The trusting souls, who didn’t let the threat of inclement weather keep them away from the racetrack, were treated to a grand day of Thoroughbred sport.
This does not mean that the competition was spectacular. It was first class; not incomparable. What was proved in the end was that there is no need for NYRA to pool its best stakes on one day to prove anything.
The program got off to a rousing start with a $17.60 winner. “You’ve got to bet this horse,” said trainer Chuck Simon, observing the odds board while wishing he had a horse of his own entered.
“How often do you find a race in which the second choice is 7-1?” asked the soft-spoken Saratoga native. After 17 maiden starts, Cabazon seems to have finally hit his best stride, winning thrice in his latest five outings.
In the second race, one more number eight horse – a hot number all meet long - won when the Rick Dutrow-trained Precious Package shook off Spaniard easily. Tab the show horse named Viscount to win next time. He moved so swiftly through the lane that he looked far more impressive than the first and third finishers.
John Oxley and trainer John Ward Jr. have a King’s Bishop Stakes (gr.I) contender in I’m So Lucky, the winner of the next contest. Then in the following event, Irish Smoke’s lead on the turn was inhaled by a trio of mind-their-time horses, the winner Porte Bonheur included.
By the way, between these two races, Sam the Bugler left his usual spot at the rail to play a selection of songs for a visually-impaired friend in the clubhouse. Carol Cohen, wife of Albany, New York horse owner Henry Cohen, got to hear “Fly Me to the Moon” and “There Will Never Be another You,” in a 15-minute one-on-one concert.
Jasper Alexander, the chef at Hattie’s, presented the trophy to Storm on the Track’s owners in the fifth. Susan Lucci, the actress, did the same for the owners of Pano’s Love, once the sixth went in the record books.
Regrettably, Storm on the Track’s photo was somewhat compromised. Richie Migliore, back with his first win after a long stint in California, wore generic silks while riding.
Ramon Dominguez, Edgar Prado, Cornelio Velasquez and J.R.Velasquez, each had two winners.
Indian Blessing won the Test.Stakes (gr. I). But the patrons, not the Bob Baffert-trained filly, passed the true test.