A late move into second place by Uncle Vinny paid off, when the son of Uncle Mo was placed first in the $150,000Sanford Stakes (gr. III) July 25 atSaratoga Race Course after Magna Lightwas disqualified from first. Watch Video
Magna Light ran a perfect race until he shied from three left-handed cracks from jockey Jose Ortiz and veered out about five paths. Stewards ruled that when Magna Light veered out just past the eighth pole, the son of Magna Graduate interfered with Percolator, who was attempting to rally under jockey Kendrick Carmouche. Magna Light also appeared to drift back into Percolator's path after veering out.
The stewards took a few moments, but soon posted the inquiry and Carmouche also objected. They ruled interference and placed Magna Light third, behind Main Line Racing Stable's and John Servis's Percolator, who entered off a June 6 victory in a maiden special weight race at Monmouth Park.
Starlight Racing's Uncle Vinny and rider John Velazquez avoided any of that trouble with an outside rally that saw him get by Percolator late, a half-length at the wire, a key move in the six-furlong race for 2-year-olds, as it would determine the winner.
"Perfect trip. He was running coming down the lane," Velazquez said. "We were getting to the point where he was rolling from the eighth pole to the wire and he inherited the win. Nothing I can say. He definitely was coming running. (Magna Light) ran a great race, too."
Uncle Vinny bounced back with the victory after he finished sixth as the favorite in the June 5 Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park. He earned that favoritism with a 4 1/2-length maiden special weight victory there in his debut. Uncle Vinny is the first stakes winner for freshman sire Uncle Mo , who stood for $25,000 this season at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky.
Uncle Vinny paid $10 to win, $5.80 to place, and $5.30 to show, while Percolator returned $17.60 to place and $11.20 to show. Magna Light delivered $8.60 to show. Tremont winner Cocked and Loaded, the 2-1 favorite, weakened late and finished sixth.
Owned by Michael Dubb and several other partners, Magna Light raced smoothly before the stretch incident, leading the field through a quarter-mile in :22.52 and a half-mile in :45.98. He reached the wire first in 1:10.92 on a fast track, three-quarters of a length in front of Uncle Vinny.
"I thought they were going to look at it, but not take it down," said Magna Light's trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "He's a good horse. Unfortunately we got taken down. We have to get over it, but it's a shame. You come to Saratoga to bring the horses the best way you can."
In stewards' notes posted to NYRA.com, the officials ruled that Magna Light shifted out several paths just past the eithth pole, forcing Percolator to steady, then drifted back down toward Percolator in the final strides.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, who picked up his sixth Sanford victory, Uncle Vinny launched his move in the far turn and sustained it to the wire.
"I really, really do feel bad for Rudy Rodriguez, Michael Dubb and all his connections, because they really did run a winning race," said Starlight's Don Lucarelli. "It's unfortunate to have to win them this way. We ran huge, too, but (Magna Light), today, was a better horse. Bottom line is, we get to cash a ticket. It is what it is."
Bred in Florida by Gilbert Campbell, Uncle Vinny is out of the stakes-winning Untuttable mare Arealhotlover. Starlight purchased Uncle Vinny for $175,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.