In his first start since winning the Preakness by 5 1/4 lengths more than two months ago, Bernardini picked up where he left off on Saturday at Saratoga.
Over a sloppy track in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the 3-year-old son of A.P. Indy toyed with his five opponents in the $500,000 Jim Dandy, winning by nine lengths without ever having to be asked for his best in the Grade II race by jockey Javier Castellano.
The win was the fourth in five starts for Bernardini, who is owned by breeder Darley Stable and trained by Tom Albertrani, and the way he performed in his return suggests he will be invincible in the $1-million Travers on Aug. 26.
Bernardini, who paid $3.10, led throughout and completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.50. Minister’s Bid was second and Hemingway’s Key ran third.
“I was a little bit worried about the sloppy track,” Albertrani said. “He handled it with no problem. He showed today what a really good horse he is.”
The day’s other graded stakes, the $500,000 Diana, was a lot more thrilling, as Angara prevailed by a head over Sweet Talker with Argentina a nose back in third.
In a Grade I race reduced to six starters after Wend was scratched, Angara, a 5-year-old Alzao mare who had finished third in the 2005 Diana, rallied under jockey Fernando Jara to win for the sixth time in 19 starts.
Trained by Bill Mott, Angara, the 7-2 second choice, ran the 1 1/8 miles over a yielding turf course in 1:49.20.
Lady Of Venice, the 11-10 favorite who had won her first two starts in the U.S. for trainer Patrick Biancone, finished fifth, but was beaten by only about one length.
Attima, the 11-10 favorite, rebounded from a dismal performance in the American Oaks earlier in the month to win the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap in wire-to-wire fashion at Del Mar.
Victor Espinoza rode the 3-year-old Zafonic filly to her third win in four starts in the U.S. for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joe Scardino and trainer Julio Canani.
She completed the mile on turf in the Grade II race in 1:34.65. Sol Mi Fa finished second and Soothsay was third.
Wave Carver, a full brother to 2005 Champion of Champions winner Ocean Runaway, dominated his eight rivals in the $167,000 Governor’s Cup Derby on the California Breeders Champions card on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.
Wave Carver ran the 400 yards under jockey Ramon Sanchez in a stakes-record 19.34 seconds.
In another Grade 1 restricted to California breds, Be A Bono, the world champion quarter horse of 2004, made it three consecutive wins in the race named for his owner-breeder by taking the $161,000 Spencer L. Childers Handicap.