Updated on 09/17/2011 10:08PM

Suave prevails in Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A handicap division sorely lacking in depth may have picked up a new player on Sunday as Suave turned back several challenges from the three-furlong pole home to win the $250,000 by 2 3/4 lengths.

Royal Assault rallied from well back to be second, two lengths ahead of Tap Day. Evening Attire, a two-time winner of this Grade 2 race, was fourth while Offlee Wild, the 3-5 favorite, finished last.

Plagued by a quarter crack in a hind foot for the first half of the year, Suave is now 2 for 2 as a 4-year-old. After riding him to an allowance win last month, jockey Rene Douglas told trainer Paul McGee that Suave had changed dramatically from his 3-year-old season when he went 2 for 11.

``He said `Paul, this horse has really matured mentally,'' McGee said. ``He used to be a horse that you'd have shuck out of there and ride every step of the way. Rene went on and on how he was into the bridle the whole time at Arlington so that gave us the confidence to try this race today.''

John Velazquez rode Suave on Sunday. After dueling outside of Tap Day through a half-mile in 48.25 seconds, Suave turned back Offlee Wild at the three-eighths pole, and shrugged off a resurgent Tap Day in upper stretch. Though Suave drifted out in the stretch, he easily held off Royal Assault. Suave, owned by the Jay Em Ess Stable, covered the 1 1-4 miles over a fast track in 2:03.38 and returned $8.

Samantha Siegel, of Jay Em Ess, said she would seriously think about pointing Suave to a fall campaign that includes the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Offlee Wild, the Suburban Handicap winner, loomed boldly outside of Suave down the backside. But jockey Edgar Prado said at the three-eighths pole ``he just spit the bit, he didn't want to go nowhere. I was very surprised because he's a fighter and he usually keeps on going.''