Three Diamonds Farm’s Fire At Will made his main track debut a winning one, staying off the pace as Blame the Booze set the early speed before gaining the lead in the stretch and holding off the even-money favorite’s re-rally bid in deep stretch for a half-length win in the Grade 3, $100,000 With Anticipation for juveniles moved off the turf on Wednesday at Saratoga Race Course.
After running sixth in his debut on August 20 over firm Saratoga turf, Fire At Will made his second appearance at the Spa, taking a step up in class in the 16th running of the With Anticipation that was originally carded for 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf. With heavy rainfall forcing the race off the grass and into a seven-furlong dirt sprint, Fire At Will was content to track in the back of the pack in fourth under Irad Ortiz, Jr. as debut winner Blame the Booze led the field through the opening quarter-mile in 22.60 seconds and the half in 45.61 on the sloppy and sealed track.
Approaching the top of the stretch, Ortiz, Jr. urged Fire At Will up and soon gained the advantage along the rail, overtaking Blame the Booze and repelled a stretch-length challenge, completing the course in 1:23.14.
“Speed is doing well so far, but I don’t like to rush the horses too much, so I just broke out of there with good intentions,” said Ortiz, Jr. who won four races on the card and is the meet leader with 51 victories with five days remaining. “He didn’t have the speed to stay close with them, so I just let him be him, let him settle and tried to save some ground. When I asked him, he responded really well from the half-mile all the way to the wire.
“I was saving all the ground I could and stayed on the rail,” he added. “I was thinking about getting outside but I saw the horse [Blame the Booze, No. 1] get out a bit, so I just stayed on the rail and went for it.”