Saturday’s $232,500 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga was billed as a 6-furlong sprint, but after odds-on favorite Volatile posted a slow opening half-mile, the race instead turned into a final quarter-mile dash. Volatile won that race, too, comfortably posting a top-level victory in his graded stakes debut.
After the gate scratch of Lexitonian, who might have helped ensure a quicker pace, Volatile was left on his own to set tepid fractions of :23.46 and :46.67. With the field of four separated by less than two lengths at the top of the stretch, the race became a sprint to the finish, and Volatile had plenty left in the tank to hold the others at bay by 1 1/4 lengths under Ricardo Santana Jr.
Owned by Three Chimneys Farm and Phoenix Thoroughbred III and trained by Steve Asmussen, Volatile crossed the wire in 1:09.61 over a fast track, getting his last quarter in :22.94. He paid $2.80
Whitmore, who broke through the gate before the start and was reloaded, couldn’t outsprint the favorite from the inside but ran a fine race for second, a half-length ahead of Mind Control. Firenze Fire was a neck farther behind in fourth.
“He’s improved every time he’s run,” said Santana of the 4-year-old gray son of Violence, who’s now won five of six starts. “We have a lot of confidence in him.”
A winner on debut last July at Ellis Park, Volatile lost his only start to date in a Churchill allowance in September before rebounding over the same track in November against similar foes. Volatile dominated in his return to action on Apr. 24, winning an allowance at Oaklawn Park by 7 1/2 lengths, and followed up with an eight-length romp in the Aristides S. at Churchill on June 6. He’s now earned $341,040.
Bred in Kentucky by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and Stretch Run Ventures, Volatile was an $850,000 Keeneland September yearling. He was produced by the stakes-winning Melody Lady, a daughter of Unbridled’s Song that has also reared Volatile’s stakes-winning full brother Buy Sell Hold. Volatile counts as his second dam the Grade 1-winning Lady Tak.