Saratoga Race Course

Dream Central gives Schenectady native Fazzone a dream ride in Suzie O’Cain (with 11 photos)

Eddie F’s Racing owner Eddie Fazzone, of Dream Central, gives thumbs up with trainer Gary Sciacca after winning the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday.
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Eddie F’s Racing owner Eddie Fazzone, of Dream Central, gives thumbs up with trainer Gary Sciacca after winning the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS Eddie Fazzone could barely speak, his vocal chords shot from rooting for his filly Dream Central.

But he had plenty to say.

The Schenectady native and Mont Pleasant High school graduate, who runs the popular Eddie F’s seafood restaurant in Saratoga Springs with his wife, Lisa, a Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons grad, first owned Thoroughbreds in the 1990s, but had never won a race of any kind at his hometown track.

That changed on Wednesday, and in a big way, as Dream Central and jockey Jose Lezcano barely got up in time to beat even-money betting favorite She’s a Mia by a head in the $125,000 Suzie O’Cain stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies on the turf.

The race was named for O’Cain, who co-managed Highcliff Farm in Delanson with her husband, Dr. C. Lynwood “Doc” O’Cain, after she died in January following a bout with breast cancer. Suzie O’Cain served on the board of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and was a New York Thoroughbred Breeders board member for 28 years.

She and Fazzone were friends, and the stakes victory for Eddie F’s Racing was even more poignant for him since the Fazzones’ son, Edward Fazzone III, had died at the age of 33 on July 14, 2019. Since his death, the Fazzones have been active in fund-raising for support programs for people recovering from substance abuse.

“First one here, man, and just a great race to win,” Eddie Fazzone said, with a rough, hoarse voice. “Suzie was a great friend, she came in the restaurant all the time. It was an emotional week. My son died three years ago this week, and it was his birthday on Monday, so to win this is a great, great … I can’t be more happy than what I am right now.”

Trained by Fazzone’s long-time friend, Gary Sciacca, Dream Central has won stakes races in her last two starts, both with Lezcano in the irons, after having gone 0-for-6 in maiden races to start her career.

She was coming off a victory in a New York Stallion Series stakes by a neck at odds of 39-1 at Belmont Park on June 19.

Suzie O’Cain stakes (11 photos)

Eddie F’s Racing owner Eddie Fazzone ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Dream Central, trained by Gary Sciacca and owned by Eddie F’s Racing, enters the paddock for the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Dream Central, trained by Gary Sciacca and owned by Eddie F’s Racing, ridden by Jose Lezcano wins past She’s a Mia, trained by Christophe Clement ridden by Joel Rosario, in the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Dream Central, trained by Gary Sciacca and owned by Eddie F’s Racing, ridden by Jose Lezcano wins past She’s a Mia, trained by Christophe Clement ridden by Joel Rosario, in the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Dream Central, trained by Gary Sciacca and owned by Eddie F’s Racing, ridden by Jose Lezcano wins past She’s a Mia, trained by Christophe Clement ridden by Joel Rosario, in the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Start of the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Dream Central, trained by Gary Sciacca and owned by Eddie F’s Racing, ridden by Jose Lezcano in winners circle after winning the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Eddie F’s Racing owner Eddie Fazzone walks in Dream Central, trained by Gary Sciacca ridden by Jose Lezcano, into winners circle for the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Eddie F’s Racing owner Eddie Fazzone highfives Jose Lezcano atop Dream Central, trained by Gary Sciacca, after winning the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Eddie F’s Racing owner Eddie Fazzone, of Dream Central, gives thumbs up with trainer Gary Sciacca after winning the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE
Eddie F’s Racing owner Eddie Fazzone, of Dream Central, in smiles after winning the inaugural Suzie O’Cain Stakes ERICA MILLER/THE DAILY GAZETTE

Dream Central went off at 9-1 in the Suzie O’Cain and got in position to make a stretch run with a wide trip, changing leads just outside the eighth pole for the final surge.

“I started thinking, ‘All right, man, second’s OK,’” Fazzone said. “Then I saw her keep grinding away, and I was like, ‘Man, she’s going to do it.’

“I knew the race today was a little tougher than the last race. But she’s been doing great. Gary had her ready, and I knew she was ready. I wasn’t sure about the mile and sixteenth, and it’s been three and a half, four weeks off the last race. But we always knew she had a lot of talent. Tried her on the dirt, and she was totally turf.”

“She’s 2-for-2 in stakes races, but I couldn’t break her maiden,” Sciacca said with a laugh. “She had a little bit of trouble at times and probably should’ve broken her maiden.

“Lezcano was very confident the first time he rode her. He came into the paddock today, I said, ‘What do you think?’ and he said, ‘Let’s let her relax, we’ll maybe make one run and see what happens.’ It was great.”

If Dream Central comes out of the Suzie O’Cain OK, Fazzone wants to run her back in the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series on Aug. 18.

