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Jul 18, 2013

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-SARATOGA OPENING

By: JOE GIRARDI


               We are finally here, Saratoga is open! Six weeks in upstate New York started on July19th and will run through Labor Day September 2nd. Racingis conducted six days a week with the only dark day coming on Tuesdays.

               Firstpost is at 1 p.m. with a few exceptions, on Travers Day, August 24th,when first post is 11:35 a.m. There will be one twilight card which comes inthe last Friday of the meeting and that post will be at 2:30 p.m. Finally onLabor Day, September 2nd when first post is 12:30 p.m.

               As inkeeping with tradition there are always premium giveaways that attract even more people to the track. Four giveaways on four different Sundays will attractplenty of customers through the turnstiles at Saratoga. Starting with SundayJuly 28th, the always popular Saratoga Short-Sleeve T-shirt. Twoweeks later, NYRA really came through on this one with the SaratogaFourstardave bobblehead giveaway. Fourstardave, a name synonymous with Saratogawill have his day with a bobblehead doll. That should be the most popular ofall the giveaways as a great horse and a great Saratoga performer gets his dueon August 11th. The following week, a replica model of Saratoga RaceCourse will be given away. The final giveaway comes on the last Sunday of themeeting on September 1st with the Saratoga Beer Stein. If you wantto take a look at these items go to www.nyra.com.

               Saratogais a meeting that everyone points too, jockeys, trainers and owners, let ustake a look at how those races played out last year. In the jockeys standingslast year the winner by 17 wins was Ramon Dominguez. He won at 24% last yearand was in the money over 55% of the time. However, in January of this year hewas in a bad spill at Aqueduct’s inner track where he suffered a head injury.He announced his retirement on June 13th, 2013 because of thoseinjuries and will be missed at the Spa this year. Javier Castellano, who wassecond in last year’s standings with 51 wins was 16 wins ahead of third placefinisher Jose Lezcano with John Velazquez and Joel Rosario rounding out in 4thand 5th place. This year without Ramon and John Velazquez heathlyand Joel Rosario in career form it should be a good race for top jockey. Somejockeys to look for that might come in a bit under the radar would be Junior Alvarado who had a great Belmont Spring/Summer meeting and Rajiv Maragh, whohas rejuvenated his career under a new agent. Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, knowshow to ride this track and should be one to watch especially at solid odds.

               Lastyear’s trainers title went to Todd Pletcher when he finished with 36 wins anddefeated Chad Brown by 7 wins. He finished with a 24% winning percentage andjust missed coming in the money 50% when he checked in with 48% in the money.He is top with two year olds and is expected to win another title. He will havea tough competitor in Chad Brown who had 29 wins for a 31% winning percentageand an excellent in the money percentage of 66% and he looks like the onlytrainer that would have a chance to dethrone Pletcher. Linda Rice whose horsesalways seem to take money up here might be overbet as well as Daivd Jacobsonwho had a record breaking Belmont Spring/Summer meeting. Keep your eye on thosetwo barns and how they start out and adjust accordingly.

               Theowners title at Saratoga is a prestigious title that many owners gear up for inthe months leading into the meeting. Last year’s winner was Repole Stable who13 wins and scored with 25% of his starters and was in the money 57% of thetime. He has most of his horses with Todd Pletcher and expect to see him haveanother solid meeting. Ken and Sarah Ramsey who finished third with 9 wins lastyear has positioned himself for a run at the title. Michael Dubb andStonestreet Stables should have a good meeting as well and Drawing AwayStables, who won the Belmont Spring/Summer meeting will also have a shot. Itwill a great meeting with everyone trying to win which should make for somegood betting opportunities.

               If youwant more info on Saratoga go to www.americanturf.comand order our digital copy of the August issue, don’t forget about ourSeptember issue which will be out in a few weeks and it will have some veryimportant second half stats. Good luck!



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