Kevin Mattison/Recorder staff Captain Serious (pink saddle cloth), with Jose Ortiz up, stumbles out of the gate Saturday at the start of the Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. The No. 8 would finish third.
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A wicked speed duel materialized, and the late-running Coup de Grace came flying down the stretch to take the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for 3-year-old sprinters on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The Amsterdam, part of an 11-race card highlighted by the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, serves as a prelude to the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One King's Bishop on August 23 at Saratoga.
C. Zee and Big Guy Ian, equipped with blinkers for the first time, spurted away from the Amsterdam field in the opening stages of the race, setting a blistering pace of 21.87 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 44.45 for the half. Meanwhile, Coup de Grace settled willingly near the back of the pack for jockey Rosie Napravnik.
As the field turned for home, the dueling leaders were still in front, but an invigorated Coup de Grace swept three-wide into the stretch and stormed past the enervated pacesetters en route to a three-length victory.
The chestnut colt stopped the clock in a rapid 1:15.32 for the 6 1/2 furlongs.
"In his last two races he's found his style -- coming from off the pace and making one big run," said Coup de Grace's owner Rick Porter. "Rosie rode him perfectly today."
After his commanding performance in the Amsterdam, Coup de Grace is likely to make his next start in the seven-furlong King's Bishop, according to Porter.
"I don't know all the best 3-year-old sprinters in the country, but our numbers are good," said Porter. "We've got to keep him healthy and bring him back in four weeks [in the King's Bishop], hopefully. We'll find out how good he is."
Coup de Grace returned $5.70 on a $2 win bet and enhanced his career earnings to $408,100.
C. Zee held on for second, two lengths clear of 6-5 favorite Captain Serious, who loomed boldly in the stretch, but chased the top two in vain.
"It was a good spot," said Irad Ortiz, Jr., jockey aboard Captain Serious. "I came up a little empty by the three-sixteenths pole. My horse tried, but the winner -- the horses that finished first and second -- they ran extremely fast. He kept fighting and ran good."
John's Island, Casiguapo, Big Guy Ian and Tiznowforamerica rounded out the order of finish.
Rock Fall, 2-1 favorite on the morning line, and Noble Moon were scratched.