You could tell which people stayed out late dancing to the bands at the Hat’s Off to Saratoga celebration on Broadway by whether or not they slept through the thunder storm. A rumble that sounded like a semi rolling through a tunnel escaped the notice of those who were still sleeping hard at 4 am.  The storm passed without damage, for the most part.  But it raised the humidity considerably.

The 15th annual Silks and Satins 5K Run to benefit Special Olympics was held prior to the heat bubbling up.  You may not realize that Saratoga horse racing has begun by consulting a calendar any longer, but you do know that the horses are back when you see about 1000 two-legged runners streaming through the streets in the morning.

A team of NBC Sports broadcasters came to Saratoga Springs for what was the first of seven weekend live horse racing telecasts.  The afternoon’s developments could have turned out a little better for them.  Only five three-year-old fillies were entered in the featured event – the Gr. 1 $250,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, which was won by It’s Tricky.  The finicky daughter of Mineshaft is a horse few people know by reputation, although she has won all but one of her six lifetime starts. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin says the Gr. 1 Alabama Stakes on August 20 is next up for her, where she’ll meet the Queen’s Plate champion Inglorious.

By the time It’s Tricky’s triumph became official, Saratoga Racecourse’s clubhouse and grandstand emptied out. Few people stayed beyond the card’s half-way mark.  If it looked like the place was jammed to the rafters on your television set, credit cameramen who know how to turn five loaves and two fish into bouillabaisse. The few fans that stayed, nonetheless, saw a few things worth noting.

Laurie’s Rocket by Bluegrass Cat emerged as the season’s first two-year-old colt to keep an eye on when winning the second race. He ran 5-1/2 furlongs in 1:04.74 to beat several nice horses. Saddleranch, a three-year-old colt by Vindication, won the third race, a maiden 6-1/2 furlong sprint. Sent off as the 9-10 chalk while trying conventional dirt for the first time, the California-based, Bob Baffert-trained horse romped home more than three lengths the good of Global Power in the fine time of 1:15.02.

Todd Pletcher added blinkers to R King of the Road and the gelded son of Trippi focused so well that he ran splits of :21.72 and :44.90 en route to six furlongs in 1:09.08 in the seventh. Pletcher wasn’t so fortunate with working his magic on Unbridled Ocean, however, as the $875,000 first time starter dumped his rider before loading the starting gate and then leapt over the outer rail on the backstretch to seek a stall on the backstretch.

Today is the Hat’s Off to Saratoga hat contest.

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