There weren’t many surprises in the $100,000 Troy Stakes at Saratoga Wednesday afternoon. Eugene Melnyk Racing Stables’ Bridgetown was expected to be on the lead early in the five and one-half furlong turf race and as the 7-5 favorite, was also expected to win or be very much in the hunt at the wire.
As it turned out, all came true.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bridgetown broke second from post three but quickly had the lead and took the field of seven 3-year-olds and older through a quick first quarter-mile in :23.34 and a half in :44.08 while running stride-for-stride with 2-1 second choice Perfect Officer in second and Freudian Dilemma, a length and one-half behind in third. At the top of the stretch, Freudian Dilemma dropped back while Bridgetown and Perfect Officer turned for home together under little urging by their riders. Three-sixteenths from the wire the running became more serious as both John Velazquez on Bridgetown and Javier Castellano on Perfect Officer threw their respective crosses and began to ride with more urgency as they battled to the finish line. Perfect Officer hung tough down the stretch but Bridegetown was too much as he went on to win by a half-length over Perfect Officer in second. Florida-bred Wekiva Wachee rallied for third some four lengths back with Night Officer, Regally Ready, Zeb and Freudian Dilemma completing the order of finish. Final time was 1:101.52.
After the race, Pletcher said there were aspects that he had expected and everything turned out almost exactly as planned.
“It was pretty straightforward,” Pletcher said. “We thought [Bridgetown] might be the speed of the race. We wanted to get him settled as best as he could and hope he had something for the finish. I knew it was going to be tight. Perfect Officer shows up each time. When Bridgetown is on his ‘A’ game, it’s tough to get by him.”
It was the second consecutive victory in the Troy Stakes for Bridgetown, who won this race last year with Valazquez aboard. Although the race was a bit easier in 2011 for Bridgetown when he won by more than six lengths, this running went according to plan but had some challenges as well.
“We expected that [Bridgetown] would be quick enough out of [the starting gate], and he wouldn’t get a challenge at least for the first quarter of a mile,” Velazquez said. “It’s kind of hard to time it – you want to give them at least a quarter of a mile nice and easy and then let them do their own thing after that – and he did it well. We didn’t expect to be alone on the lead, but we expected that we wouldn’t have to go a fast 21 [seconds] and change. I was kind of concerned about that first quarter, but felt if we weren’t given too much pressure we would be OK.”
Bridgetown was also bred in Florida by Eugene Melnyk, owner of Winding Oaks Farms in Ocala and was named after the city of Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. Melnyk resides in Barbados. It was the eighth victory and sixth stakes win from 18 starts for the 5-year-old horse who now has a career bankroll of $844,700.Bridgetown paid $4.90 to his backers with a $2 win ticket, $2.80 to place and $2.40 to show. Perfect Warrior paid $2.90 and $2.80 while Wekiva Wachee returned $4.90 to show.
– Photo of Florida-bred Bridgetown by Coglianese