07/22/2016 5:12PM

Sweet Loretta salvages day for Pletcher by winning Schuylerville

Barbara D. Livingston
Sweet Loretta wins the Schuylerville Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 4 1/4 lengths under John Velazquez.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Opening day at Saratoga didn’t get off to a good start for trainer Todd Pletcher. But it certainly ended well.

Sweet Loretta, away slowly, took advantage of a hot pace and a good ride by John Velazquez to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths on a hot opening afternoon at Saratoga. Fun, a 22-1 shot, rallied from seventh to get second by 1 1/2 lengths over Harlands Thunder.

Made Me Shiver, the 8-5 favorite, stumbled at the start and finished fourth. She was followed, in order, by Olive Branch, Summer Sally, Lighting Dove, and Inspired Flight. Platinum Spark scratched.

It was the sixth victory in the Schuylerville for Pletcher, equaling the number of wins in this race recorded by Pletcher’s mentor, D. Wayne Lukas.

For Pletcher, the Schuylerville helped ease a rough day. Stradivari, one of Pletcher’s better 3-year-old males, sustained a career-ending injury, fracturing a leg at the end of a morning workout. As of Friday, veterinarians were optimistic Stradivari could be saved for potential stallion duty.

Pletcher, a 12-time leading trainer here, went winless in his four races with five horses. He had a second, two thirds, a fourth, and a fifth.

“It’s nice to have a win in the Schuylerville,” Pletcher said. “This morning we lost what we projected was going to be one of our Travers starters. Hopefully, he’s going to be okay. It’s the nature of the business; there’s good and bad and you got to try and stay level and keep working at it.”

Sweet Loretta, a daughter of Tapit, had galloped home a seven-length winner in a maiden race at Monmouth Park.

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Friday, she was taking on some other smart-looking maiden winners, including Made Me Shiver.

Sweet Loretta, under John Velazquez, broke slowly and was sixth early. But the pace was swift as Inspired Flight, gunned to the front by Edgar Prado, set fractions of 21.68 seconds for the quarter-mile and 44.79 for the half, chased by Made Me Shiver, who bobbled at the break, and Olive Branch.

Velazquez guided Sweet Loretta to the inside down the backstretch and tipped her into the clear on the turn. After Made Me Shiver took the lead in upper stretch, Sweet Loretta cruised by her inside the eighth pole and widened her advantage through the lane.

Sweet Loretta, a $750,000 yearling purchase by Vinnie Viola’s St. Elias Stable, covered the six furlongs in 1:10.89 and returned $10.80 as the third choice.

Velazquez said when his filly broke slow he made it a point to save ground until the middle of the turn.

“At the three-eighths pole I started easing out and she got to the clear and at the quarter pole she responded right away,” Velazquez said. “They went fast enough, the track is not speed favoring so it worked out very good.”