In a performance that mirrored his eye-popping debut win June 5 at Belmont, Repole Stables, St. Elias Stables, and Gainesway Stables’ Wit was away slowly from the gate, raced in mid-pack, and blasted by the leaders at the top of the stretch to draw away in the July 17 $150,000 Sanford Stakes (G3) at Saratoga Race Course.
A $575,000 yearling purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September Sale, the colt was never a secret coming out of the Todd Pletcher barn, going off at less than even money in his highly anticipated first start. On that day, Wit displayed the professionalism and brilliance of a stakes-quality horse, and the Spa’s first graded stakes for juveniles was next on the agenda for the son of freshman sire Practical Joke .
With Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons, the colt entered the starting gate as the even-money favorite in the field of 12. After ambling out of the gate, Wit chased the leaders, positioning himself a few lengths off the leaders. Tracking splits of :22.68 and :46.08, Ortiz Jr. nudged the dark bay into contention and he swung three-wide into the lane with a quarter-mile left. Wit then rolled by Headline Report at the three-sixteenths pole and increased his advantage, sweeping under the wire an empathic eight-length winner.
The connections of Wit in the trophy presentation for the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course
“He’s not a great horse breaking out of there,” said Ortiz Jr. “I gave him the time to find his stride, and he did. By the half-mile, he started getting into a rhythm and he wanted to improve his position, so I started letting him do it by his own. By the three-eighths pole, I had to call his attention and he responded right away.
“For a 2-year-old that was very impressive. He’s a nice horse.”
Keeneland maiden winner Headline Report, who pressed most of the early pace, secured the runner-up spot 5 1/2 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Dance Code .
Wit ran the six furlongs on a good track in 1.11.20 and paid $4.20 to win. The colt improved his earnings to $132,000.
Catch the Smoke was scratched.
Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 6 could serve as a rematch for the top two finishers, as Ward indicated a start there would be likely for Headline Report.
Wit, who became the first black-type stakes winner for Practical Joke with his Sanford win, was bred in Kentucky by Rosilyn Polan. He is produced from the unraced Medaglia d’Oro mare Numero d’Oro and is a a half brother to graded stakes winner Barkley (Munnings ), an earner of $368,425.
Video: Sanford S. (G3)