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Saratoga (July 31): Alfred G Vanderbilt Hcap G1 $350,000 6f, dirt, 3yo+
Trainer: Jack Sisterson
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Owner: Calumet Farm
Pedigree: 5 ch h Speightstown – Riviera Romper (Tapit)
A 34-1 shocker in the Vanderbilt as Lexitonian carried the Calumet silks for his maiden G1 success – and his first win of any kind for 14 months.
The owner’s British-born private trainer Jack Sisterson is making a habit of such outcomes, having also landed G1s at decent prices with Vexatious, True Timber and Channel Cat in the last 12 months.
Yet while none of those could be regarded as obvious winners of their respective races, neither were they quite as surprising as Lexitonian, whose only previous graded success came in a G3 at Pimlico at the Preakness meeting two years ago.
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The five-year-old broke fast under Jose Lezcano, who rushed him into the lead in a bid to make the most of the rail from his inside gate. All well and good, leading to an opening sectional of 22.04s – but the goose looked cooked just after halfway (note 44.45s for the half-mile), with Lexitonian under a ride and eventual second Special Reserve among other looming large outside him.
Special Reserve even got his head in front but the winner re-rallied gamely and was a half-length up at the wire, with Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore closing for third a length and a quarter behind the runner-up. The popular veteran got a bump early doors and never landed a blow.
Lexitonian’s final time of 1m09.38s as the biggest price on the board was worth a BSF of 102 – last week’s highest figure.
“I said to Jose he’s a horse who fights. Please get him out of the gate and engage him early,” said Sisterson. “I believe if you engage him early, he will feel the pressure and respond to that.
“At the half-mile pole if he comes off the bridle, perfect. That’s him and he will respond. It’s even better if a horse heads him because he’ll fight on again, which happened. He stuck his head out in front.”
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