Pricci's Saratoga Diary
For the next 40 days of New York racing, Executive Editor John Pricci will provide his insights on all things Saratoga for the 35th consecutive year in his original "Saratoga Diary." It debuted in 1977, the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown and Jatski was placed first in the Travers Stakes following the disqualification of Run Dusty Run. So keep up with the cold exactas, hot issues, and build your own stable of live horses, all from John's unique perspective, exclusively at

Friday, July 18, 2014

Saratoga 146 Opener in the Books

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 18, 2014—Nothing like getting punched in the stomach on opening day at Saratoga.

The New York Daily News, taking a page from their competition, the New York Post, called Jerry Bossert into the office on Saratoga 146 eve and fired him, leaving New York City without horse racing coverage.

Newsday is now the only paper in the city metro area to cover the sport.

Last year, before the Belmont Stakes, the New York Post fired trackside reporter Ed Fountaine and handicapper John DaSilva.

Bossert, a handicapping specialist who covered racing at the News for nearly two decades, is expected to free-lance for the paper later on at the meet.

What does this mean for Thoroughbred racing in New York? The same think it means for the NBA and NHL those seasons when the Knicks and Rangers stink.

Well, this stinks! Bossert is to be married this October…

Another Opening, Another Show

The two big games at Saratoga each summer are, of course, juveniles and turf racing. Well, opening day features all-turf late Pick 4 and the second and third races were for 2-year-old fillies including the traditional opening day Schuylerville.

The heavy favorite, Fashion Alert, won as expected, stretching her record to 2-for-2, both stakes, but she certainly didn’t win like a 1-to-5 favorite.

After leaning in at the start and bumping another rival soundly, the very fast Take Charge Brandi was able to scoot away to a clear lead. Johnny Velazquez asked the favorite to join the leader and the two fillies duked it from the seven-sixteenths pole to the wire.

The favorite fought Johnny through the stretch, tilted her head outside while encouraging her with the left hand. She won by a length and a half in 1:11.79, all out at the finish.

It was an excellent effort by the Lukas-trained runnerup who tried to come back leaving the eighth pole by the favorite’s momentum carried the day. Figure that ‘Brandi’ has a stakes with her name on it in the near future; follow.

It was 7-3/4 lengths back to Tulira’s Star, a private purchase by the Team Valor people following her open lengths score at Arlington Park in June.

The race before was a special-weights event at 5-1/2 furlongs and the first two finishers did the best running--by far. By the Moon came down the center of the track to draw off late in a very professional effort, giving Jose Ortiz a sweep of the early double, but it was runner-up Ring Knocker that was more impressive.

Asked to move prematurely approaching headstretch by Jose Lezcano, she swooped the group but began to tire from those exertions leaving the sixteenth pole. It was a sustained bid and the filly dug in right to the finish; will not be a maiden long; note. She’ll be a lot shorter than 24-1 next time out.

It was an eventful trip for Saratoga first-timer, legendary European rider Frankie Dettori, especially vexing since the airlines lost all of his tack, including his stirrups.

The incident cost him the ride on the well meant, debuting Vinolicious in the second race after missing the first aboard Successful Brothers. His next scheduled mount is in the 7th aboard Tiz Sardonic Joe.

Dettori took the mount who finished a very game second to gifted-leader Joe’s Blazing Aaron without the benefit of a front shoe thrown during the post parade.

NYRA should be commended for making the announcement that, because of this incident, the horse would race for “purse money only,” fair to the connections and the bettors.

Shoe or no shoe, no one was catching the odds-on leader after very soft early fractions. Third finisher Monument Hill, completed the exacta in a useful effort and third and fourth finishers, Where’s Danny and Emkanaat, outran their odds to complete the Tri and Super. Both are worth following in the proper spot next out; take note.

Next up, a 5-1/2 furlong turf sprint and…Frankie wins! Known for his patience and strong finish, he won this one on the engine for Aventure Love, a two-moves-on-the- lead winner, looking very much like a repeater. Ballerina Belle closed strongly for third; should be all set next out.

Dettori returned playing to the crowd, and they played to Dettori, demanding that he show them his signature flying dismount. He did, and the crowd loved it.

Next up was the entertaining Sir Cat for 3-year-olds going a mile on turf and a star might have been born or, at the very least, the next time Tourist makes an appearance it will be in a graded event. Mark it down.

Joel Rosario took no prisoners. He brought the race directly to graded-stakes dropping Storming Inti, took command, set solid fractions and had plenty left for the drive. And Mott got him there in typical Mott fashion; with patience, through conditions.

First, the maiden breaker at Gulfstream this winter, put him away until June when he came back to win a preliminary allowances in 1:33 1/5, then returned today in an overnighter and missed the course record by 14/100s.

Dettori doubled up in the finale (Johnny had two, Jose Ortiz tripled).with an aggressive, yet, come-again winner aboard New York bred Jet Majesty, also for Spa weekend sponsor, Wesley Ward.

The main track played honestly for the most part, but was a little cuppy, nothing that a little more H2O wouldn't cure.

Written by John Pricci

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