SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Marylanders scored a nifty daily double on Travers day at Saratoga.
Two races before the Travers Stakes, won by Stuart S. Janney III's Coronado's Quest, the Maryland-owned, -trained and -ridden Secret Firm captured the King's Bishop Stakes.
One of the casualties of the King's Bishop, a Grade II seven-furlong stakes worth $200,000, was Favorite Trick, the 1997 Horse of the Year. As the 6-5 favorite in the field of eight, he finished fifth after being blocked down the stretch.
But he wasn't going to beat Secret Firm this day. Sent off at 10-1 despite five straight victories, Secret Firm and his jockey Edgar Prado raced third into the turn, gunned into the lead and then held off hard-charging Mint by three-quarters of a length.
Secret Firm paid $22, $9.40 and $7.10 across the board. The exacta with 9-1 Mint returned $81.50 and the trifecta with 6-1 Scatmandu paid $814. Secret Firm's winning time was 1 minute, 22 3/5 seconds.
"The only time I was concerned was inside the sixteenth pole. I thought it was too good to be true how easily he was going."
Asked whether it was extra special beating the Horse of the Year, Motion said: "It was extra special running in a race with the Horse of the Year. It's just a thrill running in a race like this."
Added Bill Beatson, who lives in Annapolis and owns 50 percent of Secret Firm: "It is an honor to beat the Horse of the Year -- an honor. We feel very privileged. All the credit in the world should go to the trainer."
Phyllis and Bill Dixon, who also live in Annapolis, own the other half of the 3-year-old colt.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Phyllis Dixon, overcome with emotion. "I've never felt like this. It's just the most amazing thing.
Motion said Secret Firm might run next in the $150,000 Jerome Handicap, a one-mile stakes Sept. 19 at Belmont Park.
NOTES: In the other stakes yesterday at Saratoga, the Grade III $114,900 Fourstardave Handicap, Wild Event won the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes in 1: 39 1/5. He paid $15.40 to win. Bomfim finished second, Rob 'n Gin third. After the Travers, Elliott Walden, trainer of runner-up Victory Gallop, said his colt might meet Coronado's Quest for the third time -- in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.
"Coronado's Quest ran a great race, and my horse ran a great race," Walden said. "We were closer to the pace than usual. But when they go a half-mile in 48 4/5 [seconds], he'd better be close to the pace. I'd say with a come-from-behind horse like this, those [slow] fractions hurt us."
Pub Date: 8/30/98