Blue Prize back to winning form in Summer Colony
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize backed her heavy favoritism, battling down the stretch with Vexatious to notch her seventh career stakes win in Sunday’s $100,000 Summer Colony at Saratoga Race Course.
Breaking from the outside post in the 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares, Blue Prize broke sharply under jockey Jose Ortiz and trailed the seven-horse field early on as three-time winner Alberobello led into the first turn, recording an opening quarter-mile in a swift 22.96 seconds. Blue Prize began inching her way closer to the front and moved to sixth position as the pacesetter continued to lead through a half-mile in 47.28 seconds on the fast main track.
Around the far turn, as Alberobello began to give way, Vexatious inherited the lead at the top of the stretch. With a five-wide move, Blue Prize made her bid under an all out drive and confronted Vexatious as the two separated themselves from the rest of the field. In the final furlong, Vexatious dug down gamely to the inside but Blue Prize got the bob to win by a neck in a final time of 1:48.58. Alberbello finished 14 1/4 lengths behind in third.
Completing the order of finish were Skeptic, Pacific Wind, Breaking Bread and Tweeting.
“She got bumped a little bit on the first turn and he [Jose Ortiz] had to go four or five-wide instead of take her back,” winning trainer Ignacio Correas, IV said. “Those were his options. For me, it cost her a little more than I expected. She had to put in a big effort for this race. The trip wasn’t the way I expected, but she had the class. Jack’s [Sisterson] filly [Vexatious] ran a big race, too. I’m happy she’s back in the winner’s circle. We’ll keep working and see what we can do to get her to the next level.”
The victory marked a sixth North American stakes win for Blue Prize, who last year won three graded stakes on the Kentucky circuit when she took Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Fleur de Lis and Grade 3 Locust Grove. She subsequently gave trainer Correas his first Grade 1 triumph when she took the Juddmonte Spinster last October at Keeneland. Correas said that she will point toward a repeat victory in the Spinster as her likely next target.
“Definitely. That’s home for her. We look forward to that,” Correas said of Blue Prize, who was a Group 1 winner in Argentina.
Blue Prize gave two-time Saratoga leading rider Jose Ortiz his fourth stakes victory of the meet.
“It was perfect. They went very fast early,” Ortiz said. “She is usually not that far back, but I put my horse where she was comfortable. Little by little along the backside, [Vexatious] worked a great trip. In the stretch, I thought I was just going to go by her, but she was game. I’m proud of my horse today. She gave a good effort.”
The ultra-consistent Blue Prize returned $3.20 as the 3-5 mutuel favorite. Her lifetime record now stands at 21-8-8-3 as she cashed a check for $55,000 to bring her lifetime earnings to $1,292,253.
Bred in Argentina by S.A. Bioart, Blue Prize is out of the Not For Sale broodmare Blues For Sale.
The Summer Colony pays homage to the late Edward P. Evans’ six-time graded stakes winner who won three times at Saratoga, including in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign in 2002. She retired with $1,448,930 and was trained by Mark Hennig.