SARATOGA SPRINGS — No matter the actual meteorological conditions at any given time, it’s been Clement weather at Saratoga Race Course through six days of racing.
Trainer Christophe Clement continued his torrid start to the meet with three more winners on Thursday, including another stakes win, with Fresco in the Statue of Liberty Division of the New York Stallion Series.
He capped is day with Simplicity’s win in the six, giving the Paris, France native his ninth winner from 20 starts, well on pace for his best Saratoga season ever.
Besides Fresco, Clement has won two other stakes, the Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame with Decorated Invader on Saturday and the Grade II Lake Placid with Speaktomeofsummer on Sunday.
He actually was winless for the first two days of the meet, and has won nine over the last four days.
“Every year, when we start, from the beginning to the end, you’re trying to win, so it’s working out and kicking in at the right time and the right place,” Clement said. “But I’ve been doing this for quite a while, and I’m a lucky guy. This is great. It just happens that way. Maybe we won’t be winning next week. That’s racing. But I’m very much enjoying it.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. was in the saddle for Fresco’s win, but much of Clement’s success has come with Joel Rosario in the saddle.
He rode both Decorated Invader and Speaktomeofsummer, and has been aboard for six of Clement’s wins, including Simplicity and Plum Ali in the third race on Thursday.
Fresco was bet down to 1-2 and overtook front-runner Dixie Cannon outside the sixteenth pole to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
“We were trying to wait with the filly because she likes to hang a little bit,” said Ortiz, who rode five winners on the card. “We tried to wait as long as we could today. She broke a little sharp, I took a little hold and she relaxed so well that I just left her there.”
“Irad did a great job,” Clement said. “He took her back and saved ground. You could see they did not finish that fast, so he did the right thing, which was to save something for the end.
“It’s fun, because when you break your maiden in the stakes for her owner/breeder, now she has black type, so it works for the whole program. Usually, the owner will sell his colts and keep his fillies and he has been very successful with a small broodmare band. He bred Audible, he bred Therapist and he bred this filly and I’m just lucky to be a part of the program.”
Trainer Jack Fisher is ready to send in reinforcements.
He’s looking forward to running Moscato back in the Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup on Aug. 20, after Moscato won the Grade I A.P. Smithwick on Thursday.
But Fisher is wary of Optimus Prime, who made a strong bid in the A.P. Smithwick before being caught by Moscato late to finish second by three-quarters of a length.
After Snap Decision opened the Saratoga steeplechase season by wining the Jonathan Kiser Novice for Fisher on Wednesday, he’s considering taking two swings at Optimus Prime, who won the New York Turf Writers in 2018, next time.
“I thought we were in serious trouble on the turn,” Fisher said. “Optimus Prime cruised up there, but he hadn’t run in a year and I think he might have needed the race and just ran out of gas in the last sixteenth.
“I think he’ll be very tough next time. I might throw the other horse, Snap Decision, at him, too. We’ll probably run them both in the Turf Writers.”
Jockey Michael Mitchell kept Moscato inside early and found his way outside coming off the final turn to make a run at Optimus Prime.
“I had to work to keep him in position early,” Mitchell said. “The pace was good early on. I was comfortable with where we were, and he jumped fantastically. He really met every fence nicely and covered the ground well. They just started to slow up coming into the turn and we had to weave through a couple of horses.
“Coming out of the turn, he got trapped for a little bit of room, but his stamina kicked in and he really went well to the line and got his head in front at the right time.
“The ground actually suits these jumpers a little bit more. It’s good a good grass cover and we had a little bit of rain last night, which helps these horses. Being foreign-bred they just enjoy a bit more sponginess and cut in the ground, so it wasn’t an issue being wide, it was more about keeping the momentum throughout the race.”
WINNER FOR AMERICA’S PASTIME
It was fitting that as Major League Baseball finally got underway on Thursday, America’s Pastime Stables finally got its first-ever victory at Saratoga.
Amsterdam Mohawks general manager Brian Spagnola is the managing partner of the Capital Region-based ownership group, whose red-white-and-blue silks feature a baseball and the initials “AP.”
“We’ve had 11 wins as a stable, and actually had nine between October and February, so we were on a hot streak over the winter,” Spagnola said. “Obviously, winter racing is a little easier than Saratoga, but winning at Saratoga certainly is the culmination of everything.”
Spagnola said there are about 70 people with at least a fractional share in the stable, which has 13 horses in training and some horses as breeding stock. They hope to have two entered in races next week, and since Bertranda, who was ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., wasn’t claimed out of her race, she could show up later in the meet.
“It helps when you have Irad, who’s good for a couple lengths,” Spagnola said.