21-year-old Liam Benson, son of breeder Liam F. Benson and current student at University of Louisville (Equine Industry Program), was hoping for what would be the biggest win of his short training career with Expected Ruler in the $100,000 Quick Call Stakes for three-year-old grass sprinters at Saratoga Race Course.
Not only was Benson on the hunt for a Saratoga win but also his first visit in the winner’ circle at the historic upstate track.
“It would be on another level,” said Benson. “It’s Saratoga. The name speaks for itself. The atmosphere, the town, and the backstretch have history everywhere, and to be an ant in the whole grand scheme of it all would be unbelievable.
“I get that it’s only a $100,000 stakes, but to win it would be everything right now. Even if we hit the board, I’ll be over the moon. I’m at Saratoga for a stakes race with a horse that has a shot. That’s stuff you grow up thinking and dreaming about.”
Unfortunately, unlike their 47-1 upset win in last summer’s Tyro Stakes at Saratoga, it was not meant to be. Expected Ruler came in fourth place at the $100,000 Quick Call Stakes. 8-5 favorite Holding Gold took down the event. Jockey Mark Casse, inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame the day before, was atop Holding Gold. They finished the race in a winning time of 1:01.84 and returned $4.80 on a $2 wager.
“He’s a pretty nice horse,” said Casse. “My biggest concern was a little bit of the cutback, but I felt pretty good down the backside we were only a length or two behind. He’s a home-bred for Mrs. Weber so that makes it even more special.”