Today is Day 15 of the Saratoga Race Course meet. Racing starts at 1:05 p.m.
RECENT STORIES FROM THE DAILY GAZETTE AT THE TRACK
“Sneak peeks: Young trainer O’Brien, three weeks at the Spa, and what’s to come,” by Mike MacAdam with photos from Erica Miller
The future has arrived.
The past will be here shortly.
A promising long career as a trainer is in the making for Joseph Patrick O’Brien, the apple-cheeked 29-year-old from Ireland whose last name invokes the decades of success enjoyed by his father, Aidan.
Joseph O’Brien was an interesting presence at Saratoga Race Course on the second Friday of the meet, as he flew across the Atlantic Ocean to saddle two maidens.
We’re not expecting to see his father, the long-time head trainer for one of the most powerful racing operations in the world, this weekend, but he does have a horse in Saturday’s $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational, Stone Age, who arrived on Sunday.
“Rockemperor gets the jump on Arklow to win Bowling Green,” by Mike MacAdam with photos from Erica Miller
Trainer Chad Brown drew up a gameplan for Rockemperor heading into the Grade II Bowling Green at Saratoga Race Course on Sunday. Jockey Flavien Prat executed it perfectly.
Trainer Brad Cox had one for his horse, Arklow, also.
And the way Arklow was flying at the end, he might’ve won this race, but jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., accepted some culpability for his judgment coming off the last of three turns, when Arklow was boxed in by Rockemperor and had to wait just long enough to get outside for running room that he fell a half-length short at the wire.
“Gunite returns to familiar Spa winner’s circle by taking the Amsterdam,” by Mike MacAdam with photos from Erica Miller
Is there an echo in here?
For the second day in a row, a former Hopeful winner trained by Steve Asmussen won a graded stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
The 4-year-old Jackie’s Warrior, the 2021 champion male sprinter, easily won the Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt on Saturday, then on Sunday his 3-year-old stablemate, Gunite, won the Grade II Amsterdam, a race Jackie’s Warrior won last year on his way to the Eclipse Award.
“Epicenter gets back to the winner’s circle, in the Jim Dandy,” by Mike MacAdam with photos from Erica Miller
There were two different definitions of the word “relieved” for trainer Steve Asmussen on Saturday.
There was pressure on Jackie’s Warrior to set a Saratoga Race Course historical precedent in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt in the eighth-race stakes. He did that, with an easy win.
Then in the ninth race, the Grade II Jim Dandy, relief came in a different form.
Against three talented rivals, Asmussen’s hard-luck colt, Epicenter, faced the prospect of heading back to the barn without a pit stop and photo in the winner’s circle, again.
“Jackie’s Warrior makes Saratoga history with dominating Vanderbilt win,” by Mike MacAdam with photos from Erica Miller
How many people can exclaim “Immortality, baby!” at Saratoga Race Course and not sound like a blowhard bettor with an inflated opinion of the chalky dime superfecta they just hit?
Steve Asmussen pulled it off on Saturday, and it didn’t sound absurd at all.
The Hall of Fame trainer has had his share of Saratoga moments, including becoming the all-time leader in career victories in North America at last year’s meet.
Jackie’s Warrior had been responsible for four such memorable moments for Asmussen and his barn, and made it five on Saturday when he won the Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt in such comfortably dominating fashion that veteran jockey Joel Rosario may have had the easiest assignment of his career.
With the win, Jackie’s Warrior became the first horse ever to win Grade I races in three consecutive seasons at Saratoga, where they’ve been racing since 1863.
“A convicted felon, an old racehorse, and a Second Chance for both,” by Mike MacAdam with photos from Erica Miller
“Look at that dig,” Tyler Frame gushed last Sunday morning, admiring how a Thoroughbred vigorously reached out and pulled its forelegs through the dirt surface during training hours on the main track at Saratoga Race Course.
The subject of the “powerhouse” hindquarters, the engine of muscle pushing the horse’s forward momentum, came up more than a few times, too.
And if a gray walked by, forget it. Frame all but swooned.
In December of 2013, Frame, then known as Tyler William Murray, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of second-degree arson in Washington County (Maryland) Circuit Court. He was sentenced a month later to 15 years at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility in Sykesville for his role in a three-week arson spree that caused almost a half-million dollars in damage.
Little did he know, but somewhere out there was an old retired Thoroughbred, also with 13 “counts” against him, who Frame, now 30, says turned his turbulent life around.
Artorius had the potential and the regal breeding but, much like his late sire, Arrogate, didn’t make his racing debut until April of his 3-year-old season.
And, much like his sire, a first trip over the Saratoga Race Course surface showed just how much that potential could pay off.
For Arrogate, that came in his record-setting victory in the 2016 Travers Stakes. For Artorius, it was a dominant 4 3/4-length victory in Friday’s $135,000 Curlin Stakes that came in just his third career start and should set the tone for trainer and Mechanicville native Chad Brown to send him into this year’s Travers.
“Robin Sparkles’ long, ‘improbable’ road to becoming a graded stakes winner at Saratoga Race Course,” by Teresa A. Genaro with photos from Erica Miller
“Improbable” would be a generous way to describe Robin Sparkles’ route to the winner’s circle for a graded stakes race at Saratoga Race Course.
Her dam, My Sparky, was modestly successful, winning five races from 17 starts and earning $147,000. In 2014, My Sparky was sold at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale, a sale that, while useful, carries none of the prestige of the company’s August yearling sales. Her sale price was $5,700.
My Sparky’s first two foals didn’t bring a lot of money at auction, and they didn’t do much on the racetrack, either. In 2016, she was supposed to be bred to Girolamo, but two cover attempts failed, and she ended up being bred to Elusive Quality—a stallion upgrade for sure, but one that happened wholly by accident.
“Chatting at the track with … NYRA analyst Maggie Wolfendale,” by Will Springstead with photos from Erica Miller
Maggie Wolfendale is a third-generation – “on both sides” – horsewoman who says she basically grew up in barn 18 at Laurel Park in Maryland. She currently serves as a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, for whom she has worked since 2010, and is a fixture at Saratoga Race Course throughout the summer.
In that time, her role has grown, as she quickly became known for her astute paddock analysis. These days, you can find her hosting shows, doing post-race interviews — some on horseback — or pretty much anything she is asked to, since she’s that versatile.
Her versatility comes from putting the hours in, quite impressive given that she is married to a fellow trainer – that’s right, she has her trainer’s license – Tom Morley and is a mother of two young daughters, Willow and Grace. She also is involved with horses’ aftercare as a member of the board of directors for Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
TODAY’S RACING INFO