SCHUYLERVILLE STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 3 | 6 FURLONGS
Maggi Moss' So Many Ways stayed on strongly down the stretch to capture Friday's Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes, the second of a pair of graded stakes on opening day at Saratoga. Dispatched as the 5-2 favorite off her eight-length debut maiden romp at Parx, the Tony Dutrow juvenile covered six furlongs in 1:11 2/5 on the fast track and improved her record to a perfect two-for-two.
"I told the entry clerk who took the entries we were going to win this race," Dutrow said. "I've won this race before [with Touch Love in 2001] with a horse that wasn't as fast as her. I thought we'd be in good shape out there with the way this filly can finish up, and we were."
So Many Ways, who was the first winner for her freshman sire Sightseeing, fittingly became his first stakes winner as well. With new rider Javier Castellano aboard, the Pennsylvania-bred bay raced several lengths off the quick early tempo in her stakes debut.
Baby J hustled to take command through an opening quarter in :22 1/5, chased by Brown Eyes Blue and Can't Explain. So Many Ways was briefly fourth on the outside, but lost her position to the rail-hugging Sweet Shirley Mae as they progressed down the backstretch. Indeed, So Many Ways was outpaced for a little while and actually came under a ride, before beginning to pick it up rounding the far turn.
When Brown Eyes Blue abruptly dropped out of contention, that left Can't Explain as the most immediate threat to Baby J, who still led the way while reaching the half-mile mark in :45 4/5. But So Many Ways was steadily moving up into third.
Baby J was trying to emulate stablemate Pacific Ocean, the wire-to-wire winner of the Grade 3 James Marvin one race previously. As the front runner dug in at the head of the lane, she spurred thoughts of an opening-day sweep for embattled trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., whose 10-year ban was just upheld by a New York appeals court Thursday.
But try though she might, Baby J couldn't hold on. Can't Explain drew alongside her and put her head in front in midstretch, and wider out, So Many Ways was gathering momentum with every stride. Sweeping past the pace factors in deep stretch, the favorite looked stronger the farther she went. So Many Ways eventually pulled 1 1/2 lengths clear and paid $7.60, $4.10 and $2.90.
So there was a Dutrow double after all, but it was capped by brother Tony.
"She's a really nice filly," Castellano said. "Really good in the way she's developing, and I'm really excited about her. There was a lot of speed in the race today. I'm fortunate, I just got her covered up behind horses, and she responded so well today."
Can't Explain drew 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Baby J to secure runner-up honors. Fully Living was along for fourth, followed by Sweet Shirley Mae and a tailed-off Brown Eyes Blue. Mr Hall's Opus was scratched with a fever.
So Many Ways has now bankrolled $127,800. In her June 9 maiden at Parx, she broke to the early lead and opened up commandingly, but showed a different tactical dimension here. The Schuylerville was also her first start with Lasix.
Bred by John R. Penn and John C. Penn in the Keystone State, So Many Ways was sold for $22,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic October yearling. She is out of the unraced Dehere mare Happy Scene, making her a half-sister to non-black-type stakes scorer Scherzi. Her second dam is Grade 3 victress Really Happy, and further back, she hails from the family of multiple Grade 2-winning sire Event of the Year.
"I do think this filly will go on," Tony Dutrow said of her scope for further development. "Her pedigree says she'll stretch out."
The trainer, who sent out Grace Hall to win the Grade 1 Spinaway here last year, now has a live contender for the September 2 renewal.
"Absolutely [I'll] look at the Spinaway," he said.