On Saturday night, we recognized forty years of service for Skip Carlson at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The man who has worn many hats at the track throughout the decades had a race in his honor. The Open Pace was the “Carlson Classic” and went for a purse of $20,000. A field of just six participated as defending Pacer of the Year Artful Way was scratched out of the event.
The race’s 4-5 betting favorite Betterlatethnnever (Western Terror) moved out to the early lead but set sizzling fractions in order to make it to the top. After a first quarter in 26.3 and a half in 55 seconds flat, the Heidi Rohr trainee braced for even money shot Long Live Rock (Wally Hennessey) who just last week won the feature in 1:50.4.
Those two squared off in the stretch in a terrific battle with Betterlatethnnever holding off his foe by the slimmest of margins in a mile clocked in 1:50.1. That win time matched the previous mark set by Artful Way as the fastest of the year at Saratoga. It also served as a new lifetime mark for the eight year old pacer who is in the midst of his career year, winning five straight and ten on the season thus far.
Betterlatethnnever was driven to victory by Frank Coppola Jr. Long Live Rock came up second best while Race Me Rocky (Phil Fluet) earned the show spot.
Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:15pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino