One race after being caught late in the Gr1 Whitney Stakes by Honor Code, Liam’s Map led at every call in the $600,000 Gr1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, before drawing off to earn his first Gr1 victory by 4 3/4 lengths as the 6-5 favourite in the 1800m contest.
“The Whitney was as tough a loss as you’ll experience. He ran an unbelievable race that day and everything he indicated to us from that time until today was that he was ready to come back over and put forth another big effort,” winning trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I’m just happy to see him get that grade I that he deserves so much.”
The connections and backers of Liam’s Map certainly were taking nothing for granted after watching Honor Code rally in the stretch and edge them by a neck in the Whitney, but they had to be feeling good when the 4-year-old colt and jockey Javier Castellano enjoyed a clear lead through a half-mile in :47.49 and six furlongs in 1:10.94.
The half-mile time was 1.49 seconds slower than what Liam’s Map ran in the Whitney, also a 1 1/8-mile race he led early, and 1.22 seconds slower than his six-furlong pace.
“The opening fractions were very much in his favor, and he has that style where he can get into a cruising speed and just keep carrying it,” Pletcher said. “The thing that he did after he went that 47 1/5 is he came back with another 23 and change to go 1:10 and change, and then 1:34 and change (1:34.97). He just gets into that rhythm and he just runs horses off their feet.”
“When I got to the lead and dictated the pace, by the half-mile, he began to relax and I was thinking I could win the race,” Castellano said. “Liam’s Map put in a great effort today.”
Never seriously threatened, Liam’s Map, by Unbridled’s Song, was followed home by stablemate Coach Inge. GrI winner Wicked Strong finished third
Pletcher also was pleased with Coach Inge, who earned his first Gr1 placing.
“I’ll tell you, Coach Inge ran unbelievable. It was a super, super effort,” Pletcher said. “Good enough to win a lot of Woodwards.”
Bred in Kentucky by Albaugh Family Stable, Liam’s Map was making just his third start of the season Saturday but he has won five of his seven career efforts and finished second in his two career losses.
St. Elias Stables purchased Liam’s Map for $800,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale from the consignment of Taylor Made Sales Agency.
Liam’s Map is out of the Gr3 – winning Trippi mare Miss Macy Sue, who also has produced stakes winner Taylor S, by Medaglia d’Oro.