Thursday, August 27 2009


FIDDLERS AFLEET SETS SAIL IN ALBANY


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Odds-on favorite Fiddlers Afleet held off a determined late charge from Slevin Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course to take the 32nd running of the Albany Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds by a head.

Ridden by Saratoga’s leading jockey, Ramon Dominguez, the son of Northern Afleet grabbed the lead coming out of the gate and zipped through fractions of 22.83, 46.02 and 1:10.36 while being shadowed by Pocket Cowboys, and then had enough left to turn back Slevin while hitting the wire in 1:49.78.





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MUNNINGS, BIG DRAMA CUT BACK IN NETJETS KING’S BISHOP


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The last time Munnings faced the starter, the brilliant sprinter attempted to stretch his speed 1 1/8th miles in an attempt to topple star filly Rachel Alexandra and Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. One day earlier, another blazing sprinter, Big Drama, took on a remarkably similar challenge, facing Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby on August 1.

Neither colt won, but both turned in big efforts and proved they rank among the best in the 3-year-old division. On Saturday the two will clash at what is likely their favorite distance — seven furlongs — in the Grade 1, $300,000 NetJets King’s Bishop at Saratoga Race Course.





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TRIPLE CROWN CONNECTION WINNERS ANNOUNCED AT SARATOGA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Three lucky fans won the opportunity today in Saratoga Race Course’s “Triple Crown Connection” contest to have a meet-and-greet with this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes winners on Wednesday, August 26.

Bob Anthony of Hamden, Conn. will get to meet Derby winner Mine That Bird, Elizabeth Lis of Amsterdam, N.Y. will get to meet Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, and Wanda Powell of Tannersville, N.Y. will get to meet Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird. In addition to spending time with the superstar thoroughbreds and their trainers, the winners will also receive breakfast for four on the porch and a Clubhouse box for four.





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SIX FILLIES READY TO DANCE IN BALLERINA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Saturday’s 31st running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Ballerina has attracted some of the top sprinting talent in the country, with six 4-year-old fillies going postward in the seven-furlong contest.

At the head of the field is Augustin Stables’ Informed Decision, undefeated in her last five starts, all at seven furlongs. With a lifetime record of 8-0-1 from 10 races, the daughter of Monarchos has turned in two bullet works since her last win, an easy 4¾-length score in the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park.





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Wednesday, August 26 2009


DEFINING MOMENT FOR MANY IN SHADWELL TRAVERS


SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY. – For each of its seven participants, the 140th running of Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes encompasses an array of possibilities beyond even the glamour and excitement of winning one of the most recognizable races for 3-year-olds in the United States.

Traditionally, the prestige and the purse alone guarantee a compelling event, but this year’s “Mid-Summer Derby” offers both veterans of the Triple Crown trail and late-bloomers the chance to step up and take their place as leaders in a divisional race that could go down to the wire.





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PURSE HIKES IN 4 OF 11 OFF-THE-TURFERS FROM INCENTIVE PROGRAM DURING WEEK FOUR AT SARATOGA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Ten more races, including four of the 11 races taken off the turf, qualified under the purse incentive program created to increase field size during Week Four of the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet, according to The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA). Purse increases from incentives during the meet’s fourth week totaled $83,020, a 20.3 percent advance over the original purse values.

From 239 races run at the meet’s two-thirds point, 56 (23.4 percent) have qualified under the program. The total purse increase to date is $405,690, a 17.2 percent advance over original purse values.





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MINE THAT BIRD TO SKIP SHADWELL TRAVERS STAKES


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach and trainer Chip Woolley announced Wednesday that Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird would not enter Saturday’s 140th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers, citing continued concerns about an entrapped epiglottis that was repaired on August 18.

“We’ve decided to err on the side of caution and pass this race up and aim down the road to the Breeders’ Cup,” Woolley said. “There’s one little spot underneath the epiglottis pushing up just a tiny bit and after studying and looking at it, we’re going to hold off and make sure the horse is okay and not take any chances with the rest of his career.”





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MINE THAT BIRD WORKS, TRAVERS DECISION WEDNESDAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird breezed this morning at Saratoga Race Course for the first time since undergoing minor throat surgery last week and the next 24 hours should determine whether he will run in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes.

“Doc (Dr. James Hunt) is happy with the way he looked today,” said trainer Chip Woolley of Mine That Bird, who had an entrapped epiglottis repaired last Tuesday at the Ruffian Equine Medical Center next to Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. “He’ll look at it again in the morning, and we’ll make a final decision in the morning.





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Tuesday, August 25 2009


SILVERCUP BABY RUNNETH OVER FIELD IN UNION AVENUE


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Silvercup Baby broke from the gate on top then set up in an ideal stalking position — just as trainer Carl Domino ordered — before powering past tiring leader Dance Gal Dance with less than a furlong to go to win the $70,000 Union Avenue on Monday at Saratoga Race Course.

Ridden for the first time by jockey Javier Castellano, the Eric Brophy homebred daughter of American Chance won the six-furlong sprint for New York-bred fillies and mares in 1:10.28. As the $10.40-to-1 fourth choice in the field of six, Silvercup Baby paid $22.80 for a $2 win bet.





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SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Monday, August 24, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Edward P. Evans’ Quality Road put in his final breeze before Saturday’s 140th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers at Saratoga Race Course, covering five furlongs Monday morning over the muddy main track in 59.68, fourth fastest of 24 at the distance.

“It felt good, very good. I wanted to do enough, but not let him do too much,” said jockey John Velazquez, on board for the work in company with stablemate Unbridled Belle, a 6-year-old mare also trained by Todd Pletcher. “As soon as I got right to the other horse, he got into the bridle and then I had him slow down a little bit. I didn’t want to let him do too much down the lane.”





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RACHEL ALEXANDRA TO WOODWARD; PURSE HIKED TO $750,000


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Rachel Alexandra will attempt to make history again as she takes on older males for the first time in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, September 5, trainer Steve Asmussen announced Monday.

Jess Jackson’s 3-year-old filly, a leading contender for Horse of the Year after having twice defeated colts in the Preakness and Haskell Invitational, is attempting to become the first female to win the 1 1/8th mile Woodward, won last year by Jackson’s two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.





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WEATHER UNSETTLED BUT NUMBERS STILL UP THROUGH SPA WEEK FOUR


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Attendance remains up 1.2 percent, on-track handle up 3.2 percent, and all-sources handle up 1.0 percent from 2008 totals two-thirds through the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet despite a week of unstable weather and unpredictable forecasts resulting in fewer betting interests and 11 races taken off the turf, the first since opening week.

· Attendance for the first 24 days of the 2009 meet is 588,173, up from 581,021 in 2008, for a daily average of 24,507 compared to 24,209. (*See Note on attendance below.)





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