Another great Saratoga meeting has
ended and for me it was my favorite. I got to visit the Spa on three separate
occasions this summer. First
spending time at the Oklahoma training area for a few days in June and then two
trips for the racing, including my first Woodward Stakes. Covering the best
racing in the country for all of the readers at HRN is what made this such a
great meeting for me. I am not the only person that feels this way about
Saratoga, so let’s hear from some of the nations’s best trainers.
Kiaran McLaughlin, who won four grade
one stakes this summer said,
“The quality of racing here at Saratoga
is the best in the world. We’ve
had a terrific meet, the crowds have been fabulous, and the handle has been
Dale Romans, who does not hesitate to
run his horses at tracks all of the country, explained his feelings. “Saratoga
is the premier meet in the country, and I think this has been one of the best
meets in history. It’s been a very
exciting summer and the racing has held up very well. The atmosphere is great,
and all of the fans seem like they are having a great time and enjoying the
place. They keep coming back.”
Finally let’s hear from Todd Pletcher
who just won his ninth Saratoga training title. “It’s been a terrific meet, and
I’m sure a lot of it is a product of the increased purses. Increased purses bring better horses,
more interest, and higher handle. Any time that New York succeeds it’s good for
the industry. It’s been a great meet for fans, as well.”
No matter how you looked at the meeting
numbers, the results showed increases in purses, attendance, handle, and field
Daily average attendance for the meet
was 22,526, up 0.8 percent from 22,353 for the 39-day meet in 2011.
Daily average all-sources handle was
$14,708,799, up 9.0 percent from $13,493,636 last year. Total all-sources
handle was $588,351,964, an increase of 11.8 percent from $526,251,819 in 2011.
My top story of the meeting has to be Ramon Dominguez. Day in, day out, Ramon gives
a superior ride on every single mount. On two separate Sundays this summer
Dominguez won six out of seven races.
He won more than four races on six different occasions. Ramon won 68
races at Saratoga in 2012 and that is the most races ever won by a jockey at
the Spa. Ramon broke John Velazquez’s previous high of 64 (it should be noted
that Ramon had 4 additional days of racing).
Watch a video mash-up of Ramon’s first six-win day
From the very beginning it became clear
that the battle for leading trainer was between Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown. Pletcher won the race 36-29, but both
of them ended up in the 20/20 Club for trainers. Pletcher won 23 juvenile races,
21 of them in maiden events and Brown had more than 20 winners on the turf.
This was Pletcher’s ninth Saratoga
training title. He fell two short of his record 38 wins. Pletcher said, “We love Saratoga
and we try to emphasize the meet. We’ve been blessed with a lot of nice
2-year-olds this year. We felt like this summer the 2-year-olds were training
very well and we were coming in holding a strong hand. Until you get a bunch of
them running, you don’t know. When some of them start to win and their
workmates come up to run, you kind of get a good feel for it. We’re not
surprised, but we’re happy.”
Shanghai Bobby takes
the Hopeful for Pletcher’s 23rd juvenile winner
Gets a Three-Peat
Mike Repole won his third straight Saratoga
owner’s title using three different trainers. Repole won 13 races, seven with Pletcher, five with Bruce
Levine, and one with Michael Miceli. Repole’s Micromanage won a seven-furlong maiden race on the last Saturday of
the meet, which was the very same maiden race that Alpha won a year ago. “If
we can duplicate Alpha’s career with this horse, I think I’d be pretty
content,” said Repole.
Two horses had amazing two stake
performances. Kiaran McLaughlin won two of his four grade one stakes victories
with Questing. First Questing won
the Coaching Club American Oaks and then followed that up with one of the most
amazing efforts of the meeting. In the Alabama, Questing exploded to a speedy
Then the controversial trainer Rick Dutrow won two stakes races
within three days with the same horse, Willy Beamin. On Wednesday, August
22, he won the state-bred Albany Stakes and then Willy Beamin came right back
to take the grade one Forego with a jump of 13 in BSFs providing even more
reason for racing fans to share their feelings about Dutrow.
There may not have been a stellar field
in this year’s Travers, but the dead
heat finish between Alpha and Golden Ticket had the NYRA people
scrambling to deal with the double winners. They needed to paint two canoes for
the infield lake and two jockey statues for the track entrance. Two sets of
trophies had to be made. Two winner’s circle photos were taken. They even cut
the winner’s blanket of flowers in half so that each barn could decorate.
Saratoga is known as the place to
unveil the most fashionable two year-olds and this summer did not
disappoint. There was
Stonestreet’s terrific trio of fillies: Kauai Katie, Teen Pauline, and Dreaming of Julia. Pletcher unveiled
the most hyped horse of the year, as Archwarrior made a convincing six-furlong debut. Al Stall’s filly, Sign, romped to a very impressive first out victory. My Happy Face, who had finished second to Teen Pauline in her debut, more than
made up for her second place with a smashing 21¼ maiden win. Tony Dutrow’s So Many Ways remained undefeated in the
three tries by taking the grade one Spinaway.
Is it too soon to be looking forward to
next summer’s Saratoga meeting? In the meantime we have the Breeders’ Cup and
the 2013 Triple Crown to keep us amused until Tom Durkin let’s us join in the
announcing of the first race at the Spa in 2013.