So long Saratoga

As is always expected, the six week Saratoga meet was sensational with a number of sensational performances, countless frustrating moments, and memories that will last forever (or at least until new ones begin on July 28, 2010).  Let’s take a look at some of the best performers of the meet of both equine and human variety and some of the worst.

Most Outstanding Jockey- Ramon Dominguez. It’s tough to deny that Dominguez was spectacular at this meet.  He has now won consecutive riding titles at Aqueduct (Winter & Spring), Belmont and Saratoga and has clearly become the best rider in NY.

Honorable Mention- Rajiv Maragh.  He didn’t push Dominguez for the top spot but Maragh showed incredible growth from his prior Saratoga meet in 2008 and from earlier in 2009.  He has become equally adept on turf and dirt, is a strong finisher, and can ride frontrunners like nobody’s business.

Most Disappointing Jockey- Eibar Coa.  An opening weekend trip to West Virginia and New Jersey set Coa back and he never gained any momentum at the meet.  He wound up with a paltry six victories and will need a fast start at Belmont to erase the memories of a terrible Saratoga.

Most Outstanding Trainer- Linda Rice.  She was the leading trainer in nearly wire-to-wire fashion as she took the reins in Week 3 and won a pitched battle in the closing week with trainer Todd Pletcher.  Was Linda a bit one-dimensional?  I suppose, given all of her 20 winners came in races scheduled for the main track.  However, she was very good for an extended period of time, which is exactly what you need to take down the top prize at the Spa.

Most Disappointing Trainer- Bruce Levine.  A 1-48 run at the Spa with an ROI of $0.14 was not what this high powered trainer was expecting.  In all fairness, Levine did have 13 in the money finishers but he just could not get anything going on the win end.

Best 2YO- Hot Dixie Chick.  Male or female, this gal was sensational in two victories as she cruised after tracking the pace in the Schuylerville on opening day then finishing with power and purpose in the Spinaway on the penultimate program of the meet.

Honorable Mention- Dublin.  Hadn’t it been long enough that D. Wayne Lukas was not involved in the big late season 2YO races?  He is back in full force as his sharp-looking chestnut son of Afleet Alex earned both a maiden win at the meet and a handy score in the Hopeful. 

Best 3YO- Summer Bird.  After a good 2nd place effort in the Haskell, this guy posted a breakthrough performance in the Travers as his final quarter-mile was powerful.  He is clearly at the upper echelon of the 3YOs and the discussion for champion 3YO male begins with this guy.

Honorable Mention- Capt. Candyman Can.  After a gallant runner-up finish in the Amsterdam many wondered what this courageous gelding by Candy Ride would have when push came to shove in the King’s Bishop.  He answered plainly with a strong effort where he actually finished 2nd but was placed 1st in one of the easiest disqualifications the stewards will deal with this year.

Best 3YO filly- Careless Jewel.  Wait, I know, you’re wondering, uh, isn’t there only one option for Best 3YO filly at this meet?  Keep reading.  This daughter of Tapit was the orchestrator of a breakthrough performance of her own as she wrecked the field in the Alabama tracking a solid pace then kicking strongly clear in the final quarter-mile.  She has come to hand at once and is a legitimate threat in the big late season races.

Best turfer- Justenuffhumor.  After four consecutive allowance wins on the turf this guy had some questions to answer in the Fourstardave about whether he could handle graded stakes competition.  After winning the Fourstardave with nifty ground-saving trip he ran down Cowboy Cal to win the Bernard Baruch 26 days later.  He is a turf miler with a bright future.

Horse of the Meet- Rachel Alexandra.  How could you go any other direction?  She captivated the hearts and minds of the racing world with her stirring Woodward win and has proven time and again that she is so special and is deserving of all of the accolades given to her by the media and everyone involved in the game.

Race of the Meet- The Woodward.  It may have taken until the 34th day of the meet but there is no doubt this was the best race of the meet.  It had everything you could ask for, a favorite who is universally loved by all, a couple of improving older horses ready and a task that history had proven was too tall for any prior participant.

I hope in whichever way it was an enjoyable meet for each and every one of you.  There were low points, of course, but oh so many high points that made this meet one for the ages.  The best thing you can remember about these terrific 36 days is that there’s only 323 days until Saratoga 2010!

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3 Responses to “So long Saratoga”

  1. Keith - Triple Dead Heat Says:

    As a Woodbine regular, I like the nod to Careless Jewel. The Alabama was an unofficial “Canada Day” at the Spa. Canadian-owned/trained/ridden horse wins and the Canadian-bred Milwaukee Appeal holds on for second. Good stuff!

    Great recap.

    Cheers

    Keith

  2. Nick Tammaro Says:

    Keith-

    Careless Jewel was spectacular in the Alabama and convinced me and many others that she is a very good filly. I hope to see her in the Beldame on October 3.

    Nick

  3. John Schuler Says:

    I’d have trouble counting the number of races that I’ve lost over the years because of E. Coa… Nice to know that at least he’s consistent.

    John

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