Caravel Notches First Graded Victory in Caress


Photo: Coglianese Photos
Caravel wins the Caress Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Caravel  made her graded stakes debut in the $200,000 Caress Stakes (G3T) July 24 at Saratoga Race Course and ran down her rivals to score by 2 1/2 lengths, notching her third consecutive win in the 5 1/2-furlong turf dash for older fillies and mares.

Pennsylvania's reigning Horse of the Year, who is bred, co-owned, and trained by Elizabeth Merryman, carried Bobby Flay's silks for the first time in the Caress. The celebrity chef purchased a majority interest in the 4-year-old Mizzen Mast   filly after her victory in the June 25 Goldwood Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Caravel will now be moved to the barn of trainer Graham Motion, with Merryman retaining part ownership.

"We've talked for weeks about her. He's watched her train pretty much every day. He's just been so nice and classy and sweet about her," Merryman said. "He was very much laying low today but we talked a lot about her and we'll continue to talk about her. 

"Bobby Flay now owns a majority interest in her and we made a plan when he was interested in buying to make that change. That was something I was in agreement with from the time of the sale of the majority of her. Graham is in the next barn to me at Fair Hill (in Maryland). It'll all be good.

"Hopefully, the goal is the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) and Graham has so much experience going that route. It seemed like a really smart thing to do from my perspective as well. Not that I don't think I could handle it, but with the change in the ownership, Graham has a system that works great and he's been through all that. It'll be a good way to go. I'll still own part of her."

Piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr., Caravel was settled in third early about three lengths back from the pacesetter Robin Sparkles . Jakarta , who ran for purse money only after being inadvertently scratched, chased in second as fractions went in :21.64 and :44.58 through a half-mile.

Ortiz swung Caravel out three wide and the gray or roan filly advanced into second in the final stretch. Caravel wore down Robin Sparkles and drew away, while also holding off a late bid from In Good Spirits  to hit the wire in 1:02.38. She paid $4.00 as the even-money favorite.

"The whole turn, she was on the bridle waiting for the time to go," Ortiz said. "I wanted to make sure to go around the horses like she did last time at Monmouth. I was able to get in the clear and as soon as I asked, she gave me a really good kick—a good turn of foot." 

Caravel now has seven wins from nine starts and earnings of $367,872. Her only two losses have been third-place finishes on softened turf.

In Good Spirits edged Robin Sparkles by a half-length for second. Tass , Flower Point , and Jakarta completed the order of finish.

Caravel is the first foal produced from the Congrats   mare Zeezee Zoomzoom, whose 3-year-old daughter Tipsy Chatter  (by Bourbon Courage  ) is also a winner for Merryman. Zeezee Zoomzoom is also dam of Witty, an unraced juvenile gelding by Great Notion  , a yearling Holy Boss   colt, and a Great Notion colt foaled in April. She was reported bred to Street Boss   for 2022.

"It's pretty amazing," Merryman said of winning the Caress. "You watch Saratoga and just think it's the place to be. To come up here with a filly like that, it's amazing."  

Video: Caress S. (G3T)