Bobby Zen

The outside-drawn gelding whose change-of-plans entry made it a foursome in Saturday’s GIII Dwyer S. at Aqueduct has quite a bit going for him despite being ranked as the longest shot at 4-1 on the morning line.

The cleverly and elegantly named Save the Trees (by Preservationist out of the Forestry mare Canopy Lane) sports a 2-for-2 record, an adversity-overcoming, off-the-pace style, and a $335,000 auction price that was third-highest at Keeneland’s Apr. 26 Horses of Racing Age (HORA) sale conducted after the final race of the spring meet.

That’s an eye-catching HORA tag for a gelding who hammered for $23,000 at KEESEP and didn’t debut until Apr. 19 of his 3-year-old year.

The chestnut with the big white blaze got no true betting support in that first career start at Keeneland 2 1/2 months ago, going off at 12-1 for trainer Wayne Mackey and the estate of Brereton C. Jones, who died last September.

The gelding had an awkward start in that six-furlong maiden allowance, was last by 15 lengths for a good portion of the trip, and still could see ’em all at the quarter pole.

But all the while Save the Trees was building serious momentum, and despite being widest off the turn and seven lengths in arrears at the eighth pole, Keeneland announcer Kurt Becker began to pick up on the wave as it crested into a winning move.

“Save the Trees is making an incredible rally!” Becker enthused, punctuating his usually reserved race call with emphatic astonishment. “Save the Trees broke absolutely last! Passed everyone down the stretch to win for [jockey] Luan Machado!”

Machado was hand-riding Save the Trees at the end of that three-quarter length victory (74 Beyer Speed Figure). The race has since yielded three other next-out winners.

One week after that score, Airdrie Stud consigned Save the Trees to the HORA sale on behalf of the Jones estate.

Harvey Diamond, a retired Louisville physician who is the founder and racing manager for the Skychai Racing syndicate, had trainer Mike Maker submit the spare-no-expense winning bid.

“He’s a beautiful horse, and he ran just an unbelievable race to break his maiden first time out at Keeneland,” Diamond told TDN Thursday. “That was kind of a ‘Wow!’ race, and we were impressed. One of my partners just loved him so much, was going to be willing to go to whatever [price] to get him. I think he has a lot of class, and he likes to win, obviously.”

Now racing for a partnership that includes Skychai, Paradise Farms, David Staudacher, and Hot Pink Stable, Save the Trees was the 1.43-1 favorite in start number two, a $50,000 starter-allowance at Churchill Downs June 9.

Going six furlongs under Jose Ortiz, Save the Trees rated near the back and rallied into an early-speed setup with a relentless, five-wide drive. Again not fully extended under the wire, the gelding won by 2 3/4 lengths (79 Beyer).

“He stumbled out of the gate that very first race,” Diamond said. “That ended up being a key race. In his second race, he broke better out of the gate. He stayed with the field and moved when he needed to. I understand it was a field of $50,000 starters, but it was a pretty good field. The purses are pretty good there, so we get tough horses at Churchill.”

Earlier this week, Maker entered Save the Trees in the 1 1/16-miles $250,000 Iowa Derby, which is also on Saturday. But Diamond said drawing the second-outermost post in that 11-horse field made committing to the Dwyer a viable Plan B.

The Iowa Derby would have been the two-turn debut for Save the Trees. The Dwyer’s purse is $50,000 less, but it offers graded-stakes status and is a one-turn mile that might mesh better with the gelding’s progression arc considering he’s stretching out from two sprints.

“It was a case of how far you’ve got to travel, number one,” Diamond said. “Number two, we drew the 10 hole out at Prairie Meadows, and that was not the best spot to be out there. I think the Dwyer, even though it’s a very tough field, it’s only four horses, [and] favorable to be on the outside there, I guess.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the mount.

The rest of the Dwyer field, in morning-line order, is the 6-5 Domestic Product (Practical Joke), who was 13th when losing a shoe and grabbing a quarter in the GI Kentucky Derby and subsequently second in the $150,000 Pegasus S.; the 8-5 Billal (Street Sense), a two-time winner who is 0-for-4 in stakes but owns the highest Beyer in the field (93); plus the 7-2 Hades (Awesome Slew), who upset the GIII Holy Bull S. back in February and was most recently third in the Pegasus.

The post Save the Trees Aims Higher in Dwyer appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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