08/19/2010 6:15PM

Straight Story takes West Point

Barbara D. Livingston
Straight Story, with Javier Castellano riding, wins the West Point Handicap by a length.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - After competing in the Grade 1 United Nations in his last start, Straight Story found a return to New York-bred company to his liking, taking over at the three-eighths pole under Javier Castellano and persevering on to a one-length victory in Thursday’s $100,000 West Point Handicap Stakes at Saratoga.

Pocket Cowboys, who raced in third position most of the trip, rallied for second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of a late-running Icabad Crane. It was a neck back to Banrock, who was thwarted in his bid for a third straight West Point victory.

Straight Story, a 4-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway owned by Richard Santulli and trained by Alan Goldberg, improved to 5 for 15 for his career and the $60,000 first-place purse increased his earnings to $556,390. He was coming off a fourth-place finish to Chinchon in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park.

There were a few anxious moments for those who made Straight Story the even-money favorite in the field of 10.
Castellano got off the horse in the gate, as Straight Story was getting a little anxious after being the second horse to load for the 1 1/8-mile West Point. Once the starting gates opened, Straight Story stumbled. But he soon recovered and raced with 31-1 shot Spa City Fever down the stretch the first time for an opening quarter-mile posted in 22.57 seconds.

Entering the clubhouse turn, Castellano was able to get Straight Story off of Spa City Fever through a half-mile in 48.12 seconds. At three-furlong marker, Straight Story struck the front, came into the stretch with a wide advantage and came home a relatively easy winner.

Straight Story covered the 1 1/8 miles over a firm inner turf in 1:48.58 and returned $4.10.

“He was really good the first quarter-mile, he came back to me really quick,”said Castellano, who won three races on the card. “I put on the brakes, he settled and just followed the other horse with his ears back and forth.”