Dornoch Battles Back to Win Remsen; Like Talk takes Demoiselle

Dornoch pulled off a refuse-to-lose re-rally in the final furlong and edged Sierra Leone by a nose in the $250,000 Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on an overcast Saturday.

The track was muddy and sealed all day, which made for a speed bias with the rail the best place to be.

Dornoch, the favorite in the field of 10 2-year-olds, moved to the lead and the rail quickly after breaking from post 3. By the time the brother of 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage hit the middle of the stretch, closer Sierra Leone had rallied from last to first inside the final furlong.

But Dornoch dug down and battled back in the final yards to pull out the win for trainer Danny Gargan.

The Remsen is a Derby points qualifier, with Dornoch ($5.40) earning 10 points, and Sierra Leone 5. Third-place finisher Drum Roll Please got 3 points, Moonlight 2, and Where’s Chris 1. Earlier, Life Talk won the $250,000 Demoiselle (G2), a Kentucky Oak (G1) points qualifier.

Remsen Stakes Recap: Dornoch’s Impressive Victory and Derby Path Revealed

Gargan said jockey Kendrick Carmouche, who rode Dornoch in the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park in August to a second-place finish after losing the lead in the stretch, told him the colt ‘gets to playing around,’ loses focus when he gets a lead but ‘he’ll run back if he sees another horse.’

And that’s how it happened.

“It was something that was always said, but never proven until today, but that was pretty impressive because I thought the other horse went way past him,’’ Gargan, who won last year’s Remsen with Dubyuhnell. “For him to dig in and fight back like that, especially after the half mile in 46 (seconds), three quarters in 1:11, he ran the whole race.”

Winning time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.30. Dornoch, a son of Good Magic, came into the Remsen off a 6 ½-length maiden win at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on Oct. 14. He improved to 4-2-2-0 and upped his earnings to $257,400 for owners West Paces Racing, R.A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing, and Pine Racing Stables

“It’s pretty difficult to come back, but he has a big stride, and two jumps – he was right there. I was pretty surprised,’’ Saez said.

Dornoch is headed to Florida for a rest and will train at Palm Meadows Training Center this winter. Two or three more races before the Derby, Gargan said.

$250,000 Demoiselle (G2): Life Talk makes it look easy

There was really no question in this one: Life Talk ($4), fourth in the BC Juvenile Fillies (G1), led from the start and cruised to a 3 ¾-length victory over 5-2 second choice Shimmering Allure.

Life Talk gave Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth straight win in the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies. He’s now won the race seven of the last 13 years, and nine times overall.

Life Talk, a daughter of Gun Runner, improved to 5-2-1-1 for owner Mike Repole and earned 10 qualifying points on the road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., said Pletcher told him: “‘try to be close, even if you have to use a little more, be a little more aggressive to stay close.’’’

“Not that much speed in the race so the way she break, I said I’m going to take the lead, so I’m going to let her do her thing and I don’t want to fight too much with her.”

Winning time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:51.10.

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