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Summer in Saratoga ends racing career with Dowager triumph

Nicole Russo Oct 24, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Summer in Saratoga found fall at Keeneland to her liking, winning the Grade 3, $150,000 Dowager Stakes on a seasonable Sunday afternoon in Lexington.

This was the first graded stakes victory for Summer in Saratoga ($12.80), a 5-year-old Hard Spun mare trained by Joe Sharp for the Highlander Training Center. It came at an opportune time, as Sharp said post race that this was to be her final start. The mare had been knocking at the door this season, winning the Tom Benson Memorial in March at Fair Grounds, and, two starts back, the Indiana General Assembly Distaff Stakes.

But in her most recent outing, Summer in Saratoga finished seventh in the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes, resulting in her being sent off with lukewarm support in the Dowager.

Summer in Saratoga bided her time early in the turf route under Corey Lanerie, and was fifth approaching the stretch. She split horses near the three-sixteenths pole and took command by two lengths. In the final stages, she held off a rally from favored Luck Money, prevailing by a half-length at the wire.

The final time for the 1 1/2 miles was 2:30.02 on turf that was officially rated good, but had plenty of give in it after overnight rain.

“That’s what it takes in these distance races: being able to settle and have that turn of foot,” Sharp said. “She’s been a filly that’s been really good to us. She’s the definition of a team effort. Highlander Training Center did a great job with her over the winter. [Bloodstock agent] Clark Shepherd picked her out. [Owner] Larry Hirsch has had a lot of patience with this filly, and it’s paid off.

“That was her final start for us. We’re definitely going to miss her. She’s been a special filly to us.”

Two lengths behind Luck Money, Michelene rounded out the trifecta.

“The other horse got the jump on us, but she tried really hard at the end,” said Joel Rosario, who rode favored Luck Money.

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