SARATOGA SPRINGS — El Deal was the real deal in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.
The morning-line favorite A. P. Indian was a late scratch in the middle of the afternoon, and it may not have made a difference if he had run.
El Deal, trained by Jorge Navarro and ridden for the first time ever by Javier Castelllano, rocketed out of the gate and away from the field for an eight-length victory in the Grade I sprint.
It was his third straight win since coming to Navarro’s barn.
“He is a fast horse, and I took advantage of that,” Castellano said. “I never rode the horse before, and he [Navarro] told me, ‘Break at the gate, don’t look back, he’s a fast horse. Use the horse’s skill and let him roll. He’s one-dimensional,’ and that’s exactly what I did, I followed instructions and enjoyed the ride.”
“That’s why we’re here, to see what kind of horse he is,” Navarro said. “I think I did the right thing by taking him to all those tracks and prepping him there. I called the owners and said I thought it was time to see what we have, and he proved it.”
After racing five straight times at Gulfstream Park since last August, El Deal raced at Charles Town in West Virginia in his first start for Navarro in April, then won at Monmouth Park in New Jersey in June. In 16 career starts, the Vanderbilt was just El Deal’s second graded stakes try.
“We’re getting ready for the Breeders’ Cup, so I thought it was time to see what he’s about,” Navarro said. “I guess he is what he is.”
A. P. Indian won this race as well as the Forego last year, but…
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