Caravel Passes Robin Sparkles In Stretch To Win Caress At Saratoga

In her last start with breeder and co-owner Elizabeth Merryman as trainer, Caravel bided her time behind front-running Robin Sparkles, went to the outside around the final turn, and then sprinted down the center of the Saratoga turf course to win the Grade 3 Caress Stakes. The win brings Pennsylvania’s reigning Horse of the Year to three victories in four starts in 2021.

Under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., Caravel broke well, settling in behind Robin Sparkles and Jakarta, who was running for only purse money after an inadvertent scratch Saturday morning, as the field ran down the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Robin Sparkles, with Jose Ortiz in the saddle, held a length and a half lead going in the final turn, as Irad took Caravel to the outside for her stretch run.

With Jakarta in second on the rail, Robin Sparkles maintained her front runner status through the first part of the stretch, with Caravel sprinting down the stretch to her outside. The gray filly passed Robin Sparkles mid-stretch to take over the lead and draw away to win by two and a half lengths. Robin Sparkles held on for third behind a surging In Good Spirits, who was second. The final time for the 5 1/2 furlongs was 1:02.38.

Tass, Flower Point, and Jakarta rounded out the field. Caravel paid $4.00, $2.70, and $2.10. In Good Spirits paid $5.70 and $2.80. Robin Sparkles paid $2.10.

Find this race’s chart here.

The Mizzen Mast filly went into the G3 turf sprint off of victories in the Goldwood at Monmouth Park and the Very One at Pimlico Race Course, performances that led Bobby Flay to purchase a majority interest in Caravel from Merryman. From here, Caravel will join the barn of trainer Graham Motion.

“Bobby Flay now owns a majority interest in her and we made a plan when he was interested in buying to make that change,” Merryman, who got her first graded stakes victory as a trainer with Caravel’s win, said after the Caress. “That was something I was in agreement with from the time of the sale of the majority of her. Graham is in the next barn to me at Fair Hill [in Maryland]. It’ll all be good.”

“Hopefully, the goal is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and Graham has so much experience going that route. It seemed like a really smart thing to do from my perspective as well. Not that I don’t think I could handle it, but with the change in the ownership, Graham has a system that works great and he’s been through all that. It’ll be a good way to go. I’ll still own part of her.”

“The whole turn, she was on the bridle waiting for the time to go.” Irad Ortiz, Jr. told the NYRA Press Office after the race. “I wanted to make sure to go around the horses like she did last time at Monmouth [winning the Goldwood on June 25]. I was able to get in the clear and as soon as I asked, she gave me a really good kick – a good turn-of-foot.”

Bred in Pennsylvania, Caravel is a 4-year-old gray filly by Mizzen Mast out of Congrats mare Zeezee Zoomzoom. With this victory in the G3 Caress, Caravel has seven wins in nine lifetime starts, for career earnings of $367,872.

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