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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saratoga Diary, Day 2: Opening Day, Finally!

July 20, 2012--Following national anthem, a moment of silence was observed to note the passing of Hall of Fame trainer Frank Martin at 86 on Wednesday; nice touch… Sad to learn Al Hunt, longtime security guard at the foot of the Saratoga press box steps, passed this past winter. An absolute gentleman

Finally, after all the Internet and typical opening day issues were resolved; great racing—does anybody remember great racing?—returned to New York. So far, it’s been nothing less than a joy to behold.

First Race--The lidlifter went to Rosie Napravnik, who we predict—everyone stay healthy, please—will eclipse Ms. Krone. Now we know that’s going out on a limb diary but, hey, it’s about having an opinion, right?

Anyway, she rode 14-1 Nine O Wonderful beautifully, rated behind under a long pull, tipped wide and finished strongly, never getting crazy with a whip. Good job; leading rider at the meet.

ThirdLignite played catch me if you can and they couldn’t, breaking her maiden by a diminishing length over Todd Pletcher-trained FTS Kimono; latter will not be a maiden for long. Toasting finishing well too late along the inside at 21-1; stable mail, please. Winner gave Joel Rosario his first of the meet for Wesley Ward trainee who faced colts in last; her own kind here.

FourthChad Brown favorite won under heavy drive at odds on; runnerup Ullapool making the better impression. Late tote action made Eddie Kenneally filly 2-1. She broke through the gate; reloaded, broke on top again, legitimately this time, and held very, very gamely. Thinking that jockey Jose Lezcano might have stayed in the middle after breaking from slip #8 going 7 furlongs. She’ll make amends very soon.

Fifth—Toddster unleashes Kauai Katie. Debuting filly broke like a rocket, opening a clear lead, and improved her position throughout; runnerup Kansas was all out to save the place.

Sixth—First tough beat of the meet, diary, as we were looking to cash exactas/trifectas, keying off both Versailles Road and Best Actor. They were second and third best to Roy Lerman-trained Presumptive (35-1). Lerman usually has a surprise in store for this stand; well that didn’t take long.

Seventh—Good finish with Ramon Dominguez inside, Junior Alvarado outside, battling down the stretch, Ramon and Cosmic Energy prevailing over Lily the Pink.

Eighth—The first of 35 graded stakes, the G3 James Marvin at 7 furlongs on the main track, and the “Graveyard Of Favorites”, which is really a myth diary, but we like writing it anyway, claimed its first victim.

And make no mistake, the normally highly reliable and hard hitting Jackson Bend was terrible from the start, showing no real interest at any point. What a difference a year makes.

Joel Rosario made the start look bad for all but his mount, Pacific Ocean, who opened three lengths before the competition could catch its breath.

He slowed the pace down to a dawdling-this-class :46.67, and when the ralliers began to close in, he pulled the rug approaching the furlong pole and was gone in 1:22.53 for the whole distance. Actually, second favorite Caixa Electronica was even more disappointing.

The winner was trained by…wait for it, Rick Dutrow. And what’s next? “He’s not the easiest horse in the world to handle,” Dutrow said. “The race at the end of the meet here makes sense.”

That race is the G1 Forego. Last year, it was today’s beaten favorite that was able to complete the Marvin-Forego sweep.

Ninth—Now it was the Delaware Valley's turn; Anthony Dutrow, shipping north from Parx with So Many Ways, took the G3 Schuylerville beneath Javier Castellano, who allowed his rivals to fire rat-tat-tat early before coaxing the last, and winning move, from his filly. Dutrow won the finale, too, with To Dubai, Ramon up. Fourth finisher Fully Living was going very well at the finish, too; follow closely.

And speaking of the Delaware Valley, the rest of the news was not good; Union Rags has run his last. At this writing, no determination has been made regarding his next career at stud. Star-crossed Belmont Stakes never really had a chance to demonstrate what might have been. Tough game, this.

Written by John Pricci

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