Shifman: The Top 10 moments from Saratoga's 2019 meet

September 03, 2019 11:18am

There were so many great moments at the Saratoga meet that concluded Monday it was difficult to limit this list to 10, presented as a countdown. And don't be shy about sharing your own favorites from the Spa in the comments below.

10) Preservationist bounces back to win the Woodward

The Older Male division has been wide open all year long, with winning a singly Grade 1 race has benough to get a horse noticed.
Perservationist did just that when he rebounded from a lackluster performance in the Whitney (G1) with a courageous run through traffic in last Saturday's Woodward.

9) McKinzie breaks through in the Whitney

carried the banner for the Bob Baffert barn against the Older Males all year long, and he earned his first Grade 1 win of the season when bursting clear in the stretch of the Whitney (G1). That makes the 4-year-old son of Street Sense the potential Breeders' Cup Classic favorite.

8) Shancelot blazes to an Amsterdam win

Trainer Jorge Navarro knows fast sprinters, and when he brought
Shancelot to Saratoga from Monmouth Park, he said that this 3-year-old was the best he's ever trained. The colt put on a show in the Amsterdam (G2), flying out of the gate to complete 6 ½  furlongs in 1:14.01. A victory 12 ½ lengths in font registered the year's highest Beyer Speed Figure so far, a 121.

7) Imperial Hint sets a record in the Vanderbilt

Imperial Hint
returned to racing at his favorite track after a trip to Dubai and did so in record-setting style. The Luis Carnaval Jr. trainee not only handed the Sprint division leader Mitole his only loss of the year, but he opened up to a four-length margin of victory and set a track record for six furlongs in 1:07.92.

6) A trio of Chad Brown 3-year-old fillies posted big wins

Guarana, Dunbar Road, and Royal Charlotte were graded stakes-winning 3-year-old fillies on the dirt for the meet’s leading trainer Chad Brown. The first two scored at the Grade 1 level with
Guarana taking the Coaching Club American Oaks and then Dunbar Road going 10 furlongs in the Alabama. Finally, on Saturday Royal Charlotte bounced back from defeat in the Test (G1) to win the Prioress over previously unbeaten Break Even, announcing herself as another name to know from the barn.

5) Mitole rebounded with stakes record in the Forego

displayed why he has become such a great horse in 2019 when he returned to his winning ways with a victory in the seven-furlong Forego (G1). After tasting defeat for the first time this year in the Vanderbilt, the Steve Asmussen trainee notched his third Grade 1 of the year with a convincing three-length margin in a stakes-record time of 1:20.80. He has won eight of his last nine starts dating back to last year.

4) Sistercharlie aces her Diana debut again

It took last year’s Champion Turf Female a bit longer than was expected to get back to the races for Chad Brown, but
Sistercharlie did it with her usual ease when she won the Diana (G1) for the second year in a row. It’s not easy to debut in a Grade 1 race, and she did it against two of the best turf fillies in the country in her stablemates Homerique and Rushing Fall.

3) Got Stormy beats the boys in the Fourstardave

It happens quite often in Europe -- that female runners take on the males and beat them -- but here in America, not so much. Trainer Mark Casse is never afraid to challenge his horses when they are in top form and after
Got Stormy had won the De La Rose just a week earlier, he sent the 4-year-old filly to face the boys in the Fourstardave (G1). The results were spectacular as she became the first filly to win the Fourstardave and did so in record fashion, completing a mile in inner turf in 1:32.

2) Code of Honor gives McGaughey his fourth Travers

In retrospect, it almost seemed like destiny that
Code of Honor would fulfill his promise with a victory in the Travers Stakes (G1). The Shug McGaughey trainee had definitely been part of a jumbled 3-Year-Old Male division this year. Like so many others he’d had his victories and then his disappointments. He prepped for the Travers with an eye-catching win in the Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park in July, after which McGaughey opted to train his colt up to Mid-Summer Derby. The plan worked perfectly as Code of Honor swept to a three-length score giving his trainer his fourth victory in the signature race of the Saratoga meeting.

1) Midnight Bisou out-duels Elate in the Personal Ensign

Midnight Bisou
marched into the much anticipated matchup with Elate on a five-race winning streak that included two Grade 1 victories, yet she went to the gate as the 1.70-1 second choice to that rival. The two best horses in the Older Dirt Female division knocked heads down the stretch as Midnight Bisou rallied from behind the leader Elate to get a nose in front at the wire. The Personal Ensign was spectacular, an easy choice as the best race year of the 2019 Saratoga meeting, and is also likely the best of the entire year.


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