Shipping to Saratoga after winning his debut race at Churchill Downs just three weeks prior, Bitumen is on a roll in the best way possible after an impressive win in the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (III) for two-year-olds.

Historically a top juvenile stakes race won by some of racing’s greats ranging from Man o’ War in the 1920s to Affirmed in the 70s, the son of Mineshaft faced a short field with only four other horses competing, but won the six-furlong test with style. Breaking belatedly from the five-post, Bitumen set off on a relaxed early start as Zartera set off on early fractions of :22.19 and :45.79 on a hot muggy day at the Spa. Headed by second choice Random Walk turning for home, Zartera traded the lead off just as Bitumen was beginning to roll and the two were heads apart battling down the stretch. Hitting his victorious stride late after heading four-wide into the stretch, Bitumen put away Random Walk to snap up the Sanford by 1 3/4 lengths under Javier Castellano.

Now 2-for-2, the $280,000 two-year-old OBS March graduate has banked $117,900 for owner Joseph W. Sutton and has delighted his connections.

“I’m delighted with the performance,” said Kenneally. “He ran really, really well. He got a great education today because he was in behind and took so much dirt. He overcame that and that goes to show how much class he has. He’s a really nice horse. He galloped out good and ran a huge race. Today was a great foundation and education and will help him going forward.”

“He was very professional the way he did it,” said Castellano. “Handling the dirt very well – three horses up on the lead with a lot of kickback, it hit him for the first time in the face. You kind of anticipate he wouldn’t like it much, but he went through it. He figured it out really quick and turning for home he gave me great acceleration. Very professional.”

Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Bitumen returned a conservative $3.90 to $2 win bettors while completing the six-furlong race in 1:10.98.

Second choice Random Walk was second, followed by Zartera who issued an unsuccessful inquiry against Random Walk. Following in order of finish were Bronson and Bay Numbers.

Top photo of Bitumen courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese