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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 July 19th and will run through Labor Day September 2nd. Racing is conducted six days a week with the only dark day coming on Tuesdays.

               First post 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 in the last Friday of the meeting and that post will be at 2:30 p.m. Finally on Labor Day, September 2nd when first post is 12:30 p.m.

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

               Saratoga is a meeting that everyone points too, jockeys, trainers and owners, let us take a look at how those races played out last year. In the jockeys standings last year the winner by 17 wins was Ramon Dominguez. He won at 24% last year and was in the money over 55% of the time. However, in January of this year he was 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 those injuries and will be missed at the Spa this year. Javier Castellano, who was second in last year’s standings with 51 wins was 16 wins ahead of third place finisher Jose Lezcano with John Velazquez and Joel Rosario rounding out in 4th and 5th place. This year without Ramon and John Velazquez heathly and Joel Rosario in career form it should be a good race for top jockey. Some jockeys 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, who has rejuvenated his career under a new agent. Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, knows how to ride this track and should be one to watch especially at solid odds.

               Last year’s trainers title went to Todd Pletcher when he finished with 36 wins and defeated Chad Brown by 7 wins. He finished with a 24% winning percentage and just 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 have a tough competitor in Chad Brown who had 29 wins for a 31% winning percentage and an excellent in the money percentage of 66% and he looks like the only trainer that would have a chance to dethrone Pletcher. Linda Rice whose horses always seem to take money up here might be overbet as well as Daivd Jacobson who had a record breaking Belmont Spring/Summer meeting. Keep your eye on those two barns and how they start out and adjust accordingly.

               The owners title at Saratoga is a prestigious title that many owners gear up for in the months leading into the meeting. Last year’s winner was Repole Stable who 13 wins and scored with 25% of his starters and was in the money 57% of the time. He has most of his horses with Todd Pletcher and expect to see him have another solid meeting. Ken and Sarah Ramsey who finished third with 9 wins last year has positioned himself for a run at the title. Michael Dubb and Stonestreet Stables should have a good meeting as well and Drawing Away Stables, who won the Belmont Spring/Summer meeting will also have a shot. It will a great meeting with everyone trying to win which should make for some good betting opportunities.

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



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