February 21, 2024

High Oak rumbles in Saratoga Special

High Oak wins the Saratoga Special (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

High Oak enjoyed a perfect, stalk-and-pounce trip on his way to the winner’s circle in Saturday’s $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2) for two-year-olds.

Rating less than a couple of lengths behind Gunite and Doctor Jeff, who traded leads after dueling through an opening quarter in :21.82 and a half-mile in :44.93, High Oak made a three-wide bid outside those two at the top of the stretch. Easily taking over approaching the eighth pole, High Oak poured it on late to win by 4 1/4 lengths under Junior Alvarado.

“When they hung up those fractions, I thought he’d have to be pretty good to hang in there himself,” winning trainer Bill Mott said.

Owned by LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable, High Oak covered 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast track in 1:16.53 and returned $22.40.

Gunite held second by 3 1/4 lengths, while Nakatomi edged Double Thunder for third by a nose. Doctor Jeff, the 3-2 favorite, weakened to fifth and was followed by Stolen Base, Ottoman Empire, Glacial, Dance Code, and Red Run.

High Oak moves on with a two-for-two record. The colt debuted on June 26 at Belmont Park going 5 1/2 furlongs, where he prevailed by a neck after getting up in the final yards. He’s now bankrolled $159,500 and could point next for the Champagne (G1) at Belmont on Oct. 2.

“You certainly would look at him and say that a one-turn mile is going to be okay,” Mott said.

Bred in Kentucky by Catherine Park, and sold for $70,000 at Keeneland September, High Oaks is by Gormley and out of Champagne Sun, an Elusive Quality half-sister to Grade 2-winning Sapphire N’ Silk and Grade 3 winner Golden Itiz.

Also hailing from this female family is Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) winner Shared Account, the dam of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) heroine Sharing.