09/02/2017 6:50PM

Voodoo Song takes Saranac Stakes for fourth win at Spa meet

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Barbara D. Livingston
Voodoo Song posted his fourth win of the 2017 Saratoga meet when he captured Saturday's Grade 3 Saranac Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Taking advantage of a course he loves and one favoring his front-running style, Voodoo Song held off Yoshida by a neck to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac Stakes for his fourth win at this meet.

It is believed that Native Dancer, as a 2-year-old in 1952, was the last horse to win four times at a Saratoga meet. It was 24 days then, 40 this year.

 Linda Rice, who trains Voodoo Song, has had two horses win three times at a meet: City Zip in 2000 and New York’s Finest this year.

“This was really something,” said Rice, who trains Voodoo Song for Barry Schwartz. “I really wanted to go in the a-other-than that ran earlier on the card because I thought that was a logical spot. I could see we were going to be five or six deep on the [also-eligible] list I said ‘Oh hell, put him in the Saranac.’ Barry was great, he said ‘Linda, do whatever you want to do.’ “

Dry conditions have created a firm turf course that has been favoring front-runners on the turf for several days. Voodoo Song began the meet with a front-running score in a $40,000 claiming race on July 22 then won New York-bred allowance races on July 26 and Aug. 23. This was his graded stakes debut.

Jose Lezcano, aboard for all three of those wins, once again sent Voodoo Song to a clear advantage. Posted fractions were incorrect so it was unclear just how quick Voodoo Song was running. Around the turn, Bricks and Mortar made a run at Voodoo Song, who repelled that challenge.

Voodoo Song opened up again in midstretch and was able to hold off a wide-rallying Yoshida to win by a neck. The final time of the Saranac will go down as a hand-timed 1:46.18 for 1 1/8 miles after it was initially posted as 1:44.41, which would have shattered the previous course record of 1:45.22.

“He was pretty far in front, I got a little concerned because I couldn’t tell if he was going too fast or not because the clock was wrong,” Rice said. “And then Jose put him to sleep on the turn and they were a making fast move towards him I thought ‘Oh, geez, I hope he’s not empty and then he spurted off and what a thrill.”

Voodoo Song, a New York-bred son of English Channel, returned $14.40 as the fifth choice in the race.

Rice said Voodoo Song’s affinity for the Saratoga course, over which races are run around two turns, is why she elected to run him so often.

“Obviously, it hasn’t rained much, he likes the firm going, that could change very quickly in the next 30 days or six weeks so I thought let’s take advantage of it,” Rice said. “We can rest him later.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., the rider of Yoshida, said he encountered some traffic around the turn, which delayed his move.

“I had to wait a little longer than I wanted but he ran a good race,” Ortiz said.

Yoshida finished second by a half-length over Bricks and Mortar, who was followed by Rocketry, Mr Havercamp, Makarios, Caviar Czar and Master Plan.