Solid betting handle, admission numbers on Spa opening day

A crowd of 27,760 watches the third race at Saratoga on Thursday.

A crowd of 27,760 watches the third race at Saratoga on Thursday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A crowd hungry to get back to the track helped bolster some solid numbers on opening day of the Saratoga Race Course meet on Thursday.

All-sources betting handle was $21,935,534, which included $4,023,700 on-track, compared to $15,754,227 and $3,087,839 in 2019, the last time fans were allowed on the track.

Weather likely was a factor, since opening day was rainy in 2019.

Thursday’s paid admission of 27,760 was over 5,000 more than 2019’s 22,591.

In 2020, when fans weren’t allowed to attend, Saratoga handled $19,100,297 on opening day.


The New York Racing Association and New York State Gaming Commission have placed Barn 86 at Saratoga under a precautionary quarantine until further notice due to a positive case of Equine Herpesvirus-1 in that barn, which is located across 5th Avenue from the Oklahoma Training Track.

An unnamed, unraced filly trained by Jorge Abreu was sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital on Sunday after developing a fever. She was subsequently tested for a number of potential ailments, and a positive test for EHV-1 was returned on Thursday afternoon. The filly began treatment immediately, and is improving under the care of Dr. Luis Castro, DVM.

Overseen by Dr. Anthony Verderosa, the director of NYRA’s veterinary department, in consultation with the NYSGC, the Barn 86 quarantine is effective immediately with standard precautions and biosecurity measures now in place.

The 46 horses stabled in Barn 86, which is home to stalls for Abreu and trainer Kenny McPeek, will be monitored daily for fever and other signs of illness.

During the initial quarantine period, these horses will not be permitted to enter races or train among the general horse population. Afebrile/asymptomatic horses stabled in Barn 86 will have isolated training hours at the Oklahoma Training Track following the close of training for the general horse population at 10 a.m.

The contagious EHV-1 can be transferred through the air from horse to horse and can cause respiratory disease in young horses.

Some horses may develop neurological signs leading to lack of coordination and weakness, and the virus can cause abortion in pregnant mares.


Maxfield, coming off a victory in the Grade II Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, will breeze at Saratoga this weekend in preparation for the Aug. 7 Whitney.

His only career defeat from eight starts was a third to Idol in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 6. This is Maxfield’s first trip to Saratoga.

“He’s doing great,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “He got here and seems to be enjoying Saratoga life.”

By racing four times already this year, Maxfield has equaled the total number of races he made in his 2- and 3-year-old seasons combined.

“It was just the frame of the horse as a 2-year-old and even as a 3-year-old, he wasn’t fully furnished,” Walsh said. “But he’s grown into himself now, and I think he can still get better and there’s more improvement in him.”


Echo Zulu, from the first crop of foals sired by 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, broke her maiden first time out by 5 1/2 lengths in the fifth race.

Gun Runner’s Horse of the Year campaign included wins at Saratoga in the Woodward and Whitney, when he crossed the finish line with a stray horseshoe tangled up in his tail.

Thursday’s fifth race was the second of two divisions of a maiden condition for 2-year-old fillies going 5 1/2 furlongs. In the second race on the card, Microbiome also won by 5 1/2 lengths, but Echo Zulu ran her heat in 1:04.69, almost a second faster than Microbiome’s 1:05.60.

Echo Zulu, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana, was purchased for $300,000 by Winchell Thoroughbreds at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

She is a half-sister to Echo Town, who won the Grade I Allen Jerkens at Saratoga last year.


Chad Brown sends out three contenders in Friday’s feature, the Grade III Forbidden Apple for horses 4 and up at a mile on the turf.

Value Proposition is the 5-2 morning-line favorite off an allowance win at Belmont Park on June 6, and Brown will also saddle 3-1 Sacred Life, third to Raging Bull in the Grade I Maker’s Mark Mile in April, and 6-1 Delaware in the 10-horse field.


Jockey Kendrick Carmouche will serve up his signature gumbo during a benefit for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at the Principessa Elena Society at 13 Oak Street from 6-9 p.m. on Monday.

The cost is $25 per person, with a 150-person limit. For more information, contact Fran LaBelle at 518-506-0705.

Carmouche is looking to resume riding at Saratoga after suffering a broken right ankle on Belmont Stakes Day June 5 when Kentucky Pharoah unseated him coming out of the starting gate. Kentucky Pharoah ran in the Quick Call on Thursday and finished last of six under Tyler Gaffalione.

Categories: Sports


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