The tandem of trainer Jaymes McAssey and driver Shawn Gray scored a double on closing day at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Tuesday. The young conditioner and the veteran reinsman won the final feature of 2020 with Always Mindy (Always A Virgin) who made her local debut in the $10,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Always Mindy was a $10,000 claim for McAssey at Plainridge back in September and after enjoying some success in Massachusetts this fall, the six year old mare made her Spa debut on Tuesday. In a race filled with early speed, Always Mindy sat back patiently in a first lap that went in 55.2. The big favorite Racine Bell (Jimmy Devaux) was on the engine as she sought her third consecutive win in the local Open. The fractions took their toll on the public’s odds-on choice and Always Mindy surged past her in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:53.4. Racine Bell was second while Come Get The Cash (Jay Randall) finished third. Always Mindy paid $17.80 in the Open upset and led an exacta and triple that came back $33.20 and $131, respectively. Always Mindy is owned by Greg Gardiner of Sheridan, MI. McAssey and Gray completed their Tuesday double when claiming pacer Gottalovemyshadow (Shadow Play) made her return from Plainridge a winning one going coast-to-coast as the big favorite in her $4,250 race for distaffers. McAssey owns the six year old mare who had another solid year and won for the seventh time in 23 seasonal tries on Tuesday. Gray catch-drove pacer Nagle to victory to trainer Amanda Kelley later in the card to complete his hat trick on closing day.
Before the race card began, Billy Dobson and Gary Levine were awarded plaques in the winner’s circle in recognition of their achievements as leading driver and trainer, respectively, for the 2020 campaign. For Dobson, it was local driving title number eight while Levine took home the training title for the first time in his career. Racing is set to resume at Saratoga in early March of 2021. Until then, be well!
Photo: Cheyanne Mandy