08/31/2013 5:44PM

Saratoga: Silver Max goes gate to wire in Bernard Baruch

Barbara D. Livingston
Silver Max, under Robby Albarado, did just fine on Saratoga’s yielding turf.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The turf courses at Saratoga had been favoring speed for more than a week in part because of the firmness of the ground caused by a lack of rain.

That was going to suit Silver Max just fine for Saturday’s Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap.

But then the unfathomable happened. It rained. Was trainer Dale Romans fearful that might change things for Silver Max, the apparent lone speed in the 1 1/16-mile turf race?

“Every time something happens you’re concerned especially going into a big race like this,” Romans said. “If there’s anything to worry about you will worry about it. But he handled it well last year in Virginia, and it looked like he handled it real well today.”

Indeed, Silver Max handled the yielding Saratoga turf very well, taking some pressure from Tetradrachm early and having plenty left with which to finish late, winning the Bernard Baruch by two lengths over Paris Vegas. It was 6 1/4 lengths back to Tetradrachm in third. Turallure and So Long George completed the order of finish. Za Approval was scratched because of the soft turf, and Willyconker was scratched by the stewards after it was learned trainer Eric Guillot used a magnetic massage blanket on the horse within 24 hours of a race. By statute, no electrical devices are allowed to be used on a horse within 24 hours of a race.

For Silver Max, a 4-year-old son of Badge of Silver, the win was his second straight and 10th from 21 starts. He is owned by Mark Bacon and Dana Wells.

Silver Max, under Robby Albarado, opened up a length lead after running a quarter-mile in 23.88 seconds. Tetradrachm, under John Velazquez, attempted to apply some pressure after a half-mile in 47.34 seconds, but Silver Max spurted clear of that one around the turn.
When Tetradrachm couldn’t keep up, Paris Vegas, under Rosie Napravnik, picked up the chase, but was no match for Silver Max, who covered the 1 1/16 miles over the yielding turf in 1:42.31 and returned $3.80 as the 4-5 favorite.

“They came to me a little earlier than I anticipated,” Albarado said. “At the half-mile pole I felt a horse come to him. [I] pressed on him a little bit early, but he’s got such a high cruising speed and he holds it. For today I let him stretch the race out, and he held on, held off a couple of nice horses.”

Romans said that he may look to shorten Silver Max up  in distance and point for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, though the specter of Horse of the Year Wise Dan looms large in that division.

“We’re going to think it through,” Romans said. “He’s obviously a fast horse and he’s going to be a tough miler, but you have to deal with Dan when you’re going to go in that division, so that’s the only reason to think about doing something different.”