Still a tough nut at eight, Weekend Hideaway captures second John Morrissey stakes

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

NYRA/Elsa Lorieul

Sarah Mace

Exactly one year ago, Red and Black Stable’s 8-year-old millionaire Weekend Hideaway (Speightstown), disappointed his connections. Winner of the 2014 John Morrissey Stakes for older New York-bred sprinters, Weekend Hideaway was training well and primed for a repeat.

As trainer Phil Serpe explained, “One year ago today, this horse was just as ready as he could be to run in this race and unfortunately, he grabbed his quarter. He abscessed, and we didn’t realize it until the morning of the race, because he was fine the day before. It really killed me to not see him run last year because I really felt like he was in a position to win.”

The popular runner more than made amends to Michael Hoffman of Red and Black Stable, Serpe and the rest of his fans at Saratoga on Thursday, when he beat an extremely salty Morrissey field to win the race for a second time. In Serpe’s word’s, “To come back and do this today was great.”

The race-day conditions suited the veteran to a tee. Weekend Hideaway loves off-going, winning five of 10 starts on a wet track, and there had been heavy rain overnight leaving the track in a muddy (sealed) condition. Weekend Hideaway also loves Saratoga, with four victories here in 10 tries. The fact that the multiple stakes winner was sent off as the fifth choice of seven at odds of 10-1 is only a testament to the strength of the field of stakes winners and graded stakes performers that the Morrissey attracted this year.

NYRA/Coglianese Photo

Aggressively handled from the bell under regular rider Luis Saez, Weekend Hideaway hooked up early from his outside post with fellow-speedster Eye Luv Lulu as the opening quarter went in 21.77.

Eye Luv Lulu backed out of the tussle along the backstretch and Weekend Hideaway was able to open up some daylight by the time field entered the far turn and the half ticked by in 43.93.

Gold For the King aimed for Weekend Hideaway in the turn, but to no avail and Weekend Hideaway was able to increase his advantage to two lengths in upper stretch, but his work was not yet done.

In the final stages, Eye Luv Lulu proved resurgent, while Celtic Chaos launched a strong bid at the rail. Digging in for the final push while shifting inward, Weekend Hideaway held on to secure the victory by 1 1/4 lengths. After six panels in 1:08.52, he stopped the clock after 6 1/2 furlongs at 1:15.18.

Eye Luv Lulu and Celtic Chaos finished noses apart in second and third, while completing the order of finish were Gold for the King, Mighty Zealous, favorite Long Haul Bay and T Loves a Fight. Runaway Lute was scratched in the paddock. Brad Cox, the trainer of Celtic Chaos lodged a trainer’s objection against Weekend Hideaway for interference in the final sixteenth, but no change was made to the order of finish. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“He loved the mud,” said Luis Saez. “I loved the way he ran today. When we broke, and I saw the speed was not that hot, I let him go and he was energetic. He ran hard in the stretch.”

Addressing the objection, Saez said, “I was on the lead and controlling the pace. When I came to the stretch, my horse came out a little, but I corrected him and tried to stay in my line. It looked like [Celtic Chaos] was coming, but he didn’t come with the fastest speed to get in the hole. I was there and never came out at that point and stayed in my line. I think the stewards made a good decision.”

Serpe, for his part, quipped, “We’ve seen good calls and calls we thought weren’t so good, I’m glad they left him up because I don’t have the money to pay the fines for cursing out every one of those stewards for taking this 8-year-old horse down from a race he deserved to win.”

Given Weekend Hideaway’s ability on wet tracks, Serpe also confessed he had something else on his mind once the rainy overnight and morning turned into a bright, sunny afternoon. “I was worried the track was drying out a little bit too much, because that sun’s been beating on it and its gone from pretty sloppy to muddy, so it was worrying me a little bit.”

The winner of at least one black type event every year since 2012, when he won a pair of stakes as a juvenile, Weekend Hideaway’s stakes tally is now nine, including a pair of wins in the $200,000 Commentator Stakes. His career best Beyer Speed Figure of 107 came in January 2015, when he dominated the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream, completing six furlongs in 1:08.64.

From 13 wins, seven seconds and nine thirds in 48 starts, Weekend Hideaway has earned $1,134,212.

Serpe summed up the case nicely: “Look, he’s a great horse. He does this stuff on his own and we’re just happy to be along with him.”

Bred by the late Carl Lizza’s Flying Zee Stables, for whom Serpe was a long-time trainer, and foaled at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, Weekend Hideaway was purchased by Michael Hoffman’s Red and Black Stable for $40,000 in the yearling portion of the Flying Zee Dispersal in October 2011.

He is one of only two foals produced by Apocalyptical, an unplaced New York-bred daughter of Wiseman’s Ferry. The mare’s other foal, Chosen One Elijah earned six figures.


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