No matter what happens in today’s Grade 1 Vosburgh, Saginaw cannot be replaced. Claimed by David Jacobson and Drawing Away Stable for $30,000 in March of 2012, he became the one horse that none in the group can ever forget. The gelded son of Peruvian was a winning machine. Ten times in 2012, and five in a row going into a start last month at Saratoga, Saginaw thrilled New York racing fans on his way to his regular place in the winner’s circle. He transformed his NYC, regular guy connections into a large group of proud parents. The ten time stakes winner is gone now, but his memory will stay the course.
In some ways, Strapping Groom has become the new Saginaw. Claimed by Jacobson and DAS for $35,000 in May, the six-year-old son of Johannesburg has won three of four starts for his new team. All of those races came in stakes, and in his last start he gave his grieving connections their first-ever grade 1 victory when he took a strong Forego field wire-to-wire at Saratoga on August 31 at odds of 15-1. Seeing Strapping Groom win the big race under Junior Alvarado so soon after the devastating loss of Saginaw, I said at the time, that the world works in mysterious ways.
It surely does at times, but Strapping Groom may not know that all of this is supposed to be a one-time divine intervention. He is in fantastic form, and a second consecutive grade 1 victory in today’s Vosburgh would serve notice that this sprinter is very much for real. His trainer, for one, is enjoying the ride.
"He had some issues going back, that's why I was able to get him in a claiming race," Jacobson said. "We work on him just like we do with our other horses, and some horses respond better than others. He seems to be one that's really responded very well. "It's exciting, I'll tell ya. You've got to pinch yourself."
Their new stable star has them thinking Breeders’ Cup, and why not. The Vosburgh is a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Sprint and while the group is not ready to jump the gun, they are more than ready to see this through.
"It's race by race. The horse will let us know how he is and what he's ready to do," said Jacobson. "It's definitely in the back of our heads, the Breeders' Cup. It would be very exciting to go out west. Just the fact that you're asking me that question is very exciting. We're definitely thinking about it but, again, one race at a time."
One race at a time. That is all any of us can ask for in life. Good luck to Strapping Groom. Rest in Peace, Saginaw.
Saginaw photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA