No pun intended, but we’ve lost track of how many stakes, surface, and course records were set this season at the Spa.
We’re setting the Over/Under at seven. If that’s incorrect we’re certain someone will be more than happy to correct the error.
After 39 days of racing, with only the Labor Day card needing completion, NYRA has broken the all-sources handle record set two years ago.
Total handle for Saratoga following Sunday’s card reached $679.7 million. By Monday night that figure should be over $700 million. Not bad for 40 days work.
Subtle changes to the betting menu, including the introduction of a 20-Cent Jackpot Carryover that has proven popular wherever it has been installed, helped.
The Empire 6 experiment was deemed so successful that the Association applied to the NYS Gaming Commission for approval at the upcoming Belmont Fall meet–a formality.
When you consider the weather cancellations and wet tracks early at the meeting, the numbers show “Saratoga” continues to be one of the strongest brands in Thoroughbred racing.
The Graveyard of Favorites was stood on its head this session with the win percentage of favorites through Sunday standing at just under 40%. Considering the competition, that’s confounding.
But it makes sense with respect to the handle figures. Favorites mean churn, and churn is the game’s best friend. That’s why the constant promotion of horizontals is so wrong-headed.
Every horseplayer dreams of making a score, but if he wants to remain liquid, the simpler the wager the better. As for the Pick Everything Pools–the 20-Cent wager notwithstanding–it takes money to make money.
Whatever the approach, good racing is good business. The cream rises, especially at Saratoga, but some trainer win percentages strain credulity, fueling the notion that not all barns play on the same field.
And, so, as it turns out, all the king’s horses and all the king’s couldn’t stop Chad Brown’s horses again.
No barn has the fire power that Brown enjoys; owners notice when one barn’s horses always seem to out-finish all others by rote and are rarely caught from behind. It strains credulity.
Love or hate the concept of federal intervention, an outside, independent agency is the only hope racing to level the field.
Brown notwithstanding, this was Shug McGaughey’s meet, doing the kind of excellent work that put him in the Hall of Fame years ago.
McGaughey’s patient development of Code of Honor was classic old school. And the recent maiden breaker Mrs. Danvers could be, as the racetrackers say, any kind.
And the Pletcher two-year-olds are still breaking maidens on debut; Bill Mott continues to be a huge factor at Saratoga, and Christophe Clement always seems to win in bunches there.
As for riders, we have never seen a phenomenon equal to the success the brothers Ortiz are enjoying.
For jockeys, only winners beget more winners. Jose the younger and Irad Jr. the older win more than share and are in great demand. Together they have more wins than Castellano, Rosario and Saez combined.
Castellano and Rosario have enjoyed outstanding meets and, at 46, Johnny Velazquez continues to out-think and out-position his rivals. Saez, Junior Alvarado and Jose Lezcano have all enjoyed big moments.
Jeremiah Englehart and owner Bill Parcells were a couple of happy post-race celebrants. The Champagne likely is next up.
For the short time we were in town, morale was good and the energy always positive. Having two dark days was well received although some merchants did have issues with scheduling.
Consequently there were discussions about switching dark days to Tuesday and Wednesday. With Sundays and Mondays being difficult travel days, a new Thursday through Monday schedule makes four or five-day weekends do-able.
The only negative associated with the 2019 meet was the passing of Marylou Whitney who, back in the day, dedicated herself to revive the glory days of Saratoga racing. And did she ever.
Beyond that, Marylou’s charitable work is legendary. Her racetrack legacy will always be her dedication, and that of husband John Hendrickson, to improving the quality of life of backstretch workers.
It was the finest of many fine hours she dedicated to helping others, whatever community she happened to be in at the time.