State of Rest captures Saratoga Derby

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SARATOGA SPRINGS – While a horse trained by O’Brien won the Grade I Saratoga Derby Invitational on Saturday, it was not the Bolshoi ballet, colts punters so thought it was the tie bet choice.

Irish superstar coach Aidan O’Brien sent the favorite to Saratoga racetrack, but his 28-year-old son Joseph brought the winner of the $ 1million race: State of Rest, who went to 21-1 and paid $ 44.20. State of Rest, a son of Starspangledbanner, accelerated at the behest of jockey John Velazquez near the quarter-pole and claimed a one-length victory over Soldier Rising. State of Rest covered 1 3/16 miles in 1: 53.35.

The Bolshoi Ballet won the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational, the first stop in NYRA’s Turf Triple series on July 10, and made a return trip to the United States for the second round. Under the guidance of jockey Ryan Moore, he followed a very fast early pace of 21.96 seconds for the opening quarter mile, 47.54 for the half and 1: 11.88 for the three quarters set by the cellist , but weakened in the stretch and finished fourth.

State of Rest, competitive in most of them but without a win in six consecutive races since his first win in June 2020, was managed patiently by veteran Velazquez. They were in the middle of the pack of 11 through the first six stages before jumping into the fight.

“I thought Johnny gave him a fantastic ride,” said Joseph O’Brien. “The pace was pretty strong. He put him at ease and he came home strong. We knew he would like the right track and we knew he would like to take more distance today.

The Saratoga Derby was State of Rest’s first race beyond a mile. He ran six times at the age of 2. After an almost eight-month hiatus, he made his 2021 debut on June 26 at the Curragh, where he finished third by a half-length in an unranked one-mile bet.

“He was actually unlucky not to win the last race,” said O’Brien. “He had a very good race. We knew that taking more distance today would suit him well.

Velazquez said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he first came out on State of Rest.

“The horse is actually a very, very nice horse and he wasn’t really paying attention to the next parade, so I was a little worried that he wasn’t thinking about the case and that’s what he was doing. he did. He didn’t break very well, ”said Velazquez. “I didn’t panic. I just saved the whole lot, looking for a place to go all the way and when I brought him out he responded really well. “

O’Brien was a very successful jockey in Europe for six years before following his famous father in training in 2016. He quickly proved to be a gifted rider and has already won several major races in Ireland, England and in France. He won the famous Melbourne Cup Grade I in 2017 and took his second victory last year. In 2019 he won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

According to Equibase, O’Brien won with his first starter at Saratoga. He said the Saratoga Derby was a tough test but seemed like a logical place for the Teme Valley-owned colt.

“When he ran well last time around we were looking for where we could go with him,” said O’Brien. “We thought it was a lovely place. We thought the conditions would suit him well. Obviously we didn’t know how he would handle this level and he had never done turns like this before, but he handled it really well.


O’Brien said he has been to Saratoga Springs once before for the yearling sales and is well aware of the town’s important place in the races.

“It’s fantastic to be here,” he said. “This is the most beautiful trail. Fantastic atmosphere. We were treated so well by everyone. It is an absolute pleasure to be here.

O’Brien will return to Ireland with a perfect record at Spa after netting the winner’s share of $ 550,000.

“It’s fantastic to have a winner here,” he said. “It’s a dream.”

Mike Kane is a freelance writer.


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