SARATOGA SPRINGS — It seems that no one ever questions the quality at Saratoga Race Course, but if the recent trend continues, the quantity might be up for debate.
Due to a combination of scratches from races being taken off the turf and late scratches due to injuries, three of the last four races of Sunday’s card had four entrants, and the last one had five.
When Stage Left was a late scratch for the Grade II Saratoga Special, it knocked the purse down to $180,000 and also changed the tactics for Call Paul.
But the change was for the better, as the 2-year-old colt went to the lead early on and held off Tight Ten for a one-length win as the 4-5 favorite.
“We have to be a little closer than what we want, but he got a perfect trip,” winning jockey Irad Ortiz said.
Call Paul, a Pennsylvania-bred, is now 2 for 2.
“He’s got a great mind. This horse acts like he’ll run far,” Servis said of Call Paul.
There was some bumping between the top two horses between the three-sixteenths pole and one-eighth pole, but there was no objection and the stewards saw no reason to inquire further.
“There wasn’t too much bumping,” Ortiz said. “I don’t think it affected him. When I asked him, he took off.”
Servis only shipped Call Paul to Saratoga from Monmouth on Saturday, but said he thinks he’ll leave the colt here to train up to the Grade I Champagne (at a mile) on Oct. 6 at Belmont Park.
Waited for this?
With the overnight rain into Sunday, the New York Racing Association made the decision to move all turf races to the dirt, including the Grade III, $200,000 Waya Stakes for fillies and mares — which was already being run eight days after its originally scheduled date because officials were concerned the already-wet turf courses couldn’t take two turf stakes races that day.
The switch hit meet-leading trainer Chad Brown especially hard. He scratched both his horses, 8-5 morning-line favorite Santa Monica and Homeland Security. Santa Monica was coming off a half-length win in the Grade II Dance Smartly on June 30 at Woodbine.
British-bred Queen of Connaught, who was to make her first North American start, and Summersault also scratched, leaving a field of four for the race, which was downgraded to nograded status due to switching surfaces, pending a review by the North American Graded Stakes Committee.
Once run Sunday, shipper Tricky Escape went to the lead and stayed there in winning the 1 ¼-mile race by 3 ¾ lengths over Mom’s On Strike.
The Thomas J. Gallo Sales Agency sold the second-highest priced horse at the first night of the Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred Preferred Yearling Sale on Saturday at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion.
Gallo, of Cambridge, sold the top-selling colt of the evening for $400,000 to well-known owner Tracy Farmer. The bay colt is by Ghostzapper out of New York-bred stakes winner Clear Pasj. He was foaled on March 20. Farmer will send the colt to trainer Mark Casse.
It was the highest price for which Gallo has ever sold a yearling. The top seller Saturday was an American Pharoah filly out of the unplaced Visions of Annette that sold for $450,000.
Follow Will Springstead’s racing news on Twitter @ps_togatrack.