You don’t see this every day: longtime Phipps Stable trainer Shug McGaughey saddling a NY-bred. The filly, Aquifolia, owned by Helen Alexander and Helen Groves, went off at 7-2 in today’s fourth race at Saratoga.
Ridden by Alex Solis, the filly broke well and settled, content to sit fourth down the backside as frontrunners Molls Alley and Hook Shot dueled a blazing :22.2 quarter and a :45-and-change half. The exchange took too much out of Hook Shot, who backed up, leaving the golden rail clear for first-time-starter Senora Dubai, who pulled away by 3 1/2 lengths to win in 1:23.92 for seven furlongs. Molls Alley, another firster, finished second, with Stray Bullet, a daughter of NY sire Aldebaron, coming on for third. The Shug filly ran evenly to finish fourth.
It’s good to see such lofty names in the NY-bred game.
– Tracy Egan