JAMES MARVIN STAKES | PURSE: $100,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 3 | 7 FURLONGS
Rebounding from the worst loss of his career in last month's True North Handicap, Michael Dubb and Gary Aisquith's Sage Valley rallied from off the pace to take Friday's Grade 3, $100,000 James Marvin on the opening day program at Saratoga.
Tracking a couple of lengths off the pacesetting favorite Souper Speedy, who was pressured through splits of :22 1/5 and :44 2/5, Sage Valley bided his time before bidding for the lead with just over a furlong to go. Seizing a short advantage at the eighth pole, the Discreet Cat colt pulled away to win by a length under Cornelio Velasquez in a time of 1:22 2/5 for seven furlongs over a fast track. He returned $8.90 as the 3-1 third choice in a field of six older horses.
"Very, very perfect trip. Cornelio (Velasquez) gave him a perfect ride," winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez said. "You always want to see those kinds of fractions when you come from behind. He's a very classy horse. It looked like he put a lot in the race; if we give him the right time, he ought to show up (next out)."
Closers also took the minor awards in the James Marvin, with Politicallycorrect besting Hello Lover for second by a half-length. Souper Speedy, who started at 9-5, weakened to fourth and was followed under the wire by Strapping Groom and Laurie's Rocket. Jaguar Paw, Right to Vote and Willyconker were early scratches.
Sage Valley won his career debut at Charles Town in January 2012, taking a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight. Dropped in for a $50,000 tag in his second start, he was claimed by Dubb from his third-place finish over the Aqueduct inner track. His new connections never ran him for a tag again.
The dark bay colt proceeded to record a pair of thirds before returning to the win column at Belmont in September. He followed that 1 1/2-length tally with an 8 3/4-length score in an allowance event and then rolled to a 6 3/4-length decision in his stakes bow, the November 9 Mr. Nasty at Aqueduct.
Sage Valley carried his form forward while returning from a 190-day layoff to take the Maryland Sprint Handicap, a Grade 3 event at Pimlico, on May 18, but was an even fifth in the June 8 True North at Belmont. His record now stands at 10-6-0-3, $315,200.
Bred in Kentucky by Buck Pond Farm, Sage Valley is out of the multiple stakes-winning Crptoclearance mare Ashwood C C, a daughter of stakes winner Dylan's Crafty.