SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 11, 2013—Folks that have been HRI regulars and Newsday readers before that know that I’m no jockey basher. But after today’s Adirondack Stakes, the following will be the exception to my personal rule.

Corey Lanerie was totally overmatched aboard odds on and formerly undefeated Fiftyshadesofgold in the storied Grade 2 at 6-1/2 furlongs. After the late scratch of Untapable, Bret Calhoun’s filly was relegated to a position closest to the rail in the field of six, an unlucky happenstance that contributed to the events.

Lanerie had the filly in a compromising position right from the start and despite at least two opportunities to alter the course of the big, scopey gray filly to the outside for clear running, he kept her down on the inside saving a little ground--as if the filly beneath him were 35-1 and not 35-Cents on the dollar.

You’d think that after the two fillies on her right flank veered in soon after the start and bumped her, he’d have eased his filly back, cover her up but keep her off the inside so that he could do the dictating and not be dictated to. But he stayed right where he was.

At headstretch, Lanier and Fiftyshadesofgold were still inside, had another opportunity to tip out for a clear run but didn’t. Instead, he elected to attempt getting through on the fence and got eliminated from winning contention when Who’s In Town beneath Joel Rosario bore in.

Was Fiftyshadesofgold interfered with? Absolutely. But the filly never should have been put in that situation in the first place. And that’s too bad for the filly, her trainer, and the Scharbauer family that owns her.

The owners were lucky once before when one of their runners nearly was knocked over in the stretch, but Alysheba and Chris McCarron recovered and went on to win the 1987 Kentucky Derby anyway. In this game, I guess no one’s entitled to that kind of good fortune more than once.


Total wagering on races at Saratoga Race Course increased from last year through the first 20 days of the 4-day meet according to New York Racing Association statistics. The increase reflects handle from all-sources and the half of one percent increase is testimony to the stretch of the Saratoga brand.

On-track handle, however, fell by nearly 3 percent year over year and attendance decreased by 2.2 percent. The association cited the extreme heat on opening day and poor weather for the track’s first giveaway day.

While this is true, the excuses are misleading. On balance, the weather thus far has been good, borne out by the fact that there have been 15 more turf races thus far than in 2012 and only eight races were lost compared to 21 last year.

The lack of support might reflect something else; that too much of a good thing is just too much, making a day at the Spa a little less special. Nine race programs are virtually a thing of the past.

And despite 13 more turf races this year--with their larger fields--still could not help the average field size to lower from 8.3 starters per race to 8.2. The math is simple: With the number of available running horses remaining virtually static, more races will deplete the possible number of starters.


Soon after Sweet Whiskey hit the finish line first in her debut, a colleague said: “the rich are getting richer.” Said another in reply: “That’s the way it works.” So what happened after that? Well, the rich got richer, and richer, and…

The debut winner, Sweet Whiskey, lived up to the hype, winning her debut in an extremely worthy 1:02.81. The chatter was that the Todd Pletcher trained filly had been outworking Our Amazing Rose, an uber impressive debut winner earlier at the meet.

“There were a couple of other fillies she’d been training with who had already started at the meet and ran well,” the trainer said post-race…She lived up to our expectations. I was impressed by the time; it was very fast.”

Also living up to expectations were We Miss Artie, Teen Pauline and Corfu, the game Saratoga Special winner who narrowly defeated the Sanford winning Wired Bryan on opening weekend.

That would give Pletcher four on the day, increasing his lead by 11 winners over Chad Brown, who has saddled a dozen winners in the first half of the Saratoga 150 meet.

Those four winners, plus She’s Stoned Sis, gave Johnny Velazquez five for the day, vaulting him to within five of meet leading Joel Rosario, who has a one-win lead on Javier Castellano.