Despite veering extremely wide off the turn, Naughty Gal was just too good in Sunday’s $194,000 Adirondack (G3) at Saratoga. The 1.45-1 favorite gave Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas his seventh win in the feature for juvenile fillies.
The well-named daughter of Into Mischief was coming off a 9 1/4-length maiden romp July 4 at Churchill Downs, where she forced a fast pace and opened up. Naughty Gal likewise showed high speed in this stakes debut at the Spa.
Firing an initial quarter in :22.46, Naughty Gal was chased by Apple Picker on the inside and Promise of Hope on the outside. Promise of Hope soon dropped out of the race, however, as jockey Jose Ortiz sensed something amiss with the 2.75-1 second choice and carefully pulled her up.
Naughty Gal got away from Apple Picker by the half in :46.15 and appeared on the verge of turning the Adirondack into a blowout. But as she left the far turn, she failed to corner, and ended up careering out in the middle of the track.
That gave hope to the rallying Janis Joplin, the maiden who was third in the Schuylerville (G3) to Just Cindy and the Lukas-trained Summer Promise. Janis Joplin was outkicking the other filly still in the hunt, Sabra Tuff, and stood to benefit the most if Naughty Gal threw it away.
Naughty Gal wasn’t going to cost herself the win with Luis Saez aboard. Still in isolation out wide, she regained her momentum and crossed the wire with 2 1/2 lengths to spare. Naughty Gal posted six furlongs in 1:12.09 and completed 6 1/2 in 1:18.97.
Saez believed that Naughty Gal was wayward through inexperience.
“Pretty good trip,” the winning rider said. “She broke from there pretty clean and took the lead, controlled the pace. She was a little green. At the three-eighths, her ear was back-and-forth looking at something and got a little lost, but she kept running and going. She gave me another gear and ran good.”
Lukas thought it was a combination of inexperience and rider influence.
“She’s never been on this racetrack,” Lukas said. “It was her first time stepping foot on it. She always would train on the Oklahoma track, so that’s one thing. But I think what happened was he (Saez) didn’t want to be down on the inside or on the rail. He said the rail is not the place to be. Looking at it and thinking about it, I think what happened was he came off the turn and decided to go wide and suddenly figured he was a lot wider than he wanted to be. I think it probably made it worse than it was.”
Janis Joplin salvaged second by a head from Sabra Tuff, who re-engaged after altering course off the fence to the outside. Apple Picker retreated to fourth, another eight lengths back, and Damaso was a tailed-off last.
Janis Joplin’s connections were entertaining an upset for a few strides.
“She ran really well and broke better than last time (in the Schuylerville),” jockey Flavien Prat said. “She got us into the race and we were traveling well. I thought she could win for a little bit, but the other horse (Naughty Gal) was just better. She’s improving.”
Trainer Mark Casse was glad for fellow Hall of Famer Lukas.
“I thought we had a good shot,” Casse said of Janis Joplin, “and then coming down (the stretch), I couldn’t tell whether we were in front or who was in front. We were watching from the wire and when they got up close, I was like, ‘Oh well, second.’ I’m happy for Wayne (Lukas). If we’re not going to win, I want Wayne.”
There was also a happy outcome for Promise of Hope, who was in good shape after getting a van ride back to the Tom Amoss barn.
“When she switched to the left lead around the half-mile,” Ortiz said, “it felt like something wasn’t right behind. So, I decided to take care of her. Tom will get her taken care of and hopefully she’s OK.”
Amoss posted the welcome update on Twitter.
Naughty Gal joins the Lukas honor roll in the Adirondack, highlighted by champion two-year-old filly Folklore (2005) and Sacahuista (1986), the eventual champion in her division at three. Sacahuista was part of a four-year Lukas streak in this race, along with Nervous Baba (1985), Over All (1987), and Pat Copelan (1988). Salty Perfume (1997) was his winner prior to Folklore.
A $350,000 OBS March purchase by Holy Cow Stable, Naughty Gal advanced her record to 3-2-0-0, $148,735. She initially sold for $200,000 weanling at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November and RNA’d for $240,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Bred by Loren Nichols in Florida, the bay is out of the stakes-winning Spanish Steps mare Conway Two Step, from the immediate family of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Miss Temple City.
Plans call for Naughty Gal to stretch out to two turns in Kentucky next, while stablemate Summer Promise will stay at the Spa for the Sept. 4 Spinaway (G1).
“This one will probably go to Keeneland (for the Alcibiades [G1] on Oct. 7) or the Pocahontas ([G3] on Sept. 17] at Churchill Downs,” Lukas said.
“I thought I did a poor job with Summer Promise (going into the Schuylerville). I didn’t have her tight enough and I underestimated how this track is. I think I got her beat, but we’ll try to correct that in the Spinaway. This one here (Naughty Gal), we pointed for and got a little smarter about what we were going to do. We put a couple of five-eighths (breezes) in her and it paid off.”