News and STORIES

Crystalle Takes P.G. Johnson Stakes

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Friday August 30, 2019
Tobey Morton and Chuck Hovitz’s Crystalle crossed the line first in the $100,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday. She ran a much better race after having her maiden-breaking debut stripped away because of a disqualification. She ran with Sweet Melania to the wire but was able to pull ahead and finish first. 

The Race

Crystalle broke from post 6 as the 8/5 favorite on the day, and jockey Joel Rosario was aboard the horse. Crystalle and Rosario trailed the field early on as they headed into the clubhouse turn. Apurate was able to move up front, and Ginseng was alongside her. Those two set opening fractions of :23.29, :47.19, and 1:11.44. 

As the field headed into the far turn, Ginseng, who was now running on the outside, decided to challenge the first-place spot. At the same time, Crystalle was staying in the rear, but she started to move up as they reached the top of the stretch. 

Ginseng was not able to take over the first spot, but Sweet Melanie did and moved past Apurate running three-wide. At that point, it seemed like Sweet Melania was going to be the winner

As the field reached the 1/16 pole, Crystalle continued to move up and made it alongside Sweet Melania’s outside. 

As those two rushed up to the wire, Crystalle was able to move a neck ahead of Sweet Melania to take the win. She completed the 11/16-mile event over the firm turf course with a final time of 1:41.36. 

Rosario spoke about the horse’s performance after the race. 

“She came with a nice run in the end,” Rosario said. “She ran a big race on the turf last time, and she keeps proving herself. She was more professional today. She knows what she’s doing up there. It was a pretty strong run. It looks like she has a bright future, so we’ll see what happens.”

Crystalle is trained by John Kimmel. 

The Rest of the Field

English Breeze was able to close well but was not able to make it past the winner and came within 1/2-length of Sweet Melania to finish in third. Ginseng and Apurate couldn’t hold on, and they ended up falling back to fourth and fifth. Lively Kitten and Lucky Jungle followed those two to complete the order to finish. 

Sunset Promise was a scratch on the day. 

Crystalle’s Career

Crystalle won a $55,000 share of the purse on Thursday. Her career earnings are now at $65,800

According to Kimmel, it took him some time to learn whether Crystalle would like the grass.

“She had been getting out-footed with some of the sharp 2-year-old colts, and I figured if I sprinted her on the dirt, she was going to get a facial and a bad experience,” Kimmel said. “We took her one day, breezed her on the turf, and she did real well. Then we ran her in that race, not really knowing what to expect. She didn’t have much early speed, but she did have a good late kick. That’s a good thing to have.”

Morton purchased the Palace Malice 2-year-old filly in April for $220,000

“We’re thinking about Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies Turf [G1]),” Kimmel said. “Now, we’ll probably point to the Miss Grillo (Stakes [G2] on Sept. 29 at Belmont Park) and take it from there.”

Crystalle paid $5.30 to win, $3 to place, and $2.60 to show. Sweet Melania returned $3.70 to place and $2.90 to show, while English Breeze paid $3 to show.