SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Bob Baron of Voorheesville named his horse Promises Fulfilled to represent how he and his wife Debbie had made a good life through 44 years of marriage, not only for themselves, but for their kids and grandkids.
He named the colt on their wedding anniversary, no less.
Life got even better for the Barons Saturday, when Promises Fulfilled cruised to victory in the Grade III Amsterdam at Saratoga Race Course.
Bob Baron has been coming to Saratoga since the 1960s, a few years before the former RPI quarterback graduated from college. He began owning horses in the 1990s, but no thrill ride so far has topped that of Promises Fulfilled, who was 15th in the Kentucky Derby, but showed on Saturday that he could thrive in sprints instead of route races.
“We were up and down and screaming like a bunch of idiots. You know what I mean,” Baron said. “I just feel good for the horse. That sounds funny, but he’s a neat horse. I go see him every day, he sticks his head out. He’s smart. He doesn’t kick, doesn’t bite, just does everything the way you’re supposed to do it.”
Ridden by red-hot jockey Luis Saez and trained by Baron’s friend Dale Romans, Promises Fulfilled sat off the blistering pace set by Strike Power, who went a quarter-mile in 21.28 and a half in 43.92, and took command on the turn.
Engage went off a slight betting favorite at even money, but couldn’t come close to Promises Fulfilled, who won by 3 1/4 lengths.
Romans picked Promises Fulfilled out of the 2016 September Keeneland sale for a relatively cheap price of $37,000, and the son of Romans’ Preakness winner Shackleford won the Grade II Fountain of Youth in March. After the Derby defeat, Romans got him back to sprinting with a third in the Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day.
“Bob’s my good friend, and it’s a local boy done well,” Romans said. “That’s what this game is all about. This game is the greatest sport there is. You can buy a thirty-thousand-dollar horse and you can compete with a three-million-dollar horse. In this game, you just don’t know.
“I’ve been saying I haven’t won a race in a month, been having the blues the last week or two, all you need is to win at Saratoga, and life is good again.”
“What I like is, we won the Fountain of Youth, they got down on him a little bit because of the [Kentucky] Derby, and now he comes back and we put him in a different spot and to win sprinting is great,” Baron said. “It gives us a lot more options. That’s why I say I’m happy for the horse.”
The plainly obvious option is the Grade I Allen Jerkens on Travers Day Aug. 25, and Romans said that that would be the objective.
Baseball may be a game of inches -- plural -- but horse racing was a game of no inches at all in the Grade II Bowling Green.
Glorious Empire, a 22-1 long shot, led all the way, including at the wire, but by then Channel Maker had caught all the way up, and nothing separated them in a dead heat.
“We wanted to get him out there by himself and let him settle, and hopefully get away with easy fractions,” trainer James Lawrence said of Glorious Empire. “A the top of the lane, I didn’t think they would catch him.”
“We got there, I just wish we go one inch further, but it was still a good race and I’m proud of the horse,” trainer Bill Mott said of Channel Maker.
Glorious Empire’s victory was the first of the meet for jockey Julien Leparoux, and his counterpart on Channel Maker, Joel Rosario, said he thought he had won outright.
“I thought for a second we had the horse on the inside, but he kept running,” Rosario said.
While the Bowling Green produced the tightest finish possible, the two graded stakes sprints on the Jim Dandy card were impressive blowouts.
One race after Promises Fulfilled won the Amsterdam, Imperial Hint blew away the field in the Grade I A.G. Vanderbilt by 3 3/4 lengths under a hand ride from Javier Castellano.
Imperial Hint’s finish time (1:08.98) did not threaten the track record (1:08, Spanish Riddle in 1972; 1:08.04, Speightstown in 2004), but it didn’t need to, from the way Imperial Hint won with authority.
“I could have opened up by 10 [lengths], but he is a great horse and I enjoyed the ride,” Castellano said.
The Vanderbilt was the first Grade I victory in the career of trainer Luis Carvajal.