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Classic Lady fends off late charge to win Dayatthespa by a neck

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Joel Rosario continued to forge the summer meet’s most fruitful partnership, with the duo teaming for a third stakes victory when Classic Lady took the lead in the stretch and outlasted War Canoe by a neck in the first running of the $85,000 Dayatthespa for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up on Wednesday at Saratoga Race Course. 

Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables’ Classic Lady entered off a runner-up effort in the Mount Vernon on July 2 at Belmont Park in both her stakes debut and her first start since Clement took over the training duties. The 5-year-old daughter of Jimmy Creed was forwardly placed by Rosario in the Dayatthespa, who sat in second position as Vortex Road led the six-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 25.90 seconds, the half in 51.59 and three-quarters in 1:15.33 on the firm inner turf.

Around the far turn, Rosario set down Classic Lady, who overtook the pacesetter from the outside at the top of the stretch. Under Irad Ortiz, Jr., War Canoe made a furious late push from even further outside, but Classic Lady outkicked the Chad Brown trainee, completing 1 1/16 miles in a 1:44.36 final time.

“It was a perfect trip,” Rosario said. “I was just following the horse on the lead and I just wanted to take my time. She looked like she was there for me nicely, and I just waited for the right time to start going forward. She was very comfortable and happy where she was, and I was just following the horse on the lead waiting for the time when she was ready to go on.”

The even-money favorite returned $4.10 on a $2 win bet. Classic Lady finished first or second for the eighth consecutive race, improving her career earnings to $252,290.

“It’s great. She’s a stakes winner,” Clement said. “She’s run twice for us and run well twice. It’s exciting. We’ve got more races coming up. The big question is going to be whether she wants to go a mile and an eighth or not, but we don’t have to decide that now.”

Clement and Rosario have won eight races together this meet in 19 starts for a winning percentage of 42, including graded scores with Speaktomeofsummer in the Grade 2 Lake Placid and Decorated Invader in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame last weekend.

“She’s got a pretty high cruising speed, so we have to be careful with the pace of the race,” Clement said. “I was pretty confident because Joel did not use our filly until the stretch, while the other filly moved into the turn. I just thought it was going to be a long stretch for the other filly, and Joel proved me right. She’s sound, she’s all good, she tries very hard, she’s very game. Let’s keep going and try to win some more. We just wake up in the morning and it’s business as usual.”

War Canoe, also owned by Dubb and Bethlehem Stables in addition to Madaket Stables, was third in the Mount Vernon and finished 1¾-lengths ahead of the Clement-conditioned Wegetsdaymunnys for second.

Wegetsdamunnys posted her best stakes finish since running third in the John Hetttinger last September, besting Vortex Road by a head for third.

Niko’s Dream and Wish Upon completed the order of finish. Love and Love, entered for the main-track only, was scratched.

Live racing resumes today at Saratoga with a 10-race card that includes the $85,000 John Morrisey for state-bred 3-year-olds and up going seven furlongs on the main track in Race 9 at 5:46 p.m. First post is 1:10 p.m.

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