For as long as he can remember, Mike Amendola would tag along with his father, Robert, on trips to the racetrack to watch his dad’s horses run.
They visited numerous tracks together, but Saratoga Race Course was a special place for them.
So, there was surely a bright burst of emotion Aug. 24 under dark skies at the Spa when Amendola stood in the winner’s circle with Evvie Jets after the $300,000 Ballston Spa Stakes (G2T) and reminisced about his late dad, who passed away in November at the age of 79.
“They are all emotional but this is a good one,” he said. “We’ve had some nice wins up here but this one tops it.”
Running for The Estate of Robert J. Amendola, Evvie Jets provided the Amendola family with their fourth graded stakes win since 2000—two of them registered by her—by emerging along the inside in mid-stretch and then holding off Fluffy Socks to score by a head in the about 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares.
“She showed so much heart,” Amendola said. “She’s a fighter.”
A daughter of the Consolidator mare Natchez Trace, Evvie Jets was bought for $75,000 from the Hidden Brook consignment at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Trained by Mertkan Kantarmaci, the Ballston Spa continued a pattern of either a win or a sixth-place finish in her fifth 2023 outing. A winner of the Plenty of Grace Stakes to start the year, she was then sixth in the Beaugay Stakes (G3T). That was followed by a win in the Perfect Sting Stakes before a sixth in the De La Rose Stakes and Thursday’s win at 29-1 odds.
“Since the first day we took care of her like a stakes winner because I knew she would reach this level,” Kantarmaci said about the 5-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy who is his lone graded stakes winner in seven years of training and has won 7 of 22 starts with earnings of $698,680. “We wanted to go step by step with her but now she’s extra special after what she did here. It’s unbelievable what she did.”‘
Evvie Jets was a front-running winner of the Plenty of Grace and Perfect Sting but rallied from fifth under Manny Franco, who replaced the injured Luis Saez.
The pace was set by 55-1 longshot Sister Bridget , who sprinted away from 6-5 favorite Technical Analysis to lead by three lengths after a half-mile in :48.67 on firm turf. Technical Analysis took over from the inside after six furlongs in 1:13.88 but could not pull away.
In midstretch, six of the eight distaff runners were lined up across the track and it was Evvie Jets along the inside who was moving fastest. From the back, Fluffy Socks and the European shipper Jumbly had the most kick, but could not reel in the mare bred by Farfellow Farms in Kentucky who covered the distance in 1:43.06 and paid $60.50 to win.
Fluffy Socks, a Head of Plains Partners homebred daughter of Slumber , was second for trainer Chad Brown by a head over Jumbly, a Gleneagles filly trained by Joseph O’Brien for Doreen Tabor.
Brown, who was bidding for an eighth Ballston Spa win, settled for a fifth by favored Technical Analysis and a troubled sixth by Consumer Spending among his three starters.
Winner of the Noble Damsel Stakes (G3T) a year ago, she may target the Oct. 7 First Lady Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland next.
Edited from www.bloodhorse.com