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HRN Original Blog:
Toasting with Andrew Champagne

Saratoga Notebook: August 14th, 2014

Saratoga Notebook: August 14th, 2014
Photo: Matt Shifman

Mitchell Friedman did something all Saratoga trainers would envy Thursday at The Spa, as his charges ran 1-2 in the day’s feature race.

Carameaway recorded her first victory in more than a year in the $100,000 Saratoga Dew. She stalked second choice Easy Living through moderately fast fractions before assuming command around the far turn, and while she made short work of the field from there, stablemate Dreaming of Cara rallied for second money.

The win was Friedman’s first of the meet, and it was the fourth triumph in 22 career starts for the 4-year-old filly by Lawyer Ron. Meanwhile, Get Gorgeous stalked the early fractions and held third, while Tahoe Tigress, who went off the even-money favorite, was never a factor.

- It’s difficult to quantify how much the best Schoodic was in the opener, the Michael Walsh Novice Stakes at 2 3/8 miles over fences. Last seen leaving the course earlier this meet, the 4-year-old gelding spotted the field 10 or so lengths at the start.

Fortunately for the Jack Fisher trainee, though, there was plenty of ground to cover. Jockey Paddy Young slowly moved the son of Tiznow into contention and navigated around two horses who did not finish (one dumped the jockey, the other fell going down the backstretch). When the field turned for home, Schoodic dashed clear and cruised to the wire clear by four lengths.

It’s the fourth win in six starts over fences for the gelding, and his second win in four starts this season. 9/5 favorite Address Unknown completed the exacta, but suffered the first defeat of his young steeplechase career.

- When the gates were sprung in Friday’s fifth race, Bar of Gold looked more like fool’s gold. The first-time starter by Medaglia d’Oro broke very slowly in the 5 ½-furlong affair, but an expert ride by Junior Alvarado saw the filly slowly maneuver through the field.

After advancing into contention at the top of the lane, the John Kimmel trainee dove to the rail in mid-stretch. She assumed command with less than a furlong to go and held off 18-1 longshot Irish Heroine, prevailing by a half-length.

A New York-bred, Bar of Gold sported several sharp four-furlong workouts at The Spa in recent weeks. Out of the Lemon Drop Kid filly Khancord Kid, she’s a Chester and Mary Broman homebred.

- Blofeld was bet like he couldn’t lose the sixth race. He didn’t, but it was far from easy.

The Todd Pletcher firster was bet down to 1/2 in the field of five, but he didn’t break best of all. Signature Cat caught a flyer out of the gate and spurted clear by several lengths entering the turn, forcing Blofeld to rate in second.

However, the son of Quality Road gained ground at the top of the stretch. Despite being a bit tough to handle in the race’s penultimate furlong, Blofeld eventually caught and passed Signature Cat, who had to settle for a strong second-place finish.

A $225,000 auction purchase earlier this year, Blofeld is out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Minstrel. He’s owned by Glencrest Farm and JSM Equine.

- Saratoga Hijinks: Unlike Wednesday, when spirits were dampened by a pretty bad series of storms, Thursday brought several instances of laughter, highlighted early by a maintenance worker in the infield chasing a goose with help of a ladder. This is high comedy when seen from the press box.

Additionally, while local harness racing fans are captivated by the presence of Foiled Again (who will run in Saturday night’s feature across the street), the real news for the standardbred folks is that Tom Durkin has a horse aiming to trot in next Wednesday’s opener at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. I cannot name said horse, as it’s an Italian expression I cannot spell, but if past outings are any indication, Durkin’s outfit that night will be must-see TV.

 

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Meet Andrew Champagne

 

A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Ithaca College, Andrew Champagne fell in love with horse racing at a very early age on summer trips to Saratoga. His turf writing credits include time spent as a sportswriter, weekly columnist, and handicapper at The Saratogian, a summer working for The Saratoga Special, and "field research" at OTB facilities in Saratoga Springs and his hometown of Kingston. He also spent two years in the athletic communications office at Siena College, and interned with NBC Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.


Andrew moved to Pasadena, Calif., in October of 2013, and now serves as an Associate Producer in HRTV's Digital Media department and Horse Racing Nation's Southern California writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne, and email him at andrewdchampagne@gmail.com.