SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Hieroglyphics has been consistent, racing forwardly and finishing first or second in five of his six most recent starts. On Monday in the paddock prior to the $100,000 Better Talk Now Stakes, trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez decided to try and take him farther off the pace.
The plan worked to perfection as Hieroglyphics settled several lengths back while saving ground and then finished strongly to run down the battling leaders in the final sixteenth of a mile. He held off a frantic final bid from Small Bear to win by a neck.
The Better Talk Now was restricted to 3-year-olds who had never won a stakes of a mile or more. Hieroglyphics came into the race with wins at a mile and 1 1/16 miles, but Monday was his stakes debut.
Adonis Creed came barreling out of the gate to seize the early lead from even-money favorite Blind Ambition, who also is trained by Pletcher. He set solid splits of 23.28 and 47.13 before being joined on the far turn of the mile turf race by Blind Ambition and three-wide Holiday Stone.
Those two took over in upper stretch following six furlongs in 1:10.75, but the taxing pace began to take its toll. At that point, Velazquez took Hieroglyphics off the rail and to the outside of the top pair. He surged to the lead leaving the sixteenth pole and then held off Small Bear and a late run from Snap Decision.
"The race played out perfectly," Velazquez said. "We wanted to sit back with him and save ground, and when I took him outside he was full of run."
Hieroglyphics, a son of Pioneerof the Nile who races for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, paid $17.40 in the six-horse field and was timed in 1:33.69.
"This colt is putting everything together," Pletcher said. "He had a great trip and really finished well."
Hieroglyphics now has a 7-3-3-0 record and earnings of $164,272.
Small Bear finished a half-length in front of Snap Decision. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Holiday Stone in fourth. Blind Ambition finished a nose farther back in fifth.
The Better Talk Now was Pletcher's 33rd win of the meet, tying him with Chad Brown atop the trainer standings with a week to go in the Saratoga season.