everything, because he was kind of drifting out. I had the race won. I wanted to be comfortable, so I didn't get too busy on him with the whip or anything."

Sanagas covered the distance in 2:41.45 on a firm course and paid $13.80 to win.

Motion said he actually thought about running Sanagas in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational next weekend because he thought the John's Call was so competitive. But ultimately he decided that running in a Grade 1 was "too big a step."

That could change for Sanagas' next start.

"I think that was pretty impressive, I really do," Motion said. "I think we got to find out in the next six weeks how good he is. It's that time of year right?"

Bearpath unseated jockey Frederic Lenclud a quarter of a mile into the race and suffered a stress fracture in his shoulder, according to trainer Ian Wilkes. Wilkes said veterinarians were examining Bearpath to see if he could survive the injury.

Arena Elvira takes Madame Jumel

Earlier on the card, Arena Elvira, under Jose Lezcano, rallied past stablemate Acronym to win the $77,000 Madame Jumel Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/4 lengths. Both Arena Elvira and Acronym are trained by Bill Mott.

Arena Elivra, a daughter of Ghostzapper owned by Carolyn Wilson, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.48 and returned $5.70 as the 9-5 favorite.