Birch Island Betty (Big Jim) established herself as a factor in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel late last season. The Eve Bergeron trainee won the ladies’ feature twice in 2021 in a season that saw her hit the board in 21 of her 38 starts. Birch Island Betty made her ’22 debut in early March and has shown improvement every week. Heading into Monday afternoon’s try in the $15,000 Open for distaffers off a second-place finish, the seven year old appeared poised for her first score of the young season. Brett Beckwith took her back in the early going as a host of longshots slugged it out at the start. First half fractions of 27.1 and 56 seconds