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Program Trading Fends Off Webslinger in Saratoga Derby

With each start, Program Trading ‘s stock continues to climb.

A first-out winner at Monmouth Park against maidens in May, the 3-year-old Lope de Vega  ridgling took an allowance optional claiming race the following month at Belmont Park, and Aug. 5 he stepped way up to top-level stakes company and was triumphant. Fending off a bid from Webslinger, Klaravich Stables’ talented sophomore proved a resilient winner of the $600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course, taking the race by a head after he was passed in midstretch.

Program Trading was up to the task Saturday, winning after controlling the 1 3/16-mile turf race through fractions of :23.74, :49.59, 1:14.41, and 1:38.74 over yielding turf that had been softened by rain the previous day. As the field came into the lane, Program Trading was quickly reeled in by American Turf Stakes (G2T) winner Webslinger , who closed from seventh in the early stages under Javier Castellano to poke his head in front in midstretch.

But the Chad Brown-trained Program Trading found the necessary energy in the final furlong under stout urging from Flavien Prat to battle back and win a photo finish.

Watch: Program Trading Nabs the Saratoga Derby

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“He was very happy on the lead and that horse on the outside made a move and got the jump on me and I couldn’t get him to go as much as I wanted to, but once he got the target, he really was game,” Prat said.

Speaking of the top two finishers, “Both ran their guts out,” Webslinger’s trainer Mark Casse said.

Favored Far Bridge  rallied to finish third, a length and a half behind runner-up Webslinger, with an even finish late. Battle of Normandy  was another 2 3/4 lengths back in fourth.

Program Trading was timed in 1:56.63. He returned $9.20 for a $2 win wager.

“This horse really dug in and showed a lot of heart. It’s only his third start moving right into a major race like this. We always thought he had the ability,” Brown said. “He probably had the advantage of fresh legs so to speak, because the horses that were behind him have had long seasons and such, but he did have some inexperience he overcame.”

Brown and Seth Klarman of Klaravich Stables notched their second victory in the Saratoga Derby, having previously won the race with Domestic Spending  in 2020. 

Like Domestic Spending, Program Trading was purchased by bloodstock agent Mike Ryan as a yearling from the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. The Fittocks Stud & Arrow Farm Stud-bred ridgling was bought for the equivalent of $356,551 from the Fittocks Stud consignment. 

He is the first stakes winner produced from the Oasis Dream  mare Dreamlike  from five foals of racing age.

The Saratoga Derby was the second leg of the New York Racing Association’s Turf Triple. Far Bridge won the opening leg when he took the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) July 8. The closing race in the series is the 1 3/8-mile, $500,000 Jockey Club Derby Invitational Stakes (G3T) Oct. 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Saturday’s race also provided the winner an automatic berth into one of Australia’s top races, the AU$5 million Cox Plate (G1) Oct. 28. 

Brown was noncommital about pursuing the Jockey Club Derby this fall, saying he wanted to “enjoy” Saturday’s win and adding, “I’m hoping to have this horse for many years down the road.” 

Video: Saratoga Derby Invitational S. (G1T)

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