SARATOGA SPRINGS — Starlight Racing’s Sombeyay closed with a flourish to win the 104th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford for juveniles by a neck on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The bay colt by Into Mischief benefitted by a patient and confident ride by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, while Bano Solo and Strike Silver, both winners in their only starts, battled strong on the front end amid fractions of 22.26 seconds for the opening quarter and the half-mile in 45.49. After the speedy duo clocked 57.64 at the five-eighths mark, Castellano received all he needed for the stretch run, completing six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.35.
“It was perfect. He broke good out of the gate and put me in the right position,” Castellano said. “Today, I didn’t want to be too far back. It worked out the way we wanted today. He’s a good come-from-behind horse. It was very satisfying.”
The Todd Pletcher-trained Sombeyay notched his second win in three career starts, building on a 6 ¼-length win in his debut on April 27 at Gulfstream Park before his runner-up effort in his stakes debut when he recovered to miss by three-quarters of a length to Our Braintrust in the Tremont on June 8 at Belmont Park.
“I thought he ran really well,” Pletcher said. “Showed a little more speed than I thought he would. Javier had to take a bit of a hold of him at one point, but when he took him out he finished up nicely. I think in these early 2-year-old races experience is huge. Having two starts compared to others with only one I think that helped today. I think it hurt him a little the last time when he stumbled, you could argue that it helped him today. “
Off as the 5-2 favorite, Sombeyay paid $7.70 to win. He improved his career bankroll to $136,500.
Sombeyay’s impressive closing kick was enough to convince Pletcher to aim higher with his Kentucky-bred in his next start, naming the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on September 3 as a possible start.
“I think the Hopeful would be the next step with three starts under his belt,” said Pletcher after winning his record seventh Sanford. “If he’s tearing the barn down, we’ll see.”
John Oxley’s Strike Silver held enough speed to hold second while it was another 3 ¼ lengths behind to Whiskey Echo for third. Bano Solo faded to fourth.
Knicks Go, Lexitonian and Chase Greatness completed the order of finish.