Seventh Street's multitude of backers may have been cursing their bad luck when their choice drifted well off the rail around both turns of Sunday s $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap at a soggy Saratoga. But jockey Rajiv Maragh knew exactly what he was doing with the classy filly, who reasserted herself after relinquishing the lead in early stretch to register a well-deserved 1 1/2-length decision over 6-5 favorite Isella in the Grade 1 fixture for fillies and mares.
Seventh Street was first to show in front in the 1 1/8-mile Go for Wand but angled well out toward the middle of the track entering the clubhouse turn. The daughter of Street Cry continued to race wide while contesting the pace with Color Me Up, lost the advantage to Spritely entering the stretch before fighting back bravely to ultimately re-claim the lead inside the sixteenth pole and win going clear.
Miss Isella, who raced well placed just behind the early leaders following a slow start, appeared to be laboring and dropping back approaching the stretch before spurting at the end to outfinish Spritely by a head to be second. They in turn were followed by Weathered, Color Me Up, and Luna Vega.
Seventh Street paid $4.90 after negotiating the distance in 1:51.01 seconds over a track downgraded from fast to sloppy approximately 20 minutes before post time.
"Rajiv thought getting off the rail was the thing to do with her," said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "He didn't want to get bottled up with her along the inside if she got outrun for the lead. Give him a lot of credit. That was his objective and it worked out perfectly."
The Go for Wand marked the first time Seventh Street had raced beyond a mile and one sixteenth and Mettee admitted he wasn t as confident she d get the distance as his rider.
"Rajiv worked her the last two times and was more confident than I was she'd get the nine," said Mettee. "I was a little concerned when they posted the half mile split in :47 and something but she saved just enough to get running again in the last 100 yards. The wet track probably helped us as well."
Mettee said now that Seventh Street has won going nine furlongs, the mile and a quarter, Grade 1 Personal Ensign could be under consideration for her next start along with the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Ballerina at the end of the meet.
Trainer Ian Wilkes said he thought his filly, Miss Isella, might not have handled the wet track quite as well as the winner.
"She struggled a little over the ground," said Wilkes. "On the turn I thought she might even run last and then she came back on again at the end."
* Blame earned himself a possible berth in the starting lineup for the Grade 1 Travers on August 29 with a rail-skimming three-quarter-length decision over Gone Astray in the $78,000 Curlin Stakes. Guam Typhoon finished another 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third. American Dance pressed the pace for nearly six furlongs before fading to finish fifth as the 2-1 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-olds.
Blame($10.80) ran a 1 1/8 miles over what was still a fast track in 1:49.05. The Claiborne Farm homebred son of Arch was ridden to victory by Jamie Theriot for trainer Al Stall Jr.