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A New York State of Racing

The Best Performers of Saratoga 2014

V.E. Day Travers Heidi 615 X 400
Photo: Heidi E. Carpenter
Another great Saratoga meeting has come to an end. In total there were 33 graded stakes races with 15 of them being grade ones. In an attempt to recognize the best of this 40-day Spa meeting, I will pick the top performers in 10 divisions for the main track and the turf courses along with Top Jockey and Trainer.

The top Beyer Speed Figure of 108 was earned on three separate occasions: by Moreno in the Whitney, Itsmyluckyday in the Woodward, and Stonetastic in the Prioress.

Two-Year-Old Fillies: Fashion Alert was nothing but impressive as a
winner of the Schuylerville (G3) and her Belmont maiden special weight. Condo Commando did win twice at the Spa including her runaway Spinaway (G1) victory and she has a big edge in BSFs over Fashion Alert 92-68.

Two-Year-Old Males: Competitive Edge won two races at Saratoga: a 10¼ length maiden score and the Hopeful (G1) over Saratoga Special (G2) winner, I Spent It. Competitive Edge is a $750,000 two-year-old auction purchase from the first crop of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver.

Three-Year-Old Males: The duo of Wicked Strong and V. E. Day won three of the stakes for this division with the Curlin, the Jim Dandy, and the Travers. The nod has to go to V. E. Day because he won two stakes at the Spa including the big one, the Travers (G1).

Three-Year-Old Fillies: By winning the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and the Alabama (G1) Stopchargingmaria did everything that was asked of her.

Older Male: In the Woodward (G1) Itsmyluckyday turned the tables on Moreno after finishing second to him in the Whitney (G1). The Woodward trumps the Whitney and Lucky gets the edge.

Older Female: Close Hatches turned in maybe the most impressive performance of the meeting in the Personal Ensign (G1).

Turf Male: Main Sequence’s win in the Sword Dancer (G1) put him on top until Wise Dan made his comeback in the Bernard Baruch (G2). Giving the seven-year-old all the respect that he deserves for his comeback from the bout with colic, Wise Dan is my pick for top Turf Male.

Turf Female: Somali Lemonade won the Diana (G1) and Abaco took the Ballston Spa (G2) with identical 96 BSFs. Tough choice here, but Somali_Lemonade won the grade one.

Sprint Male: Theformer $20,000 claimer, Palace, dominated this division by sweeping the Vanderbilt (G1) and the Forego (G1).

Sprint Female: With a different horse winning all of the sprints for females, Stonetastic’s 8½ length win in the Prioress (G2), that earned a 108 BSF, is tops even though she is just a three-year-old.

Top Trainer: Todd Pletcher won his fifth straight training title and 11th overall after again battling with Chad Brown. It was a meeting of ups and downs for Pletcher, "I thought we had a really good start to the meet, I thought we had some really big disappointments at the meet; way too many seconds (25 through race 5 on Monday) for my liking. At the same time you cannot not be grateful anytime you come to Saratoga and win 26, 27 races, win the Hopeful, Coaching Cub, Alabama and Schuylerville. No matter how good you do, it could always be better, no matter how bad you're doing it could always be worse."

However, my choice for Top Trainer is Jimmy Jerkens. Jerkens battled back from some very difficult years to have a stellar summer with nine wins out of 29 mounts for a meet leading 32%. Training the first and second place finishers in the Travers (G1) earned him this recognition.

Top Jockey: Javier Castellano won his second riding title in a row defeating Irad Ortiz, Jr. 58 to 53. To win a title against the best riding colony in the world is a stellar achievement. The final top 10: Javier 58, Irad 53, John Velazquez 38, Joel Rosario 33, Jose Ortiz 30, Rajiv Maragh 21, Cornelio Velasquez 18, Rosie Napravnik 18, Junior Alvarado 18, and Jose Lezcano 17.


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 Meet Matt Shifman 

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. 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.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

• Preakness Interview with Trainer Todd Pletcher

• Kentucky Derby 2016 Handicapping Tips from A to Z


• Edison: the Travels of a Million Dollar Colt 

• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



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