Eddie F’s Racing is a small operation, with just 11 horses in training, so winning the stakes, Fazzone’s first win ever at Saratoga, carried extra meaning for him.

“My first win at Saratoga this year, and it was a stakes race and he’s one of my best friends,” Sciaccca said. “Known him for 35 years, and you put something together like this, it’s great. Saratoga is so tough, and I know it meant so much to Eddie to win up here, even a regular race, never mind a stakes race. We’d be happy with a claiming race.”

“I’ll be a little hoarse for the next couple days,” Fazzone said. “I get into the race a little bit. It’s just overwhelming. Coming in here, I wanted to win a race so bad, and to win a stakes race, and it’s the Suzie O’Cain, I can’t be more blessed than I am right now.

More Saratoga Racing Coverage: At The Track

DOWN ROYAL TAKES SMITHWICK

Bernard Dalton had a little trouble with his short-term memory on Wednesday.

Fortunately for him and his mount, Down Royal, Dalton’s internal clock was working just fine.

So were Down Royal’s legs and lungs.

She got up just before the wire to win the Grade I A.P. Smithwick steeplechase stakes by a neck over Chief Justice in the first race on the card.

Under new whip rules from the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, jockeys are only permitted to use the stick a total of six times on a horse’s hindquarters in a race, and Dalton had lost count.

But his well-timed move from sixth place in the seven-horse field was a winning one.

“Quite frankly, I was trying to remember how many times I had hit her,” Dalton said, when asked what was going through his head near the finish line.

“I’m coming to the wire thinking, ‘Can I hit her one more?’ I decided I couldn’t, so I put it down. She’s very generous. She gives you her best, anyway, so she didn’t need the extra slap.”

The A.P. Smithwick win was particularly gratifying to trainer Kate Dalton, since she and her husband Bernard bred and own the 8-year-old gray mare.

Kate Dalton said she believed she had a shot to win “about a stride from the wire.”

“She was coming around the far turn and moving forward into third and frankly, I was delighted with that,” she said. “The others were backing up and if she ended up staying where she is and being third, it would be a great run. But then she got up to second and it didn’t look like she was going to pass Chief Justice and I was delighted with second, but she just kept giving 100%. It’s what she does. I don’t know why she’s suddenly got so good, but she has.”

“He [Bernard] turned her in and when I went to catch him, he said, ‘I thought you might have fainted.’”

The victory was Kate Dalton’s second in a Grade I at Saratoga, after Diplomat won the 2017 New York Turf Writers Handicap, since renamed for Jonathan Sheppard.

Running against six males, Down Royal tracked the leaders from the back of the pack on the inside.

She angled to the outside after clearing the last of seven fences and took advantage of a tentative jump by Chief Justice there.

“I used to gallop at Saratoga for 10-15 years for Kiaran McLaughlin, and the one thing working for a guy like that gets you is a clock in your head,” Bernard Dalton said. “I knew the first time around I was traveling well, but I knew they were going fast, and in this heat, most of the horses were off of Lasix for the first time, you’re hoping more than knowing that they’re going to back up after the last, and that was kind of the case.

“This filly, she got me my 100th winner at Nashville over jumps in America. You can’t write that script, and to come here and win a Grade I on a filly that you own, bred and have ridden probably 99.9% of the time in her eight years, you can’t describe the feeling it gives you to accomplish this.”
Kate Dalton said Down Royal probably won’t run back in the Jonathan Sheppard, in part because it’s 5-16 of a mile longer, but also because “there’s a lot of heavy hitters coming into the Jonathan Sheppard. Snap Decision is coming back; The Mean Queen might come back, and there’s a couple of them waiting in the wings for the longer race. I would say I’d doubt it, but never say never.”

Pistol Whipped led the A.P. Smithwick early but was pulled up by jockey Nicolai DeBoinville after struggling with the third and fifth fences. Pistol Whipped was vanned off.

HASKELL DRAW

The Bob Baffert-trained Taiba is the slight 7-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, over undefeated Jack Christopher (3-2).

The eight-horse field, in post position order from the rail out, will be: 1. Cyberknife (6-1); 2. Taiba (7-5); 3. One Time Willard (30-1); 4. Howling Time (10-1); 5. King of Hollywood (30-1); 6. White Abarrio (5-1); 7. Jack Christopher (3-2); 8. Benevengo (20-1).

Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba was 12th in the Kentucky Derby while Baffert was serving a suspension for the drug positive that got Medina Spirit disqualified from the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Taiba was transferred to Tim Yakteen’s barn for the Santa Anita and Kentucky derbies.

Trained by Chad Brown, Jack Christopher has won all four career starts, most recently the Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day, by a combined 25 1-4 lengths.

Brown is sending Preakness winner Early Voting and Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Zandon to the July 30 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Epicenter and Tawny Port are also expected for the Jim Dandy.

More Saratoga Racing Coverage: At The Track

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