El Deal is officially a sprinter to be reckoned with. Breaking on top in Saturday’s $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga, the Jorge Navarro-trained horse increased his advantage at every call and waltzed across the wire eight lengths in front of Awesome Banner in the six-furlong dash.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, El Deal was only a half-length in front of Green Gratto through a quarter in :22.50, but soon broke clear to lead by three lengths after a half-mile in a sensible :45.28. All alone at the top of the stretch and with no serious threats coming from the back, El Deal increased his margin to six lengths at the eighth pole and added two more while finishing up in 1:09.26 over a fast track.
“[Navarro] told me break out of the gate and don’t look back,” Castellano said. “[He said] try to put him in the lead and don’t look back and let him roll. That’s his style. He’s one dimensional. I followed the instructions and just enjoyed the ride.”
The 5-2 third choice in a field of seven, El Deal paid $7.10 for owners Michelle Crawford and Albert Crawford. Awesome Banner rallied to edge 8-5 favorite Limousine Liberal by a head for the place. The order of finish was rounded out by Bird Song, Spartiatis, Ready for Rye, and Green Gratto.
The Vanderbilt field lost its probable favorite just an hour or so before post time when 2016 winner A. P. Indian, who also took the Forego (G1) at Saratoga last summer, was scratched due to lameness.
This was the third career stakes win for El Deal, who previously took the $98,000 Gold Fever at Belmont Park in 2015 when trained by Andrew Lakeman, and preceded this victory with a three-length triumph in the $57,000 Decathlon at Monmouth Park on June 11. The five-year-old is now for three-for-three under Navarro’s tutelage having kicked off the win streak with a 7 3/4-length score in a 4 1/2-furlong handicap at Charles Town on April 22. His record now stands at 16-9-2-1, $505,025.
“I did the right thing by taking him to all those [previous] tracks and prepping him there,” Navarro said. “I called the owners and said I thought it was time to see what we have and he proved it.
“I wasn’t going to take him to Mountaineer, he wasn’t going to prove anything there. We’re getting ready for the Breeders’ Cup and big races at the end of the year, so I wanted owners to have fun.
“We’ll see what’s next for him. He likes a [break] of 45-50 days, so that’s what he’ll get.
Bred in Kentucky by Marty Buckner, El Deal is by Munnings and out of Spirit of Wailea, an Out of Place half-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Choctaw Nation. El Deal is a half-brother to the stakes-placed Legacy Wildcat.