SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Monday’s inaugural running of the $100,000 Shakespeare Caress Stakes was sponsored by William Schettine’s Signature Stallions. So it was only fitting that the race was won by Schettine’s Rosa Salvaje, one of only two New York-breds in the field, who held off a late bid from Holiday for Kitten to register a game neck decision as the second longest price in the field at odds of 19-1.
The race was marred when the longest shot on the board, the 45-1 Page Springs, lost her rider after her saddle slipped midway down the backstretch of the 5 1/2-furlong overnight turf stakes.
Rosa Salvaje, a 4-year-old daughter of Chapel Royal, had not started since winning a mid-level optional claiming and allowance race for Schettine and trainer Lisa Lewis at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 16. But the speedy filly was fit and ready for her return.
With regular rider Alex Solis aboard, Rosa Salvaje stalked the pace of Ballistic Sue, overtook that rival nearing the eighth pole, edged clear then held off a late try from Holiday for Kitten. Zermatt, who steadied briefly to avoid the loose horse down the backstretch, rallied from last down the middle of the course to be third. Well Deserved, the 8-5 favorite, faded to sixth after forcing the early pace.
By virtue of Rosa Salvaje’s victory, Schettine earned the $60,000 winner’s share of the purse as well as breeding rights to one of his own stallions, either Shakespeare or another Signature-owned stallion at either its Kentucky or Florida farm.
Rosa Salvaje paid $41.40 after completing the distance in 1:03.50 over a “good” course.
“I think the filly runs well off the layoff,” said Lewis. “She was ready to run at Woodbine and then we decided to try and point her for this race. I trained her very hard coming into it, I felt she was ready and doing terrific, and we thought it was worth coming down here to try and win his own race.”
Lewis said Rosa Salvaje suffered a bad foot abscess after her win at Gulfstream in January and that it took her a long time to “get her right again.” She also said she was concerned when her filly was outrun for the lead during the early stages of the Shakespeare Caress.
“She’s won mostly on the lead, so when she lost the lead I thought, well, that’s why you have Alex Solis,” said Lewis.