Aug. 9, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Irish horse trainer Joseph O’Brien carried out a successful raid on the New York racing scene Saturday as State of Rest powered home to victory in the Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes.
The 28-year-old, who is part of the O’Brien racing dynasty and is the son of Aidan, scooped the $630,000 first prize purse with his 21/1 outsider.
The win adds to O’Brien’s previous lofty Grade One wins that include the Melbourne Cup, Irish Derby and Breeders’ Cup.
State of Rest started slowly and, rather than going to the front as planned, jockey John Velazquez smartly tucked him in mid-field to save ground.
Bunched in the middle of the pack turning the final bend, Velazquez etched his way to the front and then bolted ahead to cross the finish line with a length to spare in the 1 3/16 miles race.
He held off second-placed Soldier Rising and Du Jour in third.
“I thought Johnny [Velazquez] gave him a fantastic ride,” O Brien said afterward. “The pace was pretty strong and he got him comfortable and came home strong. We knew he would like the firm turf and getting more distance today.”
“He was unlucky not to win his last race. He ran really well and we knew that getting more distance today would suit him well. We’ll get him home and talk to the owners and see how he is and see where we go next.
State of Rest is owned by Teme Valley Racing. The win was a major step up for the 3-year-old colt who had only one previous victory and had never run in a Group One event back home.
“He ran well the last time and we were figuring out where we could go with him,” O’Brien added.
“We figured this was a lovely spot and that the conditions would suit him well. We weren’t sure how he would handle this level and he had never been around these turns before, but he handled everything really well.”
Velazquez said that he was initially concerned about the horse’s attitude before the off.
“The horse is actually a very, very nice horse and he was not really paying attention out in the post parade so I was a little bit worried that his mind wasn’t on the business and that’s what he did,” Velazquez said.
“He didn’t break very well. I didn’t panic. I just saved all the ground, looking for somewhere to go down the stretch and when I got him out, he responded really good.”
O’Brien is a former Irish champion jockey and in 2012 he rode Camelot to win the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby.
He trains out of Owning Hill near Piltown in County Kilkenny where his grandfather Joe Crowley previously trained horse’s. Joseph’s parents. Annemarie and Aidan, were both crowned Irish Champion National Hunt Trainers while based there.
Aidan currently heads up the Ballydoyle racing operation in County Tipperary and is one of Ireland’s best ever horse trainers.
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