Thursday, August 06 2009


INCENTIVE PROGRAM BOOSTS FIELD SIZE, HANDLE, AND PURSE VALUES AT SARATOGA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The purse incentive program created to increase field size enriched 24 of the 60 races run (40 percent) during Week One of the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet, and helped contribute to a 9.2 percent increase in betting interests and a five percent gain in on-track handle, according to The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA). Purse increases from incentives totaled $173,770, a 16.4 percent advance over the original purse values.

Announced by NYRA last month, the program employs several methods to increase purses based on the number of horses starting in a race. Dirt races with more than eight betting interests leaving the paddock receive 10 or 15 percent purse hikes, based on the conditions of the race. Races taken off the turf with eight or more betting interests leaving the paddock are boosted 20 percent. And, “per horse” increases are provided for dirt races at nine furlongs and longer (for each betting interest above six), and turf races longer than nine furlongs (for each betting interest above eight), with incremental values based on the class of the race.





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Wednesday, August 05 2009


SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Tuesday, August 4. 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird arrived at Saratoga Race Course Tuesday morning to begin preparations for his next engagement, the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes on Saturday, Aug. 29.

Accompanied by three other horses from the stable of trainer Tim Ice, the chestnut son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone left New Jersey at 5:30 a.m., arriving shortly after 10 a.m.. After a short grazing session, he was settled into his stall in the stakes barn, just two doors down from Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who is also Shadwell Travers-bound.





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Tuesday, August 04 2009


QUALITY ROAD SMASHES TRACK RECORD IN AMSTERDAM RETURN


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – What began as a prep race for the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers evolved into a tour de force sprint as Edward Evans’ Quality Road returned from a four-month layoff Monday and smashed the 6½-furlong track record at Saratoga Race Course in winning the Grade 2 Amsterdam.

Ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Todd Pletcher, the bay 3-year-old son of Elusive Quality crossed the finish line 2¼ lengths in front of runner-up Capt. Candyman Can, stopping the clock in a blazing 1:13.53.





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MINE THAT BIRD ARRIVES AT SPA; SHADWELL TRAVERS NEXT


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After a seven-hour ride from West Virginia, Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird arrived at Saratoga Race Course Monday afternoon to begin preparations for his next start, the 140th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers on Saturday, August 29.

With trainer Chip Woolley at the wheel, the trailer carrying the little gelding pulled into the barn area shortly after 3 p.m. After being unloaded to the clicking of dozens of camera shutters, Mine That Bird took several turns around the shedrow and then settled into a grazing session on the lawn outside his stall.





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SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Monday, August 3, 2009


Grade 2 Suburban Handicap winner Dry Martini came out of Sunday’s bullet work for the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney in good order, said assistant trainer Robin Smullen. In company with 3-year-old Just Ben, the 6-year-old gelding drilled five furlongs in 58.91, the fastest of 77 at the distance.

“It was perfect,” said Smullen. “We wanted a good work for Just Ben, and I told (Dry Martini’s exercise rider) to go in :59.”





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TRIUMPHANT RACHEL ALEXANDRA RETURNS TO SARATOGA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Steve Asmussen stood with his family outside his barn at Saratoga Race Course on Monday morning and watched prized filly Rachel Alexandra walk off a van and into the first stall at 8:53 a.m.

One of Asmussen’s three sons, Darren, put a kid’s ball cap on his father’s head, and it perched atop his hair to comic effect.





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ENCOURAGING START FOR SPA MEET: ATTENDANCE JUMPS 13.5 PERCENT; ON-TRACK HANDLE UP FIVE PERCENT


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Attendance is up 13.5 percent, on-track handle up 5.0 percent, and all-sources handle fractionally up 1.1 percent from 2008 totals through Week One of the 2009 Saratoga Race Course Meet.

· Attendance for the first six days of the 2009 meet was 142,519 up from 125,617 for a daily average of 23,753 compared to 20,936 in 2008. (*See NOTE on attendance below.)





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Sunday, August 02 2009


SEVENTH STREET SPLASHES TO VICTORY IN THE GO FOR WAND


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Godolphin Stable’s Seventh Street set up in a perfect stalking position off longshot Color Me Up and then ran down Spritely in the stretch during a summer downpour to win the 56th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Go For Wand Handicap on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.

Except for a sharp drift wide in the first turn, Seventh Street did little wrong in the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares named for the ill-fated star that won the Test and Alabama in 1990.





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JUSTENUFF HUMOR MAKES IT FIVE IN FOURSTARDAVE


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Darley Stable’s Justenuffhumor proved again Sunday that his “knucklehead” ways are no impediment to victory when he surged late and drew off to win the 25th running of the Grade 2, $150,000-added Fourstardave Handicap by 2½ lengths.

After rearing in the gate, Justenuffhumor, ridden by Alan Garcia, sat well off early fractions of 23.91 and 47.63 set by favored Cowboy Cal, then powered through in the stretch to hit the wire in 1:42.83 over turf listed as good. The 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor has now racked up five straight victories, with the Fourstardave his first in a stakes race.





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SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Sunday, August 2, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Stonestreet Stables and Gulf Coast Farms’ Kensei, who powered home to a 2¼-length victory over Warrior’s Reward in the Saturday’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy came out of the race in good shape, according to trainer Steven Asmussen’s assistant Larry Ulrich.

In his first start around two turns, Kensei stalked Warrior’s Reward through six furlongs in 1:11.55 and then surged away from the field in the stretch.





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MINE THAT BIRD TO ARRIVE AT SARATOGA MONDAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is scheduled to arrive at Saratoga Race Course late Monday morning to begin preparations for the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers on Saturday, August 29.

The 3-year-old Birdstone gelding ran third by 1-3/4 lengths as the second betting choice in yesterday’s Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby contested over 1-1/8 miles at Mountaineer Racetrack.





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KENSEI TAKES JIM DANDY TO CAP GREAT DAY FOR ASMUSSEN


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In the span of a few minutes on Saturday afternoon, trainer Steve Asmussen beat the Kentucky Derby winner in one state and unleashed a budding superstar in another.

Moments after Soul Warrior upended Big Drama and Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby, Asmussen saddled Stonestreet Stable and Gulf Coast Farms’ up-and-coming Kensei to a sparkling 2¼-length victory over Warrior’s Reward and Charitable Man to win the 46th edition of the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.





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