January 17, 2019

Voodoo Song, Yoshida exit Saranac in good order; Harmonize well following close Glens Falls score

Voodoo Song (inside) and jockey Jose Lezcano capture the Saranac Stakes (G3) over Yoshida and rider Irad Ortiz Jr. on Saturday, September 2, 2017 (c) NYRA/Annette Jasko/Adam Coglianese Photography

Trainer Linda Rice reported that Voodoo Song was doing well one day after his neck victory over the rallying Yoshida in Saturday’s Saranac Stakes (G3).

“He came out of the race well and he looked good this morning,” Rice said. “We’re of course still very excited about his big win yesterday.”

Voodoo Song earned his fourth straight win at the current Saratoga meet in the Saranac, matching the great Native Dancer who recorded four scores during the 1952 stand at the Spa, which took place over 24 days.

Voodoo Song began his current streak after being transferred to Rice when former trainer Michael Hushion retired. He romped by 5 1/4 lengths in a claimer on July 22 and returned just four days later to take an allowance by three-quarters of a length. The English Channel sophomore entered the Saranac, only his second try against stakes rivals since a fifth in last year’s Damon Runyon Stakes, off a one-length score over allowance/optional claiming rivals on August 23.

“In his last race, he relaxed a little bit more than yesterday but it was at a longer distance,” Rice said. “He’s learning with experience. I believe English Channel used to run on the front end as well and he takes after his father, that’s for sure.”

Rice didn’t confirm what was next for Voodoo Song, but mentioned the $500,000 Hill Prince Stakes (G3) going nine furlongs over Belmont Park’s turf on October 7 could be a possibility for her charge.

Yoshida, looking for his first stakes win since romping by four lengths in the May 20 James W. Murphy Stakes, just missed in the Saranac but came out of the race well, according to trainer Bill Mott.

“He had to steady a little bit on the turn, causing (jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.) to wait a minute to tip him out. It could’ve cost him a neck,” Mott remarked. “He ran well, he ran hard, but you have to give the winner his credit.”

The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry was making his second start at the Spa following a fifth-placing in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and a nice second in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) in his past pair.

“He’s been second twice and you can make some excuses for him but the fact was he was second and didn’t win,” Mott added. “At the end of the day, you need the perfect trip to win sometimes and he just didn’t get that.”

While Yoshida just missed in his fast-closing finish, stablemate Harmonize managed to get her neck on front on the wire of the Glens Falls Stakes (G3) three races after the Saranac. Grateful attempted to lead all the way home in the 1 3/8-mile contest, but Harmonize ran that rival down to earn her first win of the year.

“(Harmonize) had quite a wide trip without a doubt, but she won in spite of it,” Mott said. “Three-wide on all the turns and she was still good enough to get up and win. It turned out to be a good race. I guess it proved she can win going that far.”

The Scat Daddy four-year-old miss came out of the Glens Falls in good order, according to Mott, who added he was on the fence about whether Harmonize would start next in the $500,000 Flower Bowl Stakes (G1) going 1 1/4 miles on October 8 at Belmont Park or wait for another race this fall.

“We’ll have to take a look at (the Flower Bowl),” he said. “It’s potentially setting up to be a very tough race. I’m not sure, or we might look for something easier.”

War Flag, third as the 5-2 favorite in the Glens Falls after rallying from the back of the field to finish 1 1/2 lengths behind Grateful, also exited the race well.

“I thought she ran fine behind a slow pace and closed OK,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “She’s at Belmont now.”

Nothing has been scheduled yet for War Flag’s next start, McGaughey added.