Todd Pletcher was seen making a beeline for the parking lot
shortly after he was assured that the two horses he saddled in the Hopeful had
come back from the race safely. There
was no reason for him to hang around for the eleventh. He didn't have a horse running and Linda Rice
had sewn up the training title already.
The meet's two leading trainers entered 11 runners combined
on Monday's Labor Day card. Neither
trainer won with any horse. Rice began
the day one up on Pletcher in the standings, despite running almost 60 horses
fewer than he. All the races she won
were races that were scheduled for turf.
Her victories numbered 20. Her
winning percentage was nearly 30 percent.
It was the year of the girl at Saratoga.
In addition to Rice becoming the first woman to win a Saratoga training title, the powerful
3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra beat older boys in the Woodward. Danielle Hodsdon dominated the rider corps in
the steeplechase races and won on the flat in her very first try at that. Janet Elliot was inducted as the first female
trainer in the Hall of Fame.
Speaking of trainers, an old one but a good one was back in
the spotlight on Monday. D. Wayne Lukas,
recently turned 74, saddled the 2-year-old Dublin to a smashing Hopeful Stakes
victory. Lukas predicted success openly
in the week leading up to the race.
Those who doubted him faced embarrassment as well as lost a three to one
profit on every dollar bet.
ran the kind of race that would make owners think of May. The son of Afleet
Alex, also a Hopeful winner, is a long-legged, 1200-pound colt that glides over
the track effortlessly. In typical Lukas
fashion, he finished out of the money in his first race against five next-out
winners. He then broke his maiden in his
second start, winning by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:09.45 for six furlongs.
Although Lukas had a good meet, the hottest trainer on the
grounds in the last several days was Bill Mott.
For example, his horses won the eighth and the ninth. The eighth was a 5 ½ furlongs allowance
sprint on the grass. The ninth was the
$100,000 grade III Glens Falls Handicap.
Corey's Coming took the former.
Mushka won the latter. Kent Desormeaux rode both.
By the way, Mushka was one of two more million-dollar babies
that took to the track this meet. In
winning the co-feature, she, a $1.6 million yearling purchase, fared
considerably better than Crystal Moment, a $1.2 million horse that finished
fourth in the sixth. Perhaps the
$400,000 made a difference.
As for numbers that matter, the meet ended down - but only
slightly. NYRA immediately issued a
statement that despite the declines, Saratoga 2009 was a rousing success. Few can argue with that. Ken and Sarah Ramsay, who led all owners with
12 victories, and Godolphin, that won four grade I stakes and was dq'd from a
fifth, in particular, liked the math.