Saratoga Notebook - July 29

July 29th, 2015

A handful of fine graded stakes races took the spotlight during the opening week of racing at Saratoga Race Course.

Diana S. (G1): Speedway Stable’s HARD NOT TO LIKE (Hard Spun) swung wide into the stretch and got the best of a few good foes, edging Tepin (Bernstein) by a nose under John Velazquez. The Christophe Clement trainee went nine panels on the firm turf in a sharp 1:45 1/5.

Coaching Club American Oaks (G1): Eclipse Thoroughbreds’ CURALINA (Curlin) rallied gamely to fall a nose shy on the line but was bumped late by I’m a Chatterbox (Munnings), resulting in a disqualification that elevated the Todd Pletcher to the win. John Velazquez was up and the final time for the 1 1/8-mile three-year-old filly feature was 1:49 3/5.

Sanford S. (G2): Starlight Racing’s UNCLE VINNY (Uncle Mo) made a nice run in the lane to finish second, but was moved to the top spot after the stewards ruled Magna Light (Magna Graduate), who was always clear, interfered with Percolator (Flashy Bull), who wound up third under the wire. Uncle Vinny is trained by Todd Pletcher and was ridden by John Velazquez. The final time for the six-furlong two-year-old stakes was 1:11.

Schuylerville S. (G3): J Stable’s OFF THE TRACKS (Curlin) tracked early before sweeping to the lead in early stretch and rolling home a fine winner under the guidance of Luis Saez. The Roderick Rodriguez trainee finished off six panels on the fast main oval in 1:11 1/5 and was 3 1/4 lengths clear under the line. 

Lake George S. (G3): Mr and Mrs. William Warren’s MRS. MCDOUGAL (Medaglia d’Oro) found most in the late stretch en route to a half-length score for trainer Chad Brown. The three-year-old filly went 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf in 1:41 2/5 under the guidance of Irad Ortiz Jr.

Track Stats

A total of 41 races were held at the Saratoga Springs, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 32 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 51 percent of the wins during the week. From 22 races on the main oval, six animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (27 percent), while four of the 19 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (21 percent).

A real good opening weekend took place at the Spa. We thought both ovals played fairly for the most part, and all posts and running styles had a chance from our perspective.

Of the quartet of wire-to-wire winners on the lawn, one came in a sprint and the other three came in the form of route races on the inner turf oval.

Five of the six winners leading at every call on the dirt came in sprint races, with one at two turns.

Meet Totals












13 (32 percent)



8 (19 percent)



4 (21 percent)



6 (27 percent)



Friday (7/24)

2ND – LEMON LIQUEUR (Exchange Rate) was a fine debut winner in this one from the Rick Violette barn and could be a nice prospect going forward. The two-year-old filly broke best from the rail, rated kindly and then came out in the lane to pull clear late in a professional score.

7TH – BISHOP’S POND (Curlin) made it two straight with a fine late rally in rolling home late for conditioner Chad Brown. The talented sophomore filly was full of energy in the lane and could be stakes bound next time out.

8TH – PULLING G’S (Curlin) came home best in this tough sprint field to make it six out of seven lifetime runs when finishing first or second. The consistent John Shirreffs trainee earned another solid BRIS Late Pace number which tells us he can get more ground.

Saturday (7/25)

2ND – The Bill Mott-trained SITE READ (Tizdejavu) made a big move in early stretch and powered home a most impressive 4 ½-length winner in a sharp debut run. The juvenile colt came home especially fast and earned a strong 90 BRIS Speed figure first-time out.

5TH – GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini) took a lot of money in this first run and ran like a fine prospect, just missing under the line after giving up ground most of the way. The Dominick Schettino trainee was more than two lengths clear of third and likely won’t be a maiden for long.

7TH – PAID UP SUBSCRIBER (Candy Ride) has now won two in a row for trainer Albert Stall, improving her BRIS Speed number in each run. The three-year-old miss earned a big 106 BRIS Late Pace figure in this run and has earned a stakes chance.

Sunday (7/26)

3RD – BESSIE’S BOY (Smoke Glacken) sped to the front and was always clear, posting a dominant tally in this claiming event. The sophomore gelding could turn out to be a fine claim for Abigail Adsit.

4TH – FIRST SERVICE (Ghostzapper) ranged into contention approaching the turn for home and pulled away with ease beneath Javier Castellano, eventually finishing eight lengths clear. The Chad Brown charge put forth easily the best effort of his career and will be tough with winners with a repeat of this one.

6TH – Mott unveiled another superb juvenile making a debut on the turf when SAGE HALL (Cape Blanco) went last-to-first in scoring by three impressive lengths. The well-bred filly is cut out to run long and get better with age – we have no idea how good she can become with more seasoning.

A Look Ahead

A trio of graded races will be held on Saturday at Saratoga, with five in total for the week. The $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1), $600,000 Jim Dandy S. (G2) and the $200,000 Amsterdam S. (G2) will top the Saturday card.

The Sunday feature is the $200,000 Shuvee H. (G3), while fillies and mares will kick off the graded action in Wednesday’s $200,000 Honorable Miss H. (G2).