The expectations had always been high for Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider’s Elate, and the 3-year-old filly finally lived up to them in winning the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Saratoga.
Elate sat a few lengths off of a swift pace set by eventual runner-up It Tiz Well throughout much of the race before taking the lead around the far turn and drawing off to win by 5 ½ lengths. Salty rallied from a similar early position to hold third from the fast-finishing Actress.
Trainer Bill Mott, who registered his third Alabama win on Saturday, was pleased with how his filly finished up in the 1 ¼-mile event, “It looks like the mile and a quarter is her type of trip. She finished well and she’s got a nice burst of speed, and she stays on well.”
Mott also commented on Elate’s progression from her maiden win in November to where she is now. “We gave her a little bit of time after she broke her maiden and we started cranking her up and getting her ready for the races, and it was just kind of like she really hadn’t come alive yet.
“She was doing fine; her works were good without being spectacular, and you could tell she was probably a filly that was going through a little bit of a growing stage, a development stage. We said then that she probably wouldn’t be on her game for the Kentucky Oaks, that she was more of an Alabama filly, and that’s exactly how it worked out.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz was full of praise for the filly after getting his first victory in the Alabama.
“I felt I had a lot of horse underneath me,” he said. “I just went along with her, and as we entered the stretch, she really got going, and I didn’t look back.”
Ortiz, who had ridden the filly in five of her seven previous starts was quick to reflect on the expectations he had for the filly from day one.
“Ever since the first day I got on her in the morning, we thought she was going to be a really nice filly,” he noted. “ She won by 12 lengths first time out and then she went a little bit off form — just being green, breaking a little slow. I’m glad she put herself together and look what she can do when she matures.”
It Tiz Well ran well to finish second after setting the pace through opening fractions of :23.46, :46.96 and 1:10.92. Her Jockey Drayden Van Dyke was very encouraged by the effort put in by his filly.
“She broke sharp and I was on the lead, but I would have much rather her relax more than she did. If she would have relaxed for at least an eighth of a mile or more, she would have finished a lot better. I need to get her to relax a little bit better than that, but she ran hard. She ran good,” Van Dkyke said.
Mark Casse, trainer of third-place finisher Salty was grateful to see his filly finally get a good trip, but quick to disregard allegations that she might be better running shorter.
“I thought she ran well, and all you ever ask for and all I have ever asked for is a good trip. I am proud of her. And the best horse won. “I don’t want to comment on her best distance until we review everything. None of these fillies will ever have to run that far ever again.”
Rounding out the order of finish were New Money Honey, Lockdown, Mopotism, Holy Helena, and Unchained Melody, who was pulled up. The final time was 2:02.19
Elate is by Medaglia d’Oro out of the stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare Cheery. She was bred in Kentucky by her owners.