Sardella’s Column

Spreester Picking Up Right Where She Left Off

          

A few weeks ago in this column, we talked about the beginning of the New York Sire Stakes season at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Three year old trotter Cash Me Out got the local horses off to a good start to the stakes year with an impressive victory as the big favorite for Mickey McGivern. That super sophomore went on to break the track record at Buffalo Raceway the following week and has continued on a path to being one of if not the top three year old trotter in New York. On Saturday night, three year old pacing fillies had their turn to shine at the Spa as the sophomores slugged it out in three divisions of the Sire Stakes that went for purses of between $59,100 and $60,200. 
             As a two year old last year, locally-based filly Spreester had a terrific freshman season. Spreester is the daughter of former Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year at the Spa Rodeo Spree. Rodeo Spree raced under the guidance of trainers John Mongeon and Paul Zabielski in her years at the Spa, having her career-best season in 2004. That year, the mare made 42 starts, almost all of which came in the local Fillies and Mares Open. Rodeo Spree’s earnings of $58,601 are made even more impressive because at that time, the Open was contested for purses of between $6,500 and $7,000. The mare continued to race for a few years after her award winning ’04 campaign and finished up her career with a bankroll of $219,900. 
               After being trained by veteran conditioner Paul Zabielski for quite some time, Rodeo Spree became a brood mare for Zabielski and his wife Kim. The filly Spreester is the daughter of Rodeo Spree and sire American Ideal. Early last year as a freshman, Spreester showed signs that she would be a competitive filly but even after winning her second lifetime start at Saratoga against maiden competition, there was really no way of knowing what would be in store for the filly and what was to come once she started her Sire Stakes career. 
             Spreester spent the majority of her freshman campaign competing in the Excelsior Series. This level of the NY Sire Stakes is a bit lower than the “big time” competition against the top lady pacers but still consists of strong young horses. The Zabielski trainee seemed to love the bigger stage and her progression was easy to see. The then-two year old started to become a force in the Excelsior Series and rattled off six wins and a second place finish in it before taking part in the Final. Spreester continued her winning ways in the Excelsior Final and wrapped up her freshman season with earnings of $66,925 behind eight victories in ten starts. The filly never finished out of the top three in 2013 and for her efforts won the award for Two Year Old Pacer of the Year at Saratoga. 
             It always seems to be a bit of a guessing game whether or not a strong two year old will come back as well at the age of three. It’s one thing to be ahead of your competition from a maturity or skill-set standpoint, but it is an even taller order to improve enough from the two to three year old season to continue dominance. After a year in which she dominated the Excelsior Series, Spreester started out her sophomore campaign a bit slowly and could muster up just a couple of fourth place finishes within her first four tries in ‘14. When it came time for her first Excelsior Series race of the year, though, it’s like the switch was flipped on and she turned into a machine once again.
             Spreester prevailed in her first try in the Excelsior Series this season when she scored a convincing victory at Vernon Downs. The following week, the Zabielskis decided to give her a crack at the ‘big time’ Sire Stakes for the first time. The sophomore filly was up to the task and scored a stakes win in the $29,850 race at Monticello. Following back to back second place finishes against the state’s top fillies, it was back to the winner’s circle for the super sophomore as she scored a stakes win at Goshen. Spreester came back to Saratoga to compete in a “regular” overnight race on July 13th, a race in which she scored yet another convincing victory. Spreester brought a stakes record of ten wins and three seconds in thirteen career starts into Saturday night’s try at the Spa. 
             Sire Stakes king Jim Morrill Jr piloted Spreester in Saturday’s $59,100 competition. The filly was the public’s 2-5 favorite as she looked to continue her dominant ways amongst the top NY-bred three year old fillies. Morrill sat patiently with the favorite as her rivals posted sizzling fractions in the first half. After an opening quarter in 26.4 and a half in 57 seconds, Spreester made her move and wound up outpacing her rivals home to record a seasonal best victory in 1:53.2. Spreester’s win time was just a fifth of a second behind Major Dancer for the fastest of the night among sophomore fillies. The streak that Spreester is riding in stakes races has seen her finish first or second in each and every Sire Stakes race to date and has her poised to be one of the top fillies throughout the summer season. We will watch as the locally-based three year old continues to dazzle in the New York Sire Stakes for the second consecutive year and continues her quest towards a stakes title on the Night of Champions on Saturday September 13th.  
             Live racing takes place every Tuesday through Saturday at Saratoga with first post times each night of 7:05pm. This will remain the schedule until the middle of September. The New York Sire Stakes are back in town on Wednesday night as three year old trotting fillies will battle it out for the largest purses of the season to date as two divisions of the $91,550 stakes highlight this week’s racing at the Spa. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!       




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