Cross Border adds Grade 2 on quick turnaround

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

Cross Border (right) earns Bowling Green victory after the DQ of Sadler’s Joy Saturday at Saratoga. Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law/The Saratoga Special

The connections of Cross Border weren’t crazy about the idea of running the son of English Channel back on short rest in Saturday’s Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

He’d just won, like just won, the inaugural Lubash Stakes 10 days before the 11-furlong Bowling Green and Kirk Wycoff didn’t mince words in the race preview that ran in Saturday’s edition of The Saratoga Special.

“We’re not big fans of running back on short rest but he ran very well in the Lubash and it wasn’t a particularly tough race,” Wycoff said.

Wycoff said much the same Saturday after Cross Border survived a tough race this time and emerged victorious in the Bowling Green after crossing the finish behind Sadler’s Joy before being elevated to the win via disqualification.

“This is just a gutsy New York bred and its good for the game that they can breed a New York-bred that can win a Grade 2 at Saratoga,” said Wycoff, the head of his family’s Three Diamonds Farm. “We love the Bowling Green. We were second in it three years ago with Bigger Picture. It was a calculated risk to come back in 10 days and we weren’t all in agreement, but Mike Maker made the decision and obviously it was the right one.”

The stewards made the decision to disqualify Sadler’s Joy from first to fourth after he and Javier Castellano caused interference in the stretch that affected Cross Border and fourth-placed finisher Channel Maker. After a long review, which also included a trainer and jockey objection from Mike Maker and Jose Ortiz, respectively, Cross Border’s number went up and he improved his Saratoga record to 5-for-5.

The victory also kept Three Diamonds atop the owner standing at Saratoga, providing a fifth win from 11 starts. They lead defending champ Klaravich Stable by one win and have two on Waterford Stable and Noda Brothers LLC heading into Sunday’s card.

“Look, we just love winning at Saratoga,” Wycoff said. “The first year back up here with any meaningful horses, we won seven and thought it was easy. Two years ago, we won zero. We’re thankful for every one. It’s impossible, really, for a small owner to compete for the owners’ title but we’ll make our mark.”

In its 13th consecutive season at Saratoga, the family-run stable has marked its way to the top.

The winners encompass Three Diamonds’ diversified approach to the sport.

Turbo Drive, an $80,000 2-year-purchase in 2019, paid $36.60 in a New York-bred allowance on the grass. Favorite Turn Of Events, a $50,000 horses-in-training sale recruit in 2019, won a New York-bred maiden claimer on the grass. Cross Border, a $100,000 horses-in-training purchase, dominated New York-breds in the Lubash and added the Bowling Green. Escape Fund, a $105,000 purchase at a 2-year-old sale in 2019, returned $71 in her debut in open company on the dirt.

Cross Border proved to be a project for Three Diamonds and Wycoff after they bought him at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July horses of racing age sale. He’d been off for more than a year before returning in late June 2019.

Cross Border finished second in his comeback going 6 furlongs on the grass at Belmont then shipped to Saratoga with Maker’s string and won three at the 2019 meet – a starter allowance at 1 1/16 miles July 19, state-bred allowance at 9 furlongs Aug. 11 and a state-bred optional at 9 furlongs again Aug. 29.

His state-bred conditions exhausted, Cross Border ventured mostly into graded stakes from there, finishing a close fifth in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont, sixth in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale in mid-December at Gulfstream and second in the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight at Gulfstream in late January in three of his next four before another break.

“It took a year. He was pretty tired coming out of Woodbine,” said Wycoff. “Like we do with all our older horses – we like to run them at 5, 6, 7 – he got a year off, he got the best treatment he could get at Bluewater in Kentucky and said when he was ready to run he was obviously ready because he won three at Saratoga last year.”

Wycoff said Cross Border could return for a third start again at Saratoga, possibly in back against New York-breds in the West Point Handicap on the Saratoga Showcase card late in the meet.

Foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Cross Border is out of the unraced Empire Maker mare Empress Josephine. Co-bred by Berkshire Stud, Empress Josephine produced two other foals – the 7-year-old winning Flatter mare Votre Coeur and the unraced 5-year-old Blame mare Blame Me Forever.


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