Tuesday, August 11 2009


RACHEL ALEXANDRA BREEZES AT SPA; NEXT START STILL UP IN AIR


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Preakness-winning filly Rachel Alexandra put in her first work at Saratoga Race Course this morning in preparation for her as-yet-to-be-determined next start, covering a half-mile in 50.72 under exercise rider Dominic Terry.

With trainer Steve Asmussen, Barbara Banke (wife of Stonestreet Stable owner Jess Jackson), and a host of onlookers watching, the 3-year-old filly stepped onto the Oklahoma training track at about 6 a.m. for her first serious move since beating the boys again in the Haskell Invitational on August 2. Clockers for The New York Racing Association, Inc. caught Rachel Alexandra in splits of 13.50 and 26.22, galloping out in 1:04.44.





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POSITIVE TRENDS CONTINUE THROUGH WEEK TWO AT THE SPA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Attendance is up 4.8 percent, on-track handle up 8.3 percent, and all-sources handle marginally down 1.7 percent from 2008 totals through Week Two of the 2009 Saratoga Race Course Meet.

· Attendance for the first 12 days of the 2009 meet was 280,843, up from 267,895 in 2008, for a daily average of 23,403 compared to 22,325. (*See note on attendance below.)





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LONGTIME NYRA EMPLOYEE BILL JOHNSON DIES AT 76


Bill Johnson, a lifelong racetracker and longtime employee of The New York Racing Association, Inc., died August 7 of pancreatitis at age 76.

Johnson was widely known and liked throughout the racing industry. He worked as an assistant to track announcer Fred “Cappy” Capossela early in his career in the 1950s and later was director of radio and television for NYRA. He co-hosted the radio show “Breakfast at the Track” with the late Harry Downey on WGY in Schenectady, N.Y., and also worked on various handicapping television shows in the 1980s in the Albany area.





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Monday, August 10 2009


BUDDING TURF STARS VIE IN HALL OF FAME STAKES


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After trainer Alan Goldberg watched the results of last Saturday’s Grade 1 Secretariat for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park, he knew he’d made the right decision to skip the race in Chicago with Straight Story.

In the Virginia Derby on July 18, Straight Story finished in front of the eventual Secretariat winner, Take the Points, beaten a head by rising turf star Battle of Hastings. Now, Goldberg heads into Friday’s Grade 2, $150,000 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga Race Course with the morning-line favorite at 7-2 for the 1 1/8th mile race on the turf.





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SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Monday, August 10, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird had his first serious move for the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers at Saratoga Race Course this morning, zipping a half-mile over the main track in 48.22.

The move, with Jamie Theriot aboard, was the seventh-fastest of 27 at the distance and admittedly faster than trainer Chip Woolley had planned.





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QUEEN OF HEARTS PREVAILS IN SIGNATURE STALLIONS STAKES


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When Queen of Hearts broke her maiden going 1 1/8th miles at Belmont Park on July 22, trainer Jimmy Jerkens suspected from the way the filly galloped out that she wanted to go longer.

On Monday, the 4-year-old filly owned by Susan Moore and M and M Thoroughbred Partners got her chance in the 1½-mile Signature Stallions Series stakes, formerly the Waya. Positioned well behind front-running Zaskar through most of the race, Queen of Hearts closed an eight-length gap and dueled with the pacesetter through the stretch to prevail by a nose at the wire in the $73,500 turf contest at Saratoga Race Course.





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WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK AT SARATOGA RACE COURSE


WHAT: Week # 3 at the Saratoga Race Course

WHEN: Wednesday, August 12 - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WHERE: Various locations in Saratoga Springs





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GAME FACE ON IN HONORABLE MISS


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – While Zabeel Racing International’s Game Face didn’t get to employ her usual stalking style, she had no trouble galloping home to a 1½-length victory in Sunday’s 18th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of six, the 4-year-old daughter of Menifee broke sharply under jockey Edgar Prado and pressed pacesetting Keep the Peace through early fractions of 22.76 and 45.74, surging to the lead in the stretch to cross the wire in 1:10.70 for the six furlongs.





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FABULOUS STRIKE ROLLS TO VANDERBILT VICTORY


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Finally collaring a stubborn and fast Go Go Shoot at the sixteenth pole, Walter Downey’s Fabulous Strike showed Sunday why he is widely considered the finest six-furlong sprinter in the country, winning the 25th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

Ridden by Ramon Dominguez for trainer Todd Beattie, Fabulous Strike broke from the gate on top and then set up outside longshot Go Go Shoot for a protracted stalking drive before finally reaching and surging past the leader to win by a length. Go Go Shoot finished second, 1¼ lengths in front of Kodiak Kowboy.





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Sunday, August 09 2009


CHAD BROWN AND CORNELIO VELASQUEZ SET PACE IN JOCKEY TRAINER CONTEST


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After day 1 of the first Fasig-Tipton Jockey Trainer Contest, trainer Chad Brown and jockey Cornelio Velasquez hold narrow leads over their competition, setting up what should be a great final day of the contest. The day 1 standings are located online at http://www.nyra.com/saratoga/stories/FT-Standings-Day1.pdf.

Brown, a Mechanicville, N.Y. native, scored 18 points on day 1, with a system where points are compiled based on a 5-3-1 system for win, place, and show, with double points for horses that passed through the Fasig-Tipton sales ring. Kiaran McLaughlin is right behind Brown with 14 points, while Edward Lotruglio is in third place with 6 points.





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SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Sunday, August 9, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – As expected, Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito announced this morning that Tracy Farmer’s two-time Grade 1 Whitney Handicap winner Commentator has been retired after finishing third in Saturday’s $750,000 Whitney.

“He’s officially retired. We’ll let him go out on a high note,” Zito said. “It would have been wonderful for him to win. Physically, there’s nothing wrong with him other than his age. Considering what he has to do to run back in those Grade 1 races, we thought this was the best thing to do.”





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UNSUNG BULLSBAY DELIVERS A SHOCKER IN WHITNEY


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – All week long, the topic of conversation for the $750,000 Whitney Handicap conversation was the great gelding Commentator and his quest to become only the third horse to win the Grade 1 fixture in its 82-year history.

Even in a field of seven – reduced to six by the scratch of Asiatic Boy – few bothered to mention longshot Bullsbay. Yet midway through the far turn Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, there was jockey Jeremy Rose surging to the front aboard the 5-year-old bay, and with Macho Again mounting a stretch drive too late, Bullsbay ran to a stunning victory before a crowd of 39,568.





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