Gill Johnston’s Cite, always in good position in Sunday’s $65,000 allowance hurdle, wore down front-running Repeat Repeat through Saratoga Race Course’s stretch and won by a half-length under Willie McCarthy.
Petticoats Loose Stable’s Gaye Breeze, one of the 2 1/16-mile race’s longshots at 15-to-1, made up ground on the final run down Saratoga’s backstretch and seized third place, 2¼ lengths behind Repeat Repeat and 3 ¼ lengths clear of Roller Rolls On in fourth.
Zeppelin Ride finished fifth, and 9-to-10 favorite Markham finished sixth after an eventful trip.
Sunday’s allowance hurdle had been postponed from Wednesday, when persistent rains led New York Racing Association officials to cancel the race. They decided immediately to add the jump race to Sunday’s 13-race program, which included many races postponed from Saturday because of high temperatures and humidity.
Bon Nouvel Chasers’ Repeat Repeat came away from the start in good order, and jockey Kieran Norris put him on an open-length lead with Lee Pokoik’s Roller Rolls On and Cite in his immediate wake.
Ross Geraghty, aboard Rosbrian Farm’s Markhan, took the inside route and had the Birdstone six-year-old well placed down the backstretch the first time.
Whitman’s Poetry, owned by DASH Stable, was well back through the early fences and jumped the fifth fence, opposite Saratoga’s grandstand, without problem. But within a few strides he clipped the heels of Markhan and dislodged jockey Michael Mitchell.
With Repeat Repeat maintaining his lead by a clear length, a riderless Whitman’s Poetry continued to run with the field and again clipped the heels of Markhan at the seventh fence, the first on the backstretch run. Whitman’s Poetry fell but quickly regained his feet and was caught by Saratoga’s outriders.
The incidents appeared to take the run out of the normally explosive Markhan, who drifted to the back of the field.
After the final fence on the backstretch, Cite and McCarthy took aim on Repeat Repeat, who continued to run well on the front end and showed no sign of retreat. Under his rider’s strong and insistent hand ride, Cite gradually overtook Repeat Repeat inside the furlong pole and edged away to the finish line.
Repeat Repeat, trained by Julie Gomena, never was threatened by Gaye Breeze, who is trained by Petticoats Loose owner Meriwether Morris.
Cite, sent off as the 6-to-1 third betting choice, ran the 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:51.52 on firm turf. He paid $14 for a $2 win bet.
Cite’s victory was the 25th of the year for Jack Fisher, who is on the verge of sealing his eighth consecutive champion trainer title. His total for the season’s first four months exceeds his total of 22 victories for all of last season.
Cite collected his first victory since a maiden win at the 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase. He made only one subsequent jumps start last year, in a division the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices, and was pulled up.
He opened the 2019 campaign with fourth-place finishes in nonwinners-of-two allowance hurdles at the Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring before a fall at the last in a similar Iroquois allowance in which Whitman’s Poetry finished second and Repeat Repeat was third.
The Blame six-year-old, bred by frequent partners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, is no stranger to Saratoga. Before his jumps career, he was trained by Hall of Fame member Bill Mott. At four, he won a Saratoga turf allowance under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
Sunday’s allowance victory increased Cite’s 2019 earnings to $42,400. Fisher’s stable earnings for the year rose to $843,450. McCarthy collected his fourth win of the season.