We are passed the halfway point of the 2019 Saratoga racing season and little has changed almost right from the jump.
The Chad Brown operation, Thoroughbred racing’s answer to the ’27 Yankees, is as dominating an operation as there ever has been in this game.
The heyday of Calumet, when it seemed like they were winning Kentucky Derbies every other year, were pikers compared to the chock-full shedrow populated by the best runners the 1% can buy or sell.
Brown, who swept all three Grade 1s on Saturday’s Arlington Million card, adding the Grade 3 Pucker Up for good measure, has taken the time to saddle 20 Spa winners.
Tied for the place are Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher with nine.
Other barns having very successful meets are Christophe Clement, Jeremiah Englehart, Bill Mott and Jason Servis are next in line with eight wins each.
Lots of jockeys have had their moments: Junior Alvarado, Javier Castellano, Jose Lezcano, Joel Rosario and Luis Saez, to name a few.
Even young Tyler Gaffalione, who doesn’t have big numbers, does have three stakes wins in his first full Spa season. Otherwise, it’s been All Ortiz All the Time: If it’s not Jose, then it’s Irad Jr.
Jose has ridden 35 winners, Irad Jr. 30 with Javier Castellano third at 22.
The public is having some luck picking winners, their choices winning at a very worthy 36.8%, with plenty of exotic filler for all the HRI Faithful.
Both numbers and empirical feedback have been good relative to the betting menu (though I do expect some argument on this). The 20-Cent Empire Six that debuted last week got off to a solid start.
A near $1,000 payoff won’t change anyone’s life but will buy enough quality three-course dinners, even at Spa prices.
That payout was good value on a sequence including winners paying $7.90, 3.20, 5.10, 12.00, 5.20 and 11.80. A total of $351,000 was wagered Saturday, and Wednesday’s hangover is $163,000 for those seeking a perfecto.
All-sources wagering for the 2019 meet is up 2%, year over year.