Owner Mike Repole wasn’t on horseback Saturday. But he rode an emotional bucking bronco that would unseat most people. His Repole Stables sent out four runners – two won, and the first one, a promising maiden two-year-old colt by Giant’s Causeway named Giant Surprise, was taken off the track in a van seconds after he crossed the finish line. Repole’s second winner was Stay Thirsty, a horse who has spent his career in the shadows of stable mate Uncle Mo. As second choice, Stay Thirsty won the Jim Dandy Stakes, a grade two prep for the Travers.
“This is a really, really special win because obviously there are a lot of ups and downs in this game,” said Repole in the Jim Dandy winner’s circle, and he wasn’t talking about the race in which Giant Surprise was injured. Dressed in a blue suit with orange shirt – the colors of his silks and the New York Mets baseball team, the fast-talking entrepreneur from Queens, NY explained how the game can raise your spirits, bring them down and then lift them up again. Was Repole’s outfit a fashion statement? No, you wouldn’t say that. But you’ve got to love a guy who will dress like a clown to bring a smile to people’s faces.
The rich became richer. Leading training Todd Pletcher saddled four winners, including the two for Repole. He produced winners Captain Webb for James T. Scatuorchio in the sixth race and Dark Thunder for Joseph Bernardini in the seventh. John Velazquez rode three of Pletcher’s winners. The meet’s leading rider Javier Castellano rode Stay Thirsty. Castellano also rode Zagora, the French-bred chestnut filly that won the gr.1 Diana Stakes for Martin S. Schwartz and trainer Chad Brown.
Two late scratches from the fourth race and one from the fifth by the vets caused a mild complaint. My Redbyrd took the $80,000 Hattie Moseley Stakes, proving that looks don’t matter. The three-year-old filly was fractious as all get out while loading into the gate, unseating Julien Leparoux before finally settling in. She was bumped at the break, raced three wide for most of the trip, and still won by daylight.
There couldn’t be a more ideal horse racing day than Saturday at Saratoga. The historic racecourse was crowded from stem to stern and the backyard was filled with picnic-goers. The track was fast. The sun shone brightly. Swing dancers Chance Bushman and Giselle Anguizola of New Orleans, LA brought a festive dimension to the music of Reggie’s Red Hot Feet Warmers. The VERSUS network’s overhead cameras lent an air of importance to the walking ring. With free Saratoga ball caps on offer Sunday, the Spa will swell again.
Caption:Swing dancers from New Orleans spice up the music of Reggie's Red Hot Feet
Photo: Vic Zast
Vic Zast is the author of “The History and Art of 25 Travers. He’s attended the races at Saratoga for 48 straight summers.