SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The third time was a charm for Schenectady native Ed Stanco.
He heard the chants of "Ed-die, Ed-die!" after Princess of Sylmar won the Kentucky Oaks, again after she won the Coaching Club American Oaks and once more today at Saratoga Race Course, in the biggest race of Stanco's life.
His filly, the only horse Stanco has racing, rolled to a 2 1/2-length victory in the 133rd running of the Grade I Alabama, perhaps locking up the 3-year-old filly championship in the process.
Weak-kneed in anticipation less than an hour before the race, Stanco watched Princess of Sylmar stalk the front-runners, then take over on the grandstand turn to beat four rivals in authoritative fashion under Javier Castellano.
"Today is incredibly special; it's the best day of our lives in horse racing," said the 63-year-old Stanco, a 1967 Linton High graduate who frequented Saratoga in his younger days. "She does it effortlessly. It's nuts. It's crazy."
With five wins and a second in six starts this year, Princess of Sylmar might not race again this year to rest up for a 4-year-old campaign. Still, her resume will be very difficult to beat for the Eclipse Award.
"I have to think so," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "The Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks -- that's a pretty hard trifecta to win, so I'll say she has definitely established herself as the champion 3-year-old filly, unless somebody else does something big."