Sunday, August 5, 2012

Saratoga Stakes Recap



After I put up a pic of my Easy Goer painting, my friend Rich Garrison (to whom the painting is dedicated) immediately asked me why there hasn't been a Saratoga post yet. I know, I know - I've been remiss, so here's a recap of some of the more notable contests at the 2012 Spa meet thus far:

On opening day in the G3 Schuylerville for two-year-old fillies, So Many Ways looked quite professional. She won with a methodical stalking trip, three-wide into the lane, and showed none of the green-ness and overeager speedball tactics that one often sees in young horses running in sprints. Well done, young lady!

On July 21, Questing easily took the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks, well clear even while drifting out in deep stretch. In Lingerie disappointed as the favorite (the preceding is one those fabulous sentences you get to type while writing about the races).

On July 22, Bern Identity won the G2 Sanford Stakes, another graded sprint for two-year-olds. The heavy favorite definitely benefited from a blistering speed duel on the front end.

Saratoga is one of the only places you can see a G2 race on a Wednesday (love that!) and Centre Court weaved through a wild stretch run in the Lake George Stakes on July 25. Those blanket finishes on the turf are always a thrill (except when your horse gets nosed out, of course).

Two graded stakes went off on Saturday, July 28: The G1 Diana for fillies and mares three and up, and the G2 Jim Dandy. In the former, Winter Memories came off the turn like a steam engine. The turf track was listed as good, but judging from the condition of the main track, I think it was yielding. Either way, it seemed like a forgone conclusion, Winter Memories was much the best.

Alpha, who hasn't been raced since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby, led the field through soft fractions in the mud to win the Jim Dandy wire-to-wire. Teeth of the Dog and Neck 'N Neck made weak bids, but all in all, it was a pretty dull race.

In the G2 Honorable Miss on August 3, It's Me Mom, Winning Image, and Roman Treasure led the field through a half-mile in 43 seconds-and-change. Needless to say, they all pooped out and CC's Pal was the beneficiary, with Island Bound hot on her heels.

Yesterday featured two graded affairs, the G1 Prioress and one of the big races of the Saratoga meeting, the G1 Whitney.

In The Prioress, Emma's Encore reeled in Judy the Beauty and the heavily favored front runner Agave Kiss. It was an especially nice-looking close; one more in keeping with a turf race than dirt, and with just a little note of the celestial Zenyatta.

In the Whitney (shown at the top of this post) Fort Larned made a strong move in the stretch, but also had a little racing luck on his side as favorite Ron The Greek was forced 7-wide into the lane - the latter gave chase, but just had too much work to do.

Wow, so much racing! Tune in to no Hassle at the Castle for Travers coverage, and recaps when I remember to post them (thanks again for the gentle nudge, Rich!)