As predicted, speed was the key to the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga on Wednesday, and odds-on favorite Bell’s The One proved she had all the speed needed to run off with the $200,000, six-furlong main track contest for fillies and mares.
There was certainly plenty of speed early, as Ain’t No Elmers took the field along at 22.8 sec for the quarter and 45.85 sec for the half, driven into tiring fractions by the presence of Honey I’m Good on her shoulder the whole way. Bell’s The One trailed the field, but that’s no problem when they’re tearing it up on the lead and jockey Corey Lanerie knew all he had to do was wait.
Turning for home, the front-runners hit the wall and the closers kicked open the door. Here was the late speed. Lake Avenue drove into a narrow lead inside the final furlong, but Bell’s The One – despite coming seven horses wide on the home turn – always had her in her sights and came relentlessly down the center track to nail the game Lake Avenue in the final strides, crossing the line a neck ahead. Ain’t No Elmers ran a brave race to stick on for third, two, and three-quarter lengths adrift.
Bell’s The One stopped the clock in a fraction under 1:10 and paid out $3.80 at the windows. Trainer Neil Pessin was delighted with the fast-finishing five-year-old, who spotted weight to all her seven rivals.
“I’ve been in this game for 40 years and she’s the best I’ve had,” he said. “She gives everything every time she races. It was a tough track to close on, I think she was the only one who closed late at all today.”
Bell’s The One
Already has Grade 1 glitter on her resume courtesy of the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs last September, and she wasn’t far off championship honors when third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint behind Gamine. The daughter of Majesticperfection will have a break now and then be freshened for the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland in October, a win-and-you’re-in race for the Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Leave Lanerie with the last word. “It can get kind of scary at times, especially at Saratoga. It’s hard to win here. But I just let her run her race, and that was enough.”
The pick of the undercard on Wednesday was the $150,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series Cab Calloway, for state-bred three-year-old colts over a mile on firm turf, in which Step Dancer took his record at the Spa to two-from-two with a late flourish, getting home just before curfew to pip long-time leader Dreamer’s Disease by a neck.
The son of War Dancer, trained by Barclay Tagg and ridden by Dylan Davis, covered the distance in 1:35.83 and paid off at $4.90 for the win.
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