Saez Guides Say The Word To Elkhorn Stakes Victory

Say the Word, a Grade 1 winner of the Northern Dancer Stakes for trainer Gail Cox at Woodbine last year, picked up his first victory since being transferred to California-based Phil D’Amato in Saturday’s Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland racecourse in Lexington, Ky.

Ridden by Luis Saez, the 6-year-old son of More Than Ready defeated another 6-year-old turf veteran, Channel Cat, by 1 1/2 lengths while covering 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.26 on a course labeled “good.” Crafty Daddy finished a neck back in third, with Fantasioso fourth in the field of eight older horses.

Say the Word, who on Thursday was named champion turf male in Canada’s Sovereign Awards, paid $7.20 as second wagering choice behind 2-1 favorite Tide of the Sea.

Say the Word raced in mid-pack in the early going as Tide of the Sea set the pace. He made a wide move running down the backstretch, reaching contention at the quarter pole, then drawing off late for the victory.

Bred by Sam-Son Farm, Say the Word joined D’Amato’s stable after Mark Martinez bought into the horse from Sam-Son late last year in the name of his Agave Racing Stable. He ran three times for D’Amato prior to the Elkhorn, finishing third in the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar, 11th in the G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park and second to United in the G3 San Luis Rey at Santa Anita.

The win was the sixth for Say the Word in 29 career starts. He was produced from the Giant’s Causeway mare Danceforthecause.

Post-race quotes:

Luis Saez (winning rider of Say the Word): “He just found a good spot (on the backstretch), and he picked up the bridle. I didn’t want to let him go too early, so I tried to relax him. When we came into the straight (on the run to the finish), he was pretty good. He took it away, and he won the race.”

Josh Flores (assistant to winning trainer Phil D’Amato, who is based at Santa Anita in California): “The only instructions I gave to Luis was just get him to settle early. For a second we were a little concerned when he picked up the bridle on his own. Luis did a great job to get him to settle. Down the lane, the horse really dug in and put up a good fight.”

Corey Lanerie (rider of runner-up Channel Cat): “We were forwardly placed right behind the favorite (Tide of the Sea). The eventual winner was right on my hip and I just could not hold him off. My horse ran great. Going a mile and a half, the pace might have been a little quicker than I thought we would be going, but he handled it the whole way.”

Jack Sisterson (trainer of Channel Cat): “He ran a very good race. We were optimistic going in to this race. We backed off since his last race (fifth in Jan. 23 William L. McKnight-G3 at Gulfstream Park). We decided to point to the Elkhorn here at Keeneland – this is home for him. If horses could talk, he was telling us he was going to run a big race. It was good to see him run back to the form he had when he was trained by Todd Pletcher.”

On Channel Cat’s next race: “We might look at something like the Manhattan (G1 at Belmont Park June 5) or the United Nations (G1 at Monmouth Park July 17). I think he is better than a Grade 3 horse.”

The post Saez Guides Say The Word To Elkhorn Stakes Victory appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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