Overlooked at 13-1 in his belated seasonal debut, Mr Havercamp relished the yielding conditions at Saratoga Friday to upset the $150,000 Forbidden Apple (G3). The Canadian shipper worked out a favorable stalking trip courtesy of Junior Alvarado, took over in the stretch, and held the closing Hembree and Qurbaan in his first U.S. graded coup.
Mr Havercamp had graded form at his Woodbine base. The winner of last year’s Play the King (G2) on turf and Autumn (G2) on Tapeta, the Catherine Day Phillips veteran also finished second in the Woodbine Mile (G1). His forays south of the border had not been as productive, with a fifth in the 2017 Saranac (G3) in his stakes debut, a fourth in last summer’s Forbidden Apple (then a listed race at Belmont), and a below-form last of 13 in the December 15 Ft. Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Defending Forbidden Apple champion Voodoo Song didn’t figure to mind the venue switch, considering that he entered with a five-for-six mark at the Spa including scores in that same Saranac and the 2018 Fourstardave (G1). But there was a complicating factor in the speedy Gidu, who thwarted Voodoo Song’s preferred front-running style.
Gidu seized control from his rail post and beat Voodoo Song to the lead through an opening quarter in :24.15 on the yielding inner turf. As Voodoo Song conceded and sat in second, Mr Havercamp was perched in third. Gidu didn’t appear to be totally relaxed through a moderate half in :48.04. Although still in command turning for home through six furlongs in 1:12.56, he weakened down the lane. Voodoo Song had already faded.
Mr Havercamp, well placed to take advantage, rolled to the front. The 12-1 Hembree, who had been well back in seventh early, rallied boldly on the outside. Qurbaan, the 2-1 favorite, likewise struck top gear in deep stretch.
But once Mr Havercamp had gotten the jump, he would not relinquish it. The Ontario-bred retained a half-length advantage in a final time of 1:37.50 and paid $29.60 to win. Hembree, who headed Qurbaan for second, was receiving six pounds from Mr Havercamp (the 124-pound co-highweight) and four from Qurbaan.
Made You Look, sidelined for 11 months since his fourth in last summer’s Fourstardave, returned with another useful fourth that he can build upon from here. March to the Arch closed smartly in traffic to grab fifth, followed by Doctor Mounty, Offering Plan, Voodoo Song, Gidu, and First Premio.
Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s homebred Mr Havercamp improved his record to 13-8-1-0, $673,886. The gelded son of Court Vision began his career at three, winning his first two at Woodbine, and after his Saranac reverse, capturing the restricted Vice Regent and Bunty Lawless. His first Woodbine loss came in the 2017 Sir Barton, when second across the wire but demoted to seventh for interference. The dark bay scored first off the layoff in last summer’s Steady Growth, his springboard to open company.
Day Phillips indicated that Mr Havercamp’s goal is the September 14 Woodbine Mile, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Interestingly, she further noted that he reminds her of past stable star Jambalaya, the 2007 Arlington Million (G1) winner.
Mr Havercamp was produced by the Medaglia d’Oro mare Tennessee Lamb, herself a half to Grade 3-placed Mendocino Beano, dam of three stakes performers including recent Queen’s Plate third Tone Broke.
Quotes from NYRA
Winning rider Junior Alvarado: “I knew that there were two horses with speed, and I was sitting right where I wanted to be. By the half-mile pole, I was pretty excited with where I was and where he was traveling. I knew that I had a lot of horse under me, so I was pretty confident. As soon as we turned for home, he gave me a nice kick and was just all out right there trying hard.”
Winning trainer Catherine Day Phillips: “Junior gave him a perfect ride. He got a very good position coming out of the gate. Going into the first turn, I was a little concerned with the mile track on the inside – he’d never been on a tight track like that – but he handled it well for a big horse.”
“We won the Saranac with Jambalaya (in 2005). He was a very special horse to me and this horse has always reminded me of Jambalaya. We brought him (Mr Havercamp) here for the Saranac and he ran well but didn’t quite get the job done, but he got it done today.
“He runs well fresh. This was probably a little steeper of a first race than we really wanted, but the Woodbine Mile is our goal, so we’re backing up and this is what brought us here this weekend. This race was here and Saratoga is Saratoga – it’s great to be here.”
Jockey Luis Saez on runner-up Hembree: “We had the perfect trip. When we hit the straight, I thought I was going to get there but the wire was there first. He gave me a great effort.”