The Grade I Test Stakes usually is the summer's best 3-year-old filly sprint, and Saturday's deep, contentious 89th running fit the profile. Favored Sweet Reason ($6.20) rallied to defeat 15-1 shot Miss Behavior by a length, giving jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. his fourth winner on the Whitney day card.
Leah Gyarmati trains Sweet Reason, who ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.31 in her first race since taking the Grade I Acorn at a mile on Belmont Stakes day. It completed a Grade I daily double for female trainers after Linda Rice won the $350,000 Alfred Vanderbilt Handicap about half an hour earlier.
"This seemed like the perfect spot for her," Gyarmati said. "She loves Saratoga [3-for-3], she's shown she likes seven-eighths [2-for-2]. It came up a really salty field with some nice fillies, so this was probably her biggest test yet."
No pun intended.
In the Vanderbilt, pacesetter Happy My Way and Joe Bravo led by two lengths at the eighth pole before Palace ($6.20) surged for Cornelio Velasquez to beat him by a length. The New York-bred ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.56, .56 of a second off Spanish Riddle's 42-year-old track record, quite an achievement for a former $20,000 claimer.
"I was somewhat concerned," Rice said, "but this has horse has got the heart of a lion. He's such a competitor. He really has a strong finish, and when he was in reach of [Happy My Way], I thought he would get to him."
In the other undercard stakes: Filimbi ($6.70) rallied for Joel Rosario to give Dayatthespa her first bad day at the Spa in the De La Rose at a mile on turf. Dayatthespa was 3-for-3 on Saratoga's grass . . . Favored Big Blue Kitten ($5.40) and Bravo came from last in a field of 10 to win the $100,000 Lure by three-quarters of a length on the turf.
Cordero comes up short. A 2-year-old colt named for the former King of Saratoga, Angel Cordero Jr., made his United States debut in a 1 1/16-mile turf race after finishing sixth in a Royal Ascot stakes. The Irish-bred Cordero's pedigree is regal -- by Giant's Causeway out of a Deputy Minister mare -- befitting the Hall of Famer.
Cordero, 71, rode 649 Spa winners, third behind John Velazquez and Jerry Bailey. The horse didn't do his namesake proud, fading to fifth after setting the pace.
Around the track
Trainer Todd Pletcher has 12 winners, five more than Graham Motion and Chad Brown . . . Defending champion jockey Javier Castellano leads John Velazquez 18-16, with brothers Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Ortiz tied for third with 13 . . . Owners Mike Repole and Ken Ramsey are even with four wins.