07/21/2013 4:43PM

Saratoga: Strong Impact saves ground to win Fiddlers Patriot

Barbara D. Livingston
Strong Impact (right), under Alex Solis, won the Fiddlers Afleet Stakes by three-quarters of a length Sunday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Bruce Brown thought he had an up-and-coming turf-sprint stakes horse in the 4-year-old Spring to the Sky. But in Sunday’s $100,000 Fiddlers Patriot Stakes at Saratoga, it was the hard-knocking 7-year-old Strong Impact who got the job done for Brown.

Getting a ground-saving trip from Alex Solis, Strong Impact rallied powerfully in the stretch and ran down the pacesetting Tightend Touchdown to win by three-quarters of a length. Tightend Touchdown held second by a half-length over Varsity.

Meanwhile, Spring to the Sky, who was bearing out down the backside and blew the far turn, was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Jose Lezcano and vanned off.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Brown said afterward. “[Strong Impact] really ran a great race, and he’s come around this year better than ever … but I’m anxious to get back and see how the other horse is.”

Brown and owner Thomas La Marca claimed Strong Impact for $35,000 here Aug. 24, 2011. Since then, Strong Impact has six wins from 13 starts and has earned $292,915.

“This is a good win for Mr. La Marca; this is the second one we’ve won a stakes with,” said Brown, who also claimed Compliance Officer for La Marca, for whom that horse won several stakes. “It’s gratifying.”

Strong Impact broke alertly and settled into seventh position while Tightend Touchdown, under Irad Ortiz Jr., set fractions of 21.56 seconds for the quarter and 43.55 for the half-mile.

Solis kept Strong Impact along the inside turning for home, and he was able to collar Tightend Touchdown inside the sixteenth pole.

Strong Impact, a son of A.P. Jet, covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.17 – just 0.58 seconds off the course record set by Fiddlers Patriot – and returned $24.40.

“I waited to the quarter pole, and I thought my best chance was to just save all the ground and save horse for the end, and it worked out good,” Solis said. “My horse was coming, and it looked like that other horse was getting a little tired. That last eighth, I thought I had a good chance.”