Jockey Javier Castellano continued his role as the upset king at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 29 in the $400,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. IIT), which he won on 7-1 South American invaderDacita over heavily favored Tepin.
The Ballston Spa immediately followed Castellano’s ground-shaking ride on longshot winner Keen Ice in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and was Castellano’s third win of the day.
Dacita is a 4-year-old Chilean-bred daughter of Scat Daddy out of Daja, by Seeker’s Reward. She was bred by Haras Paso Nevado and recently acquired by owners Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds. Chad Brown trains Dacita, who was making her United States debut.
She faced a stout field that included 8/5 favorite Tepin, winner of the grade I Longines Just a Game Stakes and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (gr. IIT) and most recently second by a nose to Hard Not to Likein the grade I Diana Stakes.
Dacita, however, was no unknown. She had won five group races in Chile last year, including three group I stakes.
At the top of the stretch in the 1 1/6-mile race, Tepin was taking the lead away from pacesetter Kitten’s Queen and Dacita was next to the last. Kitten’s Queen had taken the field through fractions of :23.77, :47.35, and 1:10.78. Once the field straight up out of the turn, the running began. Dacita tore down the middle of the track, appearing to out-stride Tepin 2:1 against an overall quickening pace. She caught the favorite right before the wire to prevail by a neck in 1:39.67. My Miss Sophia finished in third.
“This filly ran terrific,” said Brown. “She’s been a little difficult to figure out in the morning. I figured maybe she would need a race actually coming in here. It looked like a good spot to get her started because of the distance, timing, and turf. I thought Javier would fit her. Thankfully it just set up for us, and they got up in time. I’m very pleased with the effort.”
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