At least four Saratoga-based jockeys will be bypassing the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. I) on Saturday to run in the Arlington Million (gr. I). Leading rider Joel Rosario will ride Little Mike, the winner of the Million last summer. Spa Course fans are beginning to see Rosario atop Todd Pletcher horses, all due it’s assumed to the fact that famed agent Ron Anderson has taken over his book.
Twice the fun of watching horses jumping fences was available. The first two races on the 11-race card were steeplechases. The second was the $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Barnstorming, owned and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, won at 5-1 odds. It is important to note that Sean McDermott was Barnstorming’s rider because of what happened to another of Sheppard’s riders. Darren Nagle started out with a Sheppard mount in the first and the second. But he moved from the saddle to the turf in both. The trainer must have wondered if super glue would have helped.
Steeplechase field on the backstretch.
The tote board for the third and fourth race was such that smart gamblers could make money without taking much risk. All a horseplayer’s pick in the third had to do was nip Pure Sensation in a five furlong sprint to set up a juicy exacta. Pure Sensation was betable based on his recent second to Corfu, the gritty Special (gr. II) and Sanford Stakes (gr. II) winner. Still this was an inexperienced bunch of maiden two-year-olds over which the eventual winner Aarons Orient, an Orientate colt trained by Steve Asmussen, could dominate and he did. Brabbham, a $1.2 million Shadwell yearling purchase, gave way at 2-1 to an All That and Dyker Beach exacta and two other runners in much the same way in the fourth.
A “mister” exacta clicked for $102.50 in the fifth race when steeplechase trainer Jack Fisher saddled Mr. Starr’s Report to win on the flat and Rudy Rodriguez saddled Mr Algebra for place. Fisher’s coasting along at a 40% win clip. For many in the crowd of 18,039, the highlight of the day may have come when Juddmonte Farms’ Slumber returned to action in an allowance/$100,000 optional claiming race. It was something to see the green silks with pink sash and cap – those same silks worn by the great miler Frankel – release from a tangle, swing four wide and blaze down the stretch.
No remnants of Fabulous Fillies Day were evident. The large wall of photos and histories of famous New York women was gone. No women’s choral groups entertained on the trinkets ‘n trash concourse. Most sadly, the art studio at the events tent was closed. For $20 a canvas, people could create a painting to their heart’s delight and most people painted horses. Nearly $600 was raised for Breast Cancer Research.
Horse art blooms in the events tent on Fabulous Fillies Day.
Former Barney’s fashion director and socialite Amanda Brooks documented her day at the track on Instagram.
Vic Zast has attended the races at Saratoga for 49 straight summers. He posts photos on Instagram.com, too.