Blame overtakes Quality Road to win Whitney

The Graveyard of Champions claimed another victim on


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


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


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


Champagne d’Oro earned $150,000 for her owners, the Southern

Equine Stable and Mike Smith.

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