After one week at Saratoga there are not many surprises. The leading jockey is John Velazquez, the
leading trainer is Todd Pletcher and as usual there have been races moved from the turf to the dirt because
of the rain in upstate New York. As we head into the second week we start to get into the races that will have
an impact on the Breeder’s Cup and further.
On Saturday August 7th Saratoga will host the Grade I Whitney Handicap, to be run at 1 and 1/8th miles
and will carry a purse of $750,000. PEACE RULES is the highweight on the strength of his win in the Grade I
Suburban Handicap on July 3rd at Belmont. This Bobby Frankel trainee was the second choice of his trainer
who at first was going to run sprinter GHOSTZAPPER in the race before changing his mind. PEACE RULES is
the morning line favorite at 5-2, followed by SEATTLE FITZ at 7-2 and NEWFOUNDLAND at 4-1. From top
to bottom in this nine horse field any horse has a shot to win. This is a wide open Whitney which makes for
a strong betting opportunity.
On Sunday Saratoga will host the Grade II, $500,000 Jim Dandy stakes, run at 1 and 1/8th miles. The Jim
Dandy which traditionally serves as a prep for the Grade I Travers stakes should attract a solid field of three
year olds. PURGE, who was the Peter Pan hero back in May and then failed miserably, is expected to run
for trainer Todd Pletcher. With the time off to recover from the Belmont expect to see a much improved effort
from PURGE, who could turn out to be one of the better three year olds. Some others who look to be definite
for the race are COURAGEOUS ACT, EDDINGTON, NIIGON and THE CLIFF’S EDGE. Obviously
THE CLIFF’S EDGE and EDDINGTON will bring the most notoriety to the table and are three year olds that
can improve with the time off over the Summer. THE CLIFF’S EDGE, who was defeated in the Dwyer Stakes
by the speedy MEDALLIST will probably have to face that rival again. The Allen Jerkens trainee had another
mile work that seemed to please the trainer and he is expected to enter the race. If he does enter the race he
immediately changes the complexion of the race as he has high early speed.
On Monday August 9th, Hall of Fame inductions will take place at the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion.
Trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey and jockey Kent Desormeaux will be inducted along with horses
SKIP AWAY and FLAWLESSLY. The ceremonies begin at
The first two stakes races of the Saratoga meeting were for two year olds. The traditional opening day
stakes race was the Grade II Schuyerville Stakes, for 2YO fillies, which went to a D. Wayne Lukas trainee
CLASSIC ELEGANCE. The time of the race was 1:12:2. over a muddy track. On day two of the meeting, Saratoga
hosted the Sanford Stakes the 2YO race for colts and geldings. This race went to AFLEET ALEX, who remained
undefeated in a race that went in 1:09:1.
On the third day of the meeting the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap went to Bailey/Mott who scored
with SILVER TREE who prevailed by a neck.
The Grade I Diana Handicap and the Grade I Test Stakes were run on the first Saturday of the meeting
following a huge rain storm. The Diana Was run over a yielding course that saw the favorite
INTERCONTINENTAL finish a disappointing fifth at 4-5. The Test went to Allen Jerkens and
SOCIETY SELECTION, who sat just off the pace for an easy score.
The Grade I Go For Wand Handicap was held on the first Sunday of the meeting and it had a stellar
matchup of AZERI (former Horse of the Year) versus SIGHTSEEK. After a few dismal performances, AZERI
bounced back with a strong wire to wire win as the second choice. SIGHTSEEK was second with
STORM FLAG FLYING third, expect all of these horses back for the Personal Ensign Stakes on August 27th.
To close out the first week, they hosted the Grade III Lake George Stakes for three year fillies on
the turf. With a good stalking trip SEDUCER’S SONG was able to close for the win.
The first week at Saratoga was an exciting one; obviously the weather could have been better but
the racing was of high quality as always. It can only get better with races like the Whitney and Jim Dandy
on tap. We will take a look at both of those races next week and also look at some of the upcoming
races at the Spa.