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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Saratoga 2012 ... It's a Wrap!

Photo finish of 2012 Travers dead heat between Alpha and Golden Ticket.
Photo: NYRA
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 great.”
 
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 sizes.
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.
 
RRRRRRRRRRRRRamon
 
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
 
20/20 Club
 
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
 
Repole 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.
 
Back to Back
 
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 nine-length victory.
 
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.
 
Double the Fun
 
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.
 
Baby, Baby, Baby
 
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. 

 

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Older Comments about Saratoga 2012 ... It's a Wrap!...

Brian, I thought you'd go with your boy Steamin' Willie Beamin as your horse of the meet. He's not the fast 3yo in his barn, I'd give Alpha the nod. 2 time G1 winner at the meet & part of only "official" dead heat in Travers history.
I love the two year-olds. I got to see Dreaming of Julia, Kauai Katie, and My Happy Face win, so that was special. I think Archwarrior and Sign will make some noise down the road. My Miss Aurelia was superb, too!
Who's your Horse of the Meet, Matt? ... I'm thinking Questing.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

 

Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

 

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