I was fortunate to
attend 10 of the 40 racing days at Saratoga during this summer of 2013. It was
a Saratoga summer with unusually dry and mild weather. Very few races came off
the turf and very few races were run on wet tracks. The typical hot
temperatures and humid air were absent and so were the late afternoon
During this 150th
anniversary year celebration there were a total of 33 graded stakes races run
at the Spa. Below you will find the chart that I kept all meeting that includes
the winners of all those races and their Beyer Speed Figures.
The Star of the Meeting
Princess of Sylmar was the only horse to win two grade one stakes
during the meeting. She backed up her victory in the Kentucky Oaks by first
winning the Coaching Club American Oaks in July and then the Alabama in August.
Those three impressive triumphs have locked up the three year-old filly
championship for the Princess and her owner Eddie Stanco.
And the Co-Stars
Dance to Bristol came to Saratoga having won five races in a row and she became a star
after adding two graded stakes to that streak. First she overcame traffic to
get a close victory in the Honorable Miss on July 29th and she came
back less than a month later to win the grade one Ballerina.
John Velazquez became the all-time leader in wins at Saratoga when the jockey
visited the Spa winner’s circle for the 694th time. With that
victory on July 24th, Johnny V. passed fellow Hall of Famer Jerry
Royal Delta won the Personal Ensign after a second place finish in that race last
year. Trainer Bill Mott brought her to Saratoga off a win in the Delaware
Handicap. Clearly she is headed to the Breeders’ Cup to defend her title in the
Distaff. It is possible that she will meet Princess of Sylmar in the Beldame at
Belmont Park on Sept. 28th.
Wise Dan returned to the Spa to win the Fourstardave for the second year in a row. Wise
Dan is currently on an eight-race winning streak that includes only grade one
and two stakes. He has won 11 out of his last 12 races with his only narrow
loss to Ron the Greek in the 2012 Stephen Foster. Wise Dan is the Horse of the
Year and he will stay Horse of the Year until the title goes to another horse.
The Top Juvenile Filly of the Meeting
Even though there was very
little rain this summer at the Spa, the top two year-olds made their mark on
sloppy racetracks. I was amazed at the maiden victory of the Street Sense filly
Sweet Reason. She ran one of the
most visually impressive races of the meetings by rallying from 19 lengths
behind to a six-length victory. Sweet Reason found another sloppy track when
she again came from off the pace to get trainer Leah Gyarmati her first grade
one win in the Spinaway.
It is doubtful that Sweet
Reason is just a wet track star. In her August 25th workout on a
fast surface prior to the Spinaway, she started 6 lengths behind two promising
Chad Brown runners and then easily passed and left them far behind in a mere
The Top Juvenile Colts of the Meeting
Strong Mandate‘s impressive 9¾-length victory in the Hopeful on the final day of the
meeting caused a last minute change for my choice as top juvenile male. This Tiznow colt broke his maiden in
his second start on August 17th and came right back to defeat a quality
field in the final stake of the summer at Saratoga. Strong Mandate became the 7th
winner of the Hopeful for D. Wayne Lukas.
Honor Code won his seven-furlong maiden race in the same style as Sweet Reason. This Shug
McGaughey trained AP Indy colt was 20 lengths behind in his sloppy track debut.
He made his move along the inside and had no trouble bursting through a hole on
the rail to go on to a four-length victory. This win on August 31st
did not leave time for Honor Code to notch a Saratoga stakes win, but it still
was one of the most impressive performances by a juvenile male.
Alpha went more than a year to win another race after the 2012 Travers dead heat
victory. His gate to wire win in
the Woodward on a sloppy track brought Alpha back into the spotlight.
Capo Bastone drew a great deal of attention after he ran third in the 2012
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but struggled in 2013 with only an allowance win at
Gulfstream until he upset the King’s Bishop at 28-1.
D. Wayne Lukas' return to prominence has been one of the biggest stories in racing in
2013. At Saratoga, the Coach backed up his Preakness win with victories in the
Travers with Will Take Charge and the Hopeful with Strong Mandate.
Silver Max won five races in a row as a three year-old but had been struggling at get back
to that form. At the Spa Silver Max won the Bernard Baruch with his signature
front running style. That victory gave him two in a row to continue his turf
Will Take Charge made some noise on the 2013 Derby Trail when he won the Smarty Jones
and Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, but he ran poorly in the Triple Crown races. At
Saratoga his comeback began with a second place in the Jim Dandy and came full
swing when he won the Travers.
The Meeting Leaders
Javier Castellano won the Saratoga Leading Jockey title for the first time after
finishing second in the standings for the past three years. Javier won five
races on the last day to give him a total of 66 wins, which was just two short
of the record held by Ramon Dominguez.
Todd Pletcher won his 10th Leading Trainer title and his fourth in a
row. In those years Pletcher has won 36, 36, 38 [which is the record], and 36
races. In 2013 twelve of those victories were in graded stakes races. Title
number 10 moved him in front of Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
Ken Ramsey predicted that he would win the Leading Owner title at Saratoga and thus end Mike Repole’s streak of the past three years. Ramsey did it in record-breaking
fashion when he ended the meeting with 22 wins.