01/14/2012 8:21PM

Turf Paradise: Saratoga Boot's nose hits wire first in three-horse Cotton Fitzsimmons photo

Shawn Coady/Coady Photography
Saratoga Boot (right) outfinishes runner-up Leroy's Dynameaux (middle) and Fast Track to win the Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap.

Saratoga Boot, who was stepping up in class and had not finished in the exacta in four grass tries, picked the right day for his best race in some time as he posted a 14-1 upset in Saturday’s $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap at Turf Paradise.

Owned by Gary Hughes and making his second start for trainer Mike Chambers, the 5-year-old Saratoga Boot appears to be a new horse. He won the Emerald Derby at Emerald Downs in August 2010 but didn’t win in his next 10 starts, and that included his four non-threatening grass races at Golden Gate Fields. In all four he finished behind either Life Is a Rock or Mr. Candy Bar, two of his rivals Saturday.

But that’s apparently old news. He won a mile main-track race locally on Dec. 10, his first start for Chambers. In the Fitzsimmons, he bided his time in sixth under Anne Von Rosen, steadily advanced into the lane, moved up with a strong wide run to engage for the lead with fellow strong closer Leroy’s Dynameaux, and won hard-fought nose decision in a three-way photo.

Leroy’s Dynameaux, the 7-5 favorite coming off a series of races against top-shelf competition in Southern California, was last early, rallied strongly to the lead in midstretch but couldn’t quite outduel the game winner, finishing second a neck in front of fast-closing Fast Track, who was third in the field of 10. Defending champion All Saint stalked the pace and finished fourth.

Saratoga Boot ran the distance in a brisk 1:34.87 and paid $31.60. The winner’s share of $45,000 gives him career earnings of $147,182 from 4 wins in 20 starts.