Blame overtakes Quality Road to win Whitney

The Graveyard of Champions claimed another victim on
Saturday.

Blame, ridden by Garrett Gomez, rallied in the stretch, overtook
heavily favored Quality Road in the final strides and won the
$750,000 Whitney Handicap by a head at Saratoga Race Course.

Four-year-old Quality Road, dominant in each of three victories
this year and ranked as the nation’s leading older male going into
the Whitney, took the lead in the run to the first turn and had a
clear advantage at the furlong pole before being confronted by the
stretch-running Blame.

”I was just biding my time until we turned for home,” Gomez
said. ”I just didn’t want to sit too long because he’s got a long
consistent run and just keeps coming. I just wanted to make sure
that when we turned for home I had him in a good place. He kept
staying on and in that last eighth of a mile.”

Blame is unbeaten in three starts this year and has a five-race
winning streak, dating to late 2009. The Whitney was his second
Grade 1 title.

”He’s pretty tough,” trainer Albert Stall said. ”He’s got a
great turn of foot. If he’s within striking distance of a horse, he
usually gets there. That’s what I’ve learned about him in the last
six months or so. The first half in 48 (seconds) was a little
nerve-racking, but it kept us close. If he (Quality Road) goes in
46 seconds and going just as easily, we’re 15 lengths out of
it.”

Blame, the second choice in the wagering behind the 1-2 Quality
Road, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.88 and returned $8.80, $3 and $2.20.
Quality Road, who was ridden by John Velazquez, returned $2.40 and
$2.10. Musket Man, third of six, paid $2.50 to show. The 4-year-old
Blame earned $450,000 for owners Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne
Farm.

Earlier on the Saratoga program, Champagne d’Oro, ridden by
Miguel Mena, took over in the stretch after a long battle for the
lead through blistering early fractions and won the $250,000 Test
Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 4 1/2 lengths.

The Test was the second Grade 1 win of the season for the Eric
Guillot-trained filly, who won the Acorn at Belmont Park in June
and her third victory in six starts. She ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.71
and paid $12.40, $6.40 and $4.80. Runner-up Bonnie Blue Flag
returned $6 and $4 and Bell of the Hall, third of nine, paid $5 to
show.

Champagne d’Oro earned $150,000 for her owners, the Southern
Equine Stable and Mike Smith.

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