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Flower Alley Makes Move Look Better

Times Staff Writer

Skipping the Preakness and Belmont Stakes with Flower Alley has turned out to be a wise move for owner Eugene Melynk and trainer Todd Pletcher.

In three starts since finishing a troubled ninth in the Kentucky Derby, the son of Distorted Humor has a close loss in the Dwyer and a pair of wins, including his biggest, a 2 1/2 -length victory over 2-1 second choice Bellamy Road in the $1-million Travers on Saturday at Saratoga.

In giving Pletcher, the country’s top trainer in purse earnings in 2005, his first win in the Grade I, Flower Alley, the 3-1 third choice, tracked the pace set by Bellamy Road, then took charge in the final eighth of a mile under jockey John Velazquez. Roman Ruler, the 2-1 favorite, finished third, more than five lengths behind the winner.

This gave Flower Alley, purchased for $165,000 as a yearling at Keeneland, a sweep of Saratoga’s main events for 3-year-olds. He won the Jim Dandy, a Grade II, by 5 1/4 lengths July 30.

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“This is huge,” Pletcher said. “I’d have to say this ranks up there with the two Breeders’ Cup wins [with Ashado and Speightstown] last year.”

Flower Alley’s victory came about 40 minutes after Lost In The Fog remained unbeaten, winning for the ninth time against six opponents in the $250,000 King’s Bishop.

Taking control immediately under regular rider Russell Baze, the 3-year-old Lost Soldier colt prevailed by 4 3/4 lengths as the 3-10 favorite, running seven furlongs in the Grade I in 1:22.56.

Owned by Harry Aleo and trained by Greg Gilchrist, Lost In The Fog now has wins at seven tracks, with Saratoga joining Belmont Park, Calder, Golden Gate Fields, Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Turf Paradise.

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“This is the first Grade I I’ve ever won and it’s a great feeling,” Gilchrist said. “It takes a special horse to keep putting on these kind of performances.”

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In the first of the four graded stakes on the Saratoga card, Leroidesanimaux, the 3-5 favorite, won his seventh in a row, taking the $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap and also setting a record.

Ridden by Velazquez, the 5-year-old Brazilian-bred led throughout to win by 1 1/4 lengths for T N T Stud and trainer Bobby Frankel. In his first outing since he won the Jimmy Kilroe on March 5 at Santa Anita, the son of Candy Stripes ran the 1 1/16 miles in the Grade II in 1:39.92. This bettered the inner turf course record of 1:39.99 set by Roman Envoy on Aug. 3, 1992.

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First Samurai, the 2-1 second choice, remained unbeaten with a 4 1/4 -length win over 3-5 favorite Henny Hughes and three others in the $245,000 Hopeful.

Owned by a partnership and trained by Frank Brothers, the 2-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway is three for three after winning the Grade I under jockey Jerry Bailey. He ran the seven furlongs in 1:23.25.

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In a span of two weeks, Wild Fit has gone from an unraced maiden into a Grade I winner.

Thirteen days after the 2-year-old daughter of Wild Wonder won her debut by four lengths, Wild Fit was equally impressive in the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante.

The 3-2 favorite under jockey Alex Solis, the gray sat well off the quick pace, then circled wide to win going away in 1:23.20 for the seven furlongs. She is owned by Brewer Racing Stable and Murray Smith and trained by Jeff Mullins.

Demonstrating the weakness of the Sorrento Stakes, won by Bully Bones, who was eighth on Saturday as the second choice, the next three finishers in the Debutante were all fillies who didn’t compete in that Grade III on Aug. 6. Mystery Girl, who broke her maiden July 23, was second, ahead of River’s Prayer and Miss Norman.

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