People pretending to be someone other than they are
constituted a theme. Siro's booked an Elvis Presley tribute band to play in its
backyard on Friday evening and the performer who played Elvis took his role so
intently that you wondered if he was channeling the original. Johnny Enright, a fellow from Malta, NY dressed
as wrestler Hulk Hogan, patrolled the racecourse on Saturday. When asked what he thought he was doing, Enright said, "Think of me as the ‘Chicken' of horse racing."
Nevertheless, unlike several previous days, Saratoga did not impersonate the experience
that people have grown to expect from being here. The end to July, humidity-free weather and
fabulous horse racing provided a crowd of nearly 29,000 fans with an excuse to
come back again. Only two races failed
to provide interest and even those offered betting odds that made them
playable. Each of the three stakes on the 11-race card could have served as the
sole headliner elsewhere.
The opener was called the $70,000 William B. Fasig
Stakes. The 1-1/16 mile turf race
engaged several nice New York-bred horses, including Chestoria. At 3-2, Chestoria was the favorite. She was one of two horses that trainer Bill
Badgett entered. His second horse, Exclusive Scheme, was the longest price on
the board at 25-1. Exclusive Scheme triumphed unexpectedly, pretending the
back-to-back pace challenges of two competitors didn't bother her.
Bill Mott got the luck in the Gr.1 $500,000 Diana. Mike Smith came from California to ride only one horse and that
horse - Proviso - popped her nose in front of two other horses to give Mott his
fourth Diana victory in the last half-dozen summers. The 5-year-old mare rallied
three wide coming through the final turn of the 1-1/8 mile event on a firm turf
course, gained a brief advantage with a half-furlong to go and held on to
withstand late runs by Shared Account and Forever Together. A nose and a nose
separated the first from the third horse.
A Little Warm raced well enough in the Gr.2 $500,000 Jim
Dandy Stakes to lay claim to becoming a serious Travers contender. The Stormin Fever colt, owned by Edward P.
Evans and trained by Anthony Dutrow, beat Miner's Reserve at Delaware Park
last time out and he beat him again Saturday.
Dutrow told Johnny Velasquez to ride with confidence and he did. Velasquez is now tied for first in the jockey's
A fourth race worth mentioning was a maiden special weights
for 3-year-olds and up. All week long, the backstretch was active with talk
about how good an Afleet Alex colt named Admiral Alex, owned and trained by
Leon Blusiewicz, was. In this, his first start, Admiral Alex raced slightly
behind the leaders until it came time to get serious. He then accelerated
smoothly from one tap of the stick by Kent Desormeaux to win handily. The ambitious next step is the Travers.
There's no chicken to that.
Vic Zast writes a
column for HorseRaceInsider.com each Monday.
He has written the Saratoga
Diary for bloodhorse.com in five of the last six years.