02/01/2009 12:00AM

Saratoga Sinner scores upset


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Saturday's $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park turned into virtually a two-horse race from start to finish. It just wasn't the two horses most observers might have expected.

With graded stakes winners West Side Bernie and Beethoven unable to overcome disadvantageous post positions as well as their 122-pound weight assignments, and 6-5 favorite Danger to Society turning in a disappointing performance, Bear's Rocket and Saratoga Sinner controlled the 1 1/8-mile Holy Bull from start to finish. Saratoga Sinner, a 12-1 chance ridden by Julien Leparoux, ultimately prevailed by three-quarters of a length over the 33-1 Bear's Rocket.

West Side Bernie, winner of the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile and sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, did well to finish third, three lengths further back, after being forced to take the wide route around the second turn and into the stretch.

Beethoven, who captured the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to close out his 2-year-old campaign, lost considerable ground on the opening turn after breaking from post 10, moved into striking position down the backstretch, briefly challenged the leaders three wide leaving the quarter pole, but had little left once settling into the stretch. He gradually faded to finish fourth, a half-length behind West Side Bernie.

But the day ultimately belonged to Saratoga Sinner, a son of Harlan's Holiday, who was winless in two starts at 2 and who won his maiden here just 24 days earlier with a mere 73 Beyer Speed Figure.

Bear's Rocket, the most experienced member of the field with seven starts at 2, quickly sped clear with Saratoga Sinner stalking the leader from the outset. The pair set moderate fractions while continuing in that order to the final turn, where they were briefly joined by Beethoven. Saratoga Sinner eventually forged to a short advantage approaching the eighth pole before gradually moving off near the end.

Saratoga Sinner is trained by Eddie Kenneally for the Lally Stable. He covered the distance in 1:51.45 over a fast track and paid $26.80.

"After he broke his maiden, Julien came back and said he's better than he showed. He ran a little green that day," said Kenneally. "So we decided to step him up in this race rather than go back in an allowance.

"He's had two wins at a mile and one-eighth over this track, so we'll definitely point for the Florida Derby" on March 28.

Barbaro's brother shows little

All the anticipation surrounding the debut of Barbaro's baby brother Nicanor here Saturday was, at least for the time being, much ado about nothing.

Nicanor's appearance in Saturday's eighth race, a maiden special weight event for 3-year-olds at a mile, created quite a media stir and garnered nationwide attention both within and outside the racing world.

Unfortunately, Nicanor failed to live up to everybody's lofty expectations.

After breaking a step slowly, Nicanor recovered to move to close contention along the inside while under a rating hold from Edgar Prado, who was also Barbaro's regular rider. But it was apparent after six furlongs that Nicanor had little left as he gradually began to plummet towards the rear of the field, with Prado merely riding him out through the final furlong.

Nicanor eventually finished 10th, some 25 lengths behind race winner Warrior's Reward, after going off the 5-2 second choice.

"He grabbed the quarter of the left front leg leaving the gate," said Michael Matz who also guided Barbaro's star-crossed career. "He wasn't comfortable, so Edgar just wrapped up on him."