Rhyme Schemes was strongly favored to back up his 9 1/2-length maiden win at Ellis Park in Saturday’s $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2). He not only did so, but improbably equaled that lengthy margin in the process.
Racing in the second flight down the backside, a length or two behind the leading pair of Market Street and Woodcourt, Rhyme Schemes made a three-wide bid approaching the quarter pole, seized command entering the stretch, and strolled home much the best under Ricardo Santana Jr. The final time for 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast track was 1:17.12.
“The only thing I was concerned about today is if we got into some sort of speed duel with somebody and take away from his nice rhythm,” winning trainer Norm Casse said. “He broke slowly and that forced Ricardo to get him into the bridle and into his own rhythm and he runs much better that way.”
Market Street, who set early splits of :22.18 and :45.71, held on for second by three parts of a length over second choice Haul. Lasso finished fourth and was followed by Edified, who endured a troubled start, and Woodcourt, who was eased out of contention through the stretch.
Rhyme Schemes races for Pura Vida Investments. He was a non-threatening sixth of nine in his Churchill Downs debut in mid-May, but showed a different dimension the following month when sporting blinkers in the aforementioned Ellis maiden, which he won emphatically in wire-to-wire fashion.
“I knew the horse was very talented from the onset. Right when we got him, I could tell that he had multiple gears underneath him” Casse said. “If you go back and watch his first race, he just ran so spotty that you could tell he needed blinkers. It keeps him a little focused.
“We skipped the Sanford (G3) with the intention of running him twice. Here today and coming back in the Hopeful (G1). I think going forward, he’s going to be a better two-turn horse but that remains to be seen.”
Bred in Kentucky by Parks Investment Group, Rhyme Schemes sold for $210,000 at Keeneland September. He’s by Ghostzapper and out of Katherine, by Distorted Humor. This female family has also yielded the multiple Grade 1-winning Dream Rush, the dam of Grade 1 star Dreaming of Julia.