Call Paul Goes Gate to Wire in Saratoga Special


Photo: Skip Dickstein
Call Paul (inside) wins the Saratoga Special Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Despite a bit of a bumpy start and some more bumps along the way, Michael Dubb, Simon David, Bethlehem Stables, and Bruce Irom's Call Paul still prevailed Aug. 12 in the $200,000 Saratoga Special Stakes Presented by Miller Lite (G2) at Saratoga Race Course for his second consecutive win.

With only four horses entered in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds—Stage Left and Sir Truebadour scratched—the break was fraught with contact. Todd Pletcher trainee Meade bumped Call Paul twice out of the gate before being corrected. Then, in the turn, Call Paul brushed briefly with Spinoff, who backed away and shifted to last place. 

Guided by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., Call Paul managed to shake off the minor collisions and was still on the lead by the quarter-mile mark. After he set fractions of :22.48 and :45.98 through the first half-mile, the worst appeared to be over for the son of Friesan Fire  who held command comfortably as the pack made the turn for home. 

But drifting toward the rail as he stalked the pace midstretch, Tight Ten made brief contact with Call Paul, who was sent off stride again. As the two dug in for home, Call Paul veered slightly outward and brushed up against Tight Ten at the sixteenth pole.

Under urging from Ortiz, Call Paul maintained the lead and won by a length in a final time of 1:16.55. Tight Ten held for second, and Spinoff came in third. Meade finished last, 7 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

"He responded very well when I asked him," Ortiz said. "Initially, we wanted to sit just off the speed, but with the scratch, when we broke, we got out there and got the lead. There wasn't too much bumping in the late stretch. I don't think it affected him."

Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Call Paul returned $3.70 and $2.40. 

"He's a nice colt," said winning trainer Jason Servis. "I've been breezing him behind horses and covering him up, and we were thinking, if he got stuck down inside and we were laying second or third, not bad. He's got a great mind."

As to next steps, Servis said the colt will most likely remain in New York to train, but a possible target could be the Oct. 6 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park

Bred in Pennsylvania by Beatrice Patterson and Vicky Schowe, out of the Forestry mare Avani Force, Call Paul broke his maiden in his debut July 5 at Delaware Park before making the step up to graded company. The bay colt was pinhooked to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale and was purchased by Dubb for $210,000 from the consignment of Grassroots Training and Sales. Call Paul has $135,500 in earnings. 

Video: Saratoga Special S. Presented by Miller Lite (G2)