Pletcher's Love and Pride upsets field in Personal Ensign at Saratoga

Willy Beamin. left, with Alan Garcia aboard, wins Willy Beamin. left, with Alan Garcia aboard, wins the King's Bishop Stakes horse race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (Aug. 25, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Royal Delta, the 3-4 favorite, was sweaty in the post parade. It's Tricky, the 2-1 second choice, stumbled leaving the gate and her nose hit the dirt. Advantage, long shot Love and Pride.

Love and Pride capitalized under John Velazquez for a half-length victory over Royal Delta Sunday in the Grade I, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational at Saratoga. Despite the horrific start, Eddie Castro got It's Tricky back into the race and she finished third, a length farther back.

When asked what happened to Royal Delta, trainer Bill Mott said: "I don't know. She didn't have a bad trip."

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Castro "was lucky to stay on, and she ran her heart out."

Love and Pride stalked Brushed by a Star through 6 furlongs in a moderate 1:11.38 before taking the lead in upper stretch and spurting away. Royal Delta kept grinding away under Mike Smith in deep stretch but never looked as if she would catch the winner.

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Todd Pletcher trains Love and Pride, who paid $22 after running 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.22 for her sixth win in 15 starts. "That felt great,'' he said. "She's a filly who's tough to ride, but she hinted she had one of these in her.''

Canoe-dling

The Golden Ticket-Alpha dead heat in Saturday's Travers means that for the first time two canoes will float in Saratoga's infield lake. Alpha's will be painted in Godolphin Racing's royal blue and white. The green, blue and orange silks of Magic City Thoroughbred Partners will adorn Golden Ticket's.

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There was no canoe there when Sunday's card began, because at 11:50 a.m., a small tractor hauled off the one painted in the blue and orange of Mets fan Mike Repole. The Nassau County resident is keeping it to commemorate Stay Thirsty's 2011 victory.

"I'll probably never win another Travers, and it's a great souvenir,'' Repole said by telephone. "Some of my friends were joking they were going to sneak into the track at night and steal it.''

Repole said he asked the New York Racing Association if he could buy the canoe. NYRA suggested that he make two donations in its name to a backstretch fund and a horse rescue facility.

"It's win-win. I get to keep the canoe, help two good causes and make sure my friends don't go to jail,'' Repole said. "It will be in my pool for a party in September, and then maybe my grandmother will put tomato plants in it.''

There were two small jockey statues in the paddock decorated with Magic City's and Godolphin's colors. In an email, NYRA spokesman Dan Silver said, "By Wednesday, we will have the two new canoes out there in the pond.''

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Around the track

With seven days left, Pletcher is cruising to his third consecutive Saratoga training title and ninth overall. He leads Chad Brown by eight wins 30-22 . . . Repole, also seeking a Spa three-peat, leads Klaravich Stables 11-9 . . . Jockey Ramon Dominguez has clinched his first Angel Cordero trophy since 2009 because he has a 55-39 edge on Javier Castellano.

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