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Jul 30, 2010

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            Saratoga got their 2010 meeting underway when they opened the doors on Friday July 23rd, 2010, a start of the 40-day meeting. They added four extra days to the beginning of the meet for a total of 40 days this year. However, as it seems in the past the opening day weather has not been good. It started to rain around 10:30 on opening day morning and it rained very hard until at least 7 p.m. that night. The next day, Saturday was supposed to be better but the weather didn’t really cooperate again with more rain and a very hot and humid day. Sunday, supposedly the best day of the first four days was overcast and some more light rain. Finally Monday, the best day of the four days was hopefully a harbinger for the rest of the meeting.

            Opening day attendance was listed as 23,178 down from last year’s total of 25,444; however considering the weather they did fine. There was also talk how this day easily bested what would have been if they stayed at Belmont and that goes without saying. Belmont doesn’t draw anymore and by that token you should just run Saratoga year-round, of course it is going to outdraw the tracks downstate.

            The opening day feature race was the Schuylerville Stakes for two year old fillies. The field was short but competitive with two 2-1 shots, a 5-2 shot, two 9-1 shots and one 11-1. The early pace was hot with three fillies battling across the track through some solid fractions, as they entered the stretch STOPSPENDINGMARIA, the slight favorite got away from the other leaders and held the lead late in the stretch but couldn’t hold off the late charge of LE MI GEAUX and apprentice Freddie Lenclud who got up for the win in a slow time of 1:13:3.

            Another star returned on opening day when VINEYARD HAVEN easily took the James Marvin Stakes and used it as a prep for bigger races later in the meet. At Saratoga you generally get this star quality just prepping for races later down the line. The first two races of the day stayed on the turf but the rest were taken off.

            On Day 2 the track started off as muddy/sealed and the turf was yielding but as the day went on the main track was upgraded to good. The Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks was the highlight of the day but we also saw the unveiling of a top two year old when Steve Asmussen ran a horse called WINE POLICE who won his debut by almost eight lengths in a very sharp time and is one to watch down the line. In the Coaching Club, the heavy favorite DEVIL MAY CARE easily dispatched her five rivals by four lengths. The Todd Pletcher trainee is right at the top of the three year old filly division.

            On day 3 the main track was still listed as good with the turf yielding and they featured the Grade II Sanford Stakes. The favorite in the race BAIL OUT THE CAT got off to a slow start costing him all chance and MAYBESOMAYBENOT was able to clear the lead and never looked back going wire to wire at 9-1; the maiden NACHO SAINT ran second in a decent time of 1:10:4; you should some of these in other two year old races as the meeting goes on.      

            The final day of the opening weekend the track was fast and the turf was good. The Evan Shipman Stakes for New York breds was usually run at the end of the Belmont meeting but this year was moved to Saratoga. The winner in a thrilling finish was the favorite GIANT MOON who got up by a neck over ICABAD CRANE who was a head in front of GROOMEDFORVICTORY.

            Other highlights from the first four days was on Sunday July 25th when jockey Javier Castellano won five races in a row starting in race two and ending in race six. He only had one other mount after race six but his horse didn’t do much checking in last. He is currently in the lead in the jockey standings but that is a race that should go down to the wire as well as the trainer race which sees Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown tied atop those standings.



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