SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York (CMC):
Rajiv Maragh opened the day's racing with a thrilling, narrow victory in the US$80,000 Paris Opera Stakes on Saturday's 12-race card at the Saratoga Racecourse.
The Jamaican jockey propelled the 5-1 third choice Sugar Again to victory by a head, to spoil the highly anticipated American debut of the French-bred, 3-1 second choice Deluxe, under Eddie Castro, in the first race on the card.
Sugar Again, a four-year-old chestnut filly, finished 1,600 metres on the firm inner turf in a time of one minute, 35.32 seconds - 1.90 seconds outside the track record.
It was the 19th stakes victory for Maragh this year on the American circuit, making him the most successful jockey in added-money events for the year in either Canada or the United States.
He is also fifth in the jockeys' standings on 21 wins behind John Velazquez (52), Javier Castellano (50), Ramon A. Dominguez (44), and Julien R. Leparoux (27) in the summer season of racing which ends today.
Maragh settled Sugar Again nicely in the middle of the pack on the outside before making a bold move to rush into the lead.
He inched his mount clear on the far turn, swung four wide into the stretch and put Sugar Again to a strong hand drive.
Maragh rallied Sugar Again to the outside under a right-handed whip, closed strongly to get the lead entering the final 100 metres then just held off Deluxe for his mount's ninth career victory.
Later, Maragh grabbed a one-length victory astride the 7-1 chance Dubai Rainbow in the 11th race with a purse of US$29,120.