The Spa Spot: Quick Wit wins muddy Hall of Fame Stakes
A new jockey and a change of surfaces were fine with Quick Wit, who won the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes Friday.
The Grade 2 turf race for 3-year-olds became a romp through the mud after heavy rain early in the afternoon knocked the final four turf races to the day to the sloppy, sealed main track. The American Graded Stakes Committee will decide whether the race will retain its graded status.
Two trainers scratched their horses, but Dale Romans kept Quick Wit in and had to find a replacement rider when Corey Lanerie's journey to Saratoga from Kentucky was affected by the weather.
Rajiv Maragh took the assignment and guided Quick Wit to a victory by a nose over Casaba. Quick Wit broke his maiden on dirt in Florida, but after he failed to find success in stakes on the main track - including a 27-length loss in the mud in the Derby Trial - Romans moved him to the turf.
Romans' decision to stay in the Hall of Fame stakes turned out nicely when Maragh delivered a well-timed ride. Favored Csaba battled through the stretch and was edged at the wire. They finished nearly five lengths ahead of Daddy Nose Best.
"My horse ran an awesome race to get the win," Maragh said. "It was a very tough race and he had to fight hard for it, but he prevailed in the end. I was just working my horse as hard as I could and trying keep him motivated until the end. Fortunately, he held on to win.
"[Dale Romans told me] to try to get him in a good, forward position out of the gate. It seemed like the track was really favoring the speed horses, so we didn’t want to have too much work to do. He was just always there for me. He put me where I needed to be and finished up strong.”
Quick Wit completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.95 and paid $23.80.
“This horse has form on the dirt," Romans said. "I thought if it came off [the grass] he might have a better chance. It was just a matter of if he would move up.
"He has steadily improved and gotten better and better. We bought him out of the [2011 Keeneland Association November Breeding Stock Sale] relatively cheap and he’s gotten better and better. I’m a huge fan of [Quick Wit’s sire] Sharp Humor because he was my horse. When they hit the wire, I thought we’d won.”