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Yaupon stays undefeated with gate-to-wire Amsterdam victory

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Yaupon answered another challenge thrown his way, improving to 3-for-3 in his career by wiring a six-horse field by two lengths in his stakes debut in the 28th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam for sophomores on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Yaupon was unraced as a juvenile but won his debut by a nose going six furlongs on June 20 at Churchill Downs. The Uncle Mo colt proved he could ship well in his last start, a 3 3/4-length allowance win at Saratoga on July 18, before handling the step up in class on Saturday.

Breaking well from post 2 under jockey Joel Rosario, Yaupon was sent to the front, where he registered the opening quarter-mile in 21.93 seconds and the half in 44.68 over a muddy and sealed main track after earlier rainfall.

Out of the turn, Rosario kept Yaupon focused for the stretch run, repelling any potential challenge from runner-up Basin, completing six furlongs in 1:08.50.

“He’s extremely fast. He’s got an elite amount of speed,” Asmussen said. “It’s very important that a horse with his physical [gifts], and as fast as he is, is a graded stakes winner here at Saratoga. I think we can sit down and map out a serious future for him from here.”

Owned by L. William and Corinne Heiligbrodt, Yaupon rewarded his 7-5 favoritism, returning $4.80 on a $2 win wager.

“He broke out of there well. I was trying to get a forward position and he put himself on the lead,” said Rosario, who notched his third win on the card. “He went on well. He’s a very talented horse. He had no problem [with the surface].”

Yaupon, purchased for $255,000 at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sale, won on an off track for the first time. He nearly doubled his career earnings to $168,264.

“He had very minor issues, but it was just the physics of it when you’re capable of going that fast,” Asmussen said. “We wanted to give him all the maturity we could. We were trying to follow a similar plan with him as we were with Mitole for the Heiligbrodts. They had expected to run him over the winter at the Fair Grounds, but he had another minor issue, so we erred on the side of caution as far as waiting and letting him get to 100 percent.”

Basin, making his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher, finished two lengths in front of Premier Star for second in his first start at Saratoga since winning last year’s Grade 1 Hopeful.

“The winner was very good,” Pletcher said. “We were hoping for a bit of a speed duel, but it never really developed. We were pleased with the effort though.”

Wondrwherecraigis, Long Weekend and Liam’s Pride completed the order of finish.

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