by Teresa Genaro
He’s the kind of horse that racing fans love: eight-years old, a state-bred that stays on the New York circuit, a hard tryer every time. Miraculously, he’s been claimed just once, by Jimmy Riccio, exactly one year ago today.
And in his very first attempt to win a graded stakes race, Sunday’s Troy (G3), he did, grinding out a three-quarter length advantage, the $70,000 two-year-old purchase getting the best of Blind Ambition, who cost $400,000, and fellow New York-bred Disco Partner, who’s earned over $1 million.
But exultation turned to consternation when, on the infield screen, spectators at Saratoga Race Course saw that Jose Ortiz had jumped off SANDY’Z SLEW, and that the bay gelding would be getting a ride home in the horse ambulance.
“He didn’t break down,” Ortiz said. “I could feel it when I started jogging (after the race), so I pulled him up. He took a bad step near the quarter-pole, so it was probably there (that he got hurt). I didn’t notice (at first). He was good enough to keep running.”
Good enough indeed. Sent to the lead by Ortiz, Sandy’z Slew wasted no time, running early fractions of :22.58 and :46.22 on a soft Mellon Turf Course. Dogged through much of the 5 1/2 furlongs by Tombelaine and favored Disco Partner, Sandy’z Slew ran the race of his career to hold them off along with a late charge by Blind Ambition. Disco Partner was third.
Sandy’z Slew was purchased as a yearling by W.D. North Thoroughbreds and Stacy Yagoda for $65,000 at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton sale of preferred New York-breds. He was pinhooked the following spring at the Fasig-Tipton Midatlantic sale of two-year-olds in training and bought by Team Clear Stars Stable for $70,000. Team Clear Stars and trainer Rick Schosberg campaigned him until he was claimed last year. He’s earned $684,487 to go along with a 43-10-8-5 career mark.
“He’s just a classy horse,” Riccio said, “and ‘Miah did a great job with him,” referring to trainer Jeremiah Englehart. “This just stinks.”
“He’s OK,” Englehart said. “He’s a little off in his left front. He walked onto the ambulance OK. We didn’t even have to put a Kinzey brace on, and we’ll take a scan later on.”
“As long as he’s OK, he’s going to have a home,” promised the owner.
Added Englehart, “I just want to see him come back OK. He’s a champ. He really is. He’s a great horse.”