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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 HorseRaceInsider.com.
 

Friday, July 22, 2011


Spa 143 Opener in the Books


SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 22, 2011--As a 143rd birthday bash, the Saratoga lidlifter was routinely sensational.

The NYRA dodged a bullet with the weather--very hot but not unbearably so due to a slight breeze which at least moved the air around some.

The turf courses were lush, firm and had plenty of spring to it. Speed went well over it--unusual at the beginning of any meet--but, of course, it usually pays to run late and today is no exception.

In the opener, it appeared that perfect trip sitter Fizzano was going to get it done with a well timed mid-race move from Dominguez. But it was the late running Boat beneath Javier Castellano that made the last run successfully.

The Tom Bush trainee disappointed in his Belmont finale but put it all together at the Spa.

Shades of Funny Cide in the second, also on grass, was Sackatoga Stable’s Stephen’s Revenge moved alongside debuting Poliziotto and wore him down in the late going, Eddie Castro denying Castellano an early double sweep.

The runnerup, a Chad Brown trainee, will not remain a maiden for long; follow.

Rudy Rodriguez-trained Wise Stop won the first dirt race of the meet beneath a hustling Cornelio Velasquez, who’s scheduled to fly to Chicago tomorrow to ride Winchester in the Stars and Stripes at Arlington.

It appeared tough coming from off the pace but not making decisions based on one race. Cure finished gamely in the middle of the track for the place. Stand Proud finished well too late, fourth for Team Brown-Castellano, rallying from last. Bet back in proper spot.

As a Swimmer, Migliore a Poor Handicapper

Nobody stays young forever. Ask Derek Jeter. Ask Richard Migliore, a returned winner of over 4,000 races now a broadcaster for HRTV and the NYRA Racing Network.

On Thursday, Migliore drove up to Lake George with a good buddy and his son Joseph, they went around to the backside of the lake, it all looked so inviting that they went for a swim.

A good destination they thought was this island out in the lake a bit. It looked do-able but judging distance over the water is hard. All made it over to the other side safely, the Mig indicating he was laying out over this rock just huffing and puffing like some big day wolf.

Now it was time to go back. “I think I could have made it, but didn’t want to find out I was wrong about halfway across.” Ya’ think, Rich?

A man came by in a speed boat, Migliore flagged him down, asked for a lift, got one, and waved to his son and buddy on the way back as he cruised on by. It’s unlikely Migliore will confuse a marathon for a sprint ever again.

A Go For Mo

Working an easy three-eighths of a mile in :38.40, then galloping out a half in :51.25, Team Repole-Pletcher were at once pleased and relieved to have Uncle Mo back at Saratoga, where he began his curious odyssey with a 14-½ length jaw dropping maiden romp en route to the 2010 juvenile championship.

But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to this year’s Kentucky Derby, a mysterious liver ailment that at this point seems to be behind the colt.

“He’s the horse he was when he was a two-year-old said owner Mike Repole. “He’s been here for over a week now and gained five more pounds with heavy training. His blood work keeps improving every single day. It’s nice to see him out there.”

Repole would like to see him out there at meet’s end in the G1 King’s Bishop on the Travers undercard. So would the NYRA and the colt’s fans.

What’s This Sports World Coming To?

A Boston Red Sox fan naming a filly Georgie’s Angel after George Steinbrenner? Well, that’s exactly what happened, and the world didn’t stop rotating.

In fact, there wasn’t even a ripple of negative karma as the filly remained undefeated in two starts, including yesterday’s Schuylerville, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth win in the traditional opening day feature.

The name was suggested by Pletcher’s press agent Kelly Wietsma based on the fact that the filly is by Bellamy Road, the late Steinbrenner’s favorite horse. The Angel half came from the fact that his wife’s father used to call her angel.

“We named her Georgie’s Angel as sort of a compromise,” said winning owner Ronnie Sheffer. The filly, which he owns in partnership with Ronald Stocks and Betsy Wells, is Sheffer’s first horse.

Whatever the name, it’s unlikely the filly, now pointing for the Spinaway on closing weekend, will be his last.

Nick Zito: On a Roll?

Actually, it’s been a tough year for the Hall of Famer but the signs that he’s beginning to heat up are there. He had two winners at the Belmont meet but they came recently and yesterday he added the James Marvin trophy to this latest streak.

The victory by Jackson Bend, a classics performer last year but a strong winner of the first stakes of the Spa season, which really was a graded event masquerading as an overnight stakes.

“He has so much guts it’s unbelievable,” Zito said. “He came back to us and trained brilliantly. We’ll either pick the Forego [for his next start] or something else. Bob [owner LaPenta] wants to run in the Breeders Cup [Dirt] Mile.”

Rain, Rain, Went Away

And so attendance rose to 25,155 despite temperatures that reached 98 in the Capital District yesterday, which was still preferable to last year’s storm.

Ten different trainers won Friday’s 10 races and Julien Leparoux was the only jockey to double as the wealth was divided equally. The turf courses appeared in great shape, lots of spring and unbiased while the main track was speedy but not dramatically so.

Three favorites won on the day and there will be nearly a $68,000 Pick Six carryover into Saturday.

Written by John Pricci

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