SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Salve Germania's introduction to U.S. racing did not begin well but ended in the Saratoga winner's circle after the Irish-bred filly rallied from last to a shocking head victory over 9-5 favorite Rutherienne in Saturday's $200,000 Ballston Spa Stakes.
Salve Germania, sent off at 24-1, was fractious enough to toss jockey Javier Castellano both in the paddock and behind the starting gate just prior to loading for the Grade 2 Ballston Spa. She also ran off briefly in the post parade prior to the race. But once the field was dispatched for the 1 1/16-mile turf race, Salve Germania rated at the rear of the pack, remained last turning into the stretch, then exploded leaving the eighth pole to overtake Rutherienne in the closing strides.
Rutherienne, beaten less than a length by Forever Together in the Grade 1 Diana earlier in the meet, rated within easy striking distance of the early leaders, split horses with a quick move to take command near midstretch, and appeared home free. My Princess Jess rallied mildly to finish third.
Salve Germania, a 4-year-old daughter of Peintre Celebre owned by Manfred Hellwig, had won just once in eight previous starts, all in Europe, although she finished third in a Group 3 stakes in her 3-year-old finale. Salve Germania, who raced on Lasix for the first time in the Ballston Spa, is trained by Waldemar Hickst but was prepared for her U.S. debut in trainer Todd Pletcher's barn. The Pletcher-trained Captain's Lover finished a tiring sixth after setting the pace into the stretch.
Salve Germania covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.25 over a soft course and paid $50.50 as far and away the longest price in the seven-horse Ballston Spa field.
"She was a little scared in the paddock and post parade, since this was her first time racing in this country," said Castellano. "I was a little disappointed when she ran off when we began the post parade because something like that can take a lot of a horses' energy away. But she settled beautifully in the race, and when I asked for her run, she kicked in very well."