Advertised as a showdown between odds-on favorite Gulfport and Damon’s Mound, Saturday’s $186,000 Saratoga Special (G2) was captured in convincing fashion by Damon’s Mound, who rolled to a 3 1/4-length win under Gabe Saez.
Damon’s Mound’s trip in the Special resembled his July 2 debut at Churchill Downs, in which he romped to a 12 1/2 length win. Away from the gate a touch slow, Damon’s Mound settled at the back of the four-horse field, glided into contention with a three-wide bid on the far turn, and met little resistance when making the front in upper stretch.
“All props to the horse. He’s just awesome and he proved it and spoke for himself,” trainer Michelle Lovell said. “It’s a Grade 2, so it’s my biggest accomplishment with a horse with so much potential.”
Gulfport, who had won his first two starts by a combined margin of more than 19 lengths, including the Bashford Manor S. at Churchill, was checked on the turn when in tight quarters between Damon’s Mound and pacesetter Super Chow, though there was no official inquiry or objection made after the race.
“It looked like we had no room in there,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “The horse on the inside (Super Chow) and I couldn’t really tell if the outside (Damon’s Mound) both came out at the same time and I had to check my horse.”
Damon’s Mound finished 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast track in 1:17.94 and returned $5.70. A Florida-bred, he races for breeder Cliff Love and Michele Love. Gulfport finished second by seven lengths over Super Chow, who set a pace of :21.94 and :45.06. Valenzan Day trailed.
“We have a couple spots,” Lovell said. “Obviously, there’s the Hopeful (G1), the Iroquois (G3), the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). Those three races are on the calendar. We’ll see. We’ll cool him out and see what we’ve got. He’s been a super sound and mature animal and I just look forward to his future.”
From the first crop by Haskell (G1) winner Girvin, the Florida-bred Damon’s Mound was produced by the multiple stakes-placed San Antonio Stroll, by Stroll. He has now earned $145,560.