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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

SPA RECAP HEADING INTO THE THIRD FULL WEEK OF RACING

The “Graveyard” might have buried some heavy prominent favorites over the weekend but the public’s choices remain around the traditional national average, going 41-for-131 at the meet, a win percentage of just over 31%.

If that’s the Over/Under for how things will go until meet’s end on Labor Day, I’ll be taking the Over–but that’s just me.  

Jose Ortiz and Luis Saez continue to put on a good show day after day but Javier Castellano has quietly inched up on both and has joined the fray after 14 days or racing. Ortiz remains at the top with 18 winners, three more than Saez. Meanwhile, Castellano had a strong week himself and is third, four wins off Ortiz’s pace.

Javier is getting many of his winning rides from leading trainer Chad Brown while Ortiz and Saez are doing it across the training spectrum. Tied for fourth is Jose Lezcano and Irad Ortiz Jr. at 11 wins each.  

In the trainer’s ranks, Brown has the most bullets to fire–talented ones at that–and is odds-on to win another New York training title. His 12 winners are five more than runner-up Bill Mott, who has a two-win lead over Linda Rice.  
Seven trainers are tied for fourth with four winners, among them Todd Pletcher, who thus far is having an unlike Todd Saratoga. We’re sure Channel Cat has taken some of the sting out of that with Saturday’s Sword Dancer Stakes score.

Pletcher hasn’t run as many two-year-olds as in the past, which either is a sign of recent times or a change in his approach, not leaning on his babies as he has done traditionally. We havea hunch he’s going to have a big Whitney day this Saturday.

Percentage-wise, meanwhile, Brown’s numbers have slipped some, but for good reason: He is often beating himself with multiple entrants in racesat every level. The good news for Brown is that much of the beaten stock are finishing second and/or third as the equine rich continue their upward mobiity.  

Everyone has to do better if they expect to keep up with Saratoga inflation. Higher prices have been a common theme among the people we have spoken with. The high cost of everything seems to be affecting tourism some.

We’ll see for ourselves soon enough, and report back to those of you who are pondering a visit to upstate New York.                  
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