Saratoga Spotlight: Top races, names to know at midway point

August 14, 2018 04:02pm

During the first half of the 2018 Saratoga meeting, there were six Grade 1 stakes races run, and each one produced a big performance. Here's a look back at the early highlights, with some new names to know:

Diana Stakes

The first Grade 1 of the meeting was run opening weekend and served as a stage for
Sistercharlie. The highly rated Chad Brown runner got back to the winner’s circle after losing to her stablemate Fourstar Crook in the New York Handicap. In the Diana, it took a late charge for the Peter Brant runner to get up by a nose. Sistercharlie went on to win the Beverly D. (G1) last weekend at Arlington Park.

Coaching Club American Oaks

If there were any questions about
Monomoy Girl being the leader of the 3-year-old filly division, they were put to rest when the Brad Cox runner took control of the race right out of the gate. The daughter of Tapizar is unbeaten in five starts in 2018 with the last four being Grade 1s. Next is the Sept. 22 Cotillion (G1) at Parx.

Vanderbilt Handicap

Imperial Hint
made his first Grade 1 victory look effortless as he glided to a 3 ¾-length victory. The Luis Carvajal Jr. trainee was guided from off the pace by Javier Castellano, who appeared to never move a muscle as the Parx-based horse flew past the field and won the six-furlong sprint while geared out in the final hundred yards. The easy victory earned a 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

Test Stakes

The seven-furlong sprint gave the Saratoga fans one of the best stretch duels of the meeting.
Separationofpowers was rated in a stalking position by Jose Ortiz while Mia Mischief was taking control of the race on the front end. Entering the turn, Ortiz asked the Brown runner to go, and she made the field look like they were standing still as she easily engaged Mia Mischief as they straightened out for home. It looked like there would be a big margin of victory, but Mia Mischief dug in and battled all the way to the wire. In the end, it was a neck victory for Separationofpowers.

Whitney Stakes

Most of the Whitney drama happened before the gates opened, as another Saratoga summer storm blew through the area causing the start of the race to be delayed for about 40 minutes. The track had to be sealed and became sloppy. None of this bothered
Diversify, as the New York-bred led every step of the way, finishing ahead of Mind Your Biscuits, the leading state-bred earner of all time. For the win, Diversify earned his second 110 Beyer Speed Figure in a row, matching his speed number from the Suburban (G2) in July.

Fourstardave Handicap

The race had an intriguing field of six and was run on a wet turf course. Right out of the gate, Voodoo Song was sent to the lead in quest of his first Grade 1 victory. The Linda Rice trainee would not be denied as he gamely held off a challenge by 
Delta Prince, who appeared to be on his way to the lead. It was fitting that Voodoo Song would win the race named for the horse that won eight years in a row at Saratoga. Voodoo became a fan favorite himself when he won four times at the Spa in 2017, and the Fourstardave victory extended his streak to five.

New Names to Know

Saratoga is also known a place where talented and well-bred horses make their racing debuts. Here is a list of some maiden winners that may be worth watching in the future.

Mucho (August 4, 2018) 2-year-old by Blame, Bill Mott, Jose Ortiz, 6F, 9 ¾ lengths, 90 BSF

Hersh (August 4, 2018) 3-year-old by Jimmy Creed, Dermot Magner, Joel Rosario, 7F, 1 ½ lengths, 88 BSF

Network Effect (August 11, 2018) 2-year-old by Mark Valeski, Chad Brown, Javier Castellano, 7F, 3 lengths, 76 BSF

Feedback (August 12, 2018) 2-year-old filly by Violence, Chad Brown, Irad Ortiz, 6 ½ F, 8 lengths, 85 BSF

Fog of War (August 13, 2018) 2-year-old by War Front, Chad Brown, Javier Castellano, 5 ½ F (TURF), neck, 77 BSF


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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.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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