Darley Stable opened the meet with something to celebrate as their promising juvenile Desert Party easily won the Sanford Stakes GII going six furlongs on a sloppy main track with jockey Edgar Prado in the irons. The bay colt broke a bit slowly but moved up close to the pace on the rail along the backstretch. Approaching the turn, he was crowded by the pacesetter and was forced to take back a couple of lengths, but turning for home he found room again on the rail and glided through at the top of the stretch, drawing away to an effortless win by 3 ¼ lengths at the wire.
The Street Cry son won for the second time in as many starts and validated his hefty price tag of $2.1 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton 2-Year-Old in Training Sale by following his impressive debut win on June 22 at Arlington with today’s stakes victory. He was sent off as the 4 to 5 favorite after the field scratched down to four horses due to heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday. Trainer Eoin Harty was watching the skies all day with a degree of pessimism and had entered the horse in the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday as a backup plan, but the weather cleared long enough during the day and Harty considered the Saratoga surface sound enough to handle the moisture and still remain safe.
"The track was remarkably good for the amount of rain we had," Harty said. "The horse was very professional. He had every reason to get beat, getting shut off like that going into the 3/8 pole. He’s a good colt."
Desert Party was bred in Kentucky by David Smith and Steven Sinatra and is out of the Tabasco Cat mare Sage Cat. Harty indicated that he will be pointed toward the Hopeful Stakes GI on September 1st.