08/02/2012 2:35PM

Saratoga: Spy in the Sky takes Smithwick by inches

Tom Keyser
Spy in the Sky wins the A. P. Smithwick at Saratoga on Wednesday despite coming off the last jump awkwardly.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – With less than a quarter mile to run, all 10 starters in Thursday’s $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga were bunched within just a length of one another as the field turned into the stretch. And at the wire, after 2 1/16 grueling miles over nine hurdles, only inches separated the winner of the Grade 1 Smithwick, the 25-1 Spy in the Sky, from the hard-luck runner-up Left Unsaid.

Spy in the Sky had not won a race since March 27, 2010, when he captured the Grade 2 Carolina Cup. But he is certainly no stranger to the Saratoga winner’s circle, having captured the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Handicap by better than 10 lengths during the summer of 2009.

Spy in the Sky was forced to fan extremely wide off the final turn under jockey Danielle Hodsdon to secure clearance for his final run. He overtook the tiring leader All Together approaching the final hurdle, lost a bit of momentum when taking the last jump somewhat awkwardly, then by a nose withstood a late surge by Left Unsaid. All Together held in bravely once relinquishing the lead to finish another 1 1/2 lengths farther back in third.

Divine Fortune, the two-time defending Smithwick winner, encountered traffic issues on a couple of occasions in the closely bunched field and finished fifth as the 3-2 favorite. All four members of the favored Irvin Naylor entry finished off the board.

Spy in the Sky, an 8-year-old son of Thunder Gulch trained by Jimmy Day for the Randleston Farm, paid $52. Neither the winning owner or trainer was in attendance for the Smithwick.

“I’ve never been that wide on that final turn, but for a little horse he’s got a big stride, and you don’t want to check him up behind those horses,” said Hodsdon. “He was traveling well and I thought I just better keep his run going. He was just brilliant. There was quite a bit of speed, and he just drafted behind them, and it set up perfectly for him.”