08/31/2003 11:00PM

Velazquez's Saranac win a perfect ending


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It was a fitting conclusion to an unprecedented meeting for jockey John Velazquez, as he guided Shoal Water to a 2 1/4-length victory over Urban King in the Grade 3, $108,800 Saranac Handicap on a soggy closing day at Saratoga.

It was one of two victories on the card for Velazquez, who finished the meet with 61 winners from 235 mounts. The 61 victories eclipsed Jerry Bailey's mark of 55 set in 2001

"I'm really glad for all the things that happened here and I don't want to go, but I'm tired and I do want to go home now and rest in my own bed,'' said Velazquez, who won six stakes at the meet. "It's been awesome. I couldn't ask for anything better really. I've been very blessed.''

The Canadian-based trainer Mark Frostad, who won last year's Go for Wand Handicap with Dancethruthedawn, waited until the final day of this year's meet to ship a horse to Saratoga. Shoal Water chased Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando in all three legs of the Triple Crown, finishing second to him in the $500,000 Breeders' last month at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Frostad said that cutting Shoal Water back in distance from 1 1/2 miles to 1 3/16 miles was the key.

Sharp Impact, under Eibar Coa, made the early lead and set fractions of 23.45 seconds, 48.17, 1:12.85, and 1:36.93 while being tracked by Shoal Water. Shoal Water ran down Sharp Impact inside the sixteenth pole and drew off. Urban King got up in the final jump to get second by a head over Sharp Impact.

Shoal Water ($4.30) ran the 1 3/16 miles over good turf in 1:55.43.

"He was pretty strong; I had to battle with him for a quarter mile,'' Velazquez said. "As soon as we got to the backside he gave me a little break and from then on I was cruising. When I asked him he was there.''

Frostad said Shoal Water would return to New York on Sept. 21 for the Grade 2, $200,000 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park.

- The final day featured a pick-six carryover of $390,590, and with the money wagered on Monday there was $1,332,151 in the winner's pool. There were two winning tickets that returned $660,075 each. The winning combination of 3-2-1-9-5-10 included Erin's Storm ($15.60), Charismatic Rob ($33.40), Sircharlesschnabel ($9.70), Roaring Fever ($28.60), Shoal Water ($4.30), and True Patriot ($10.20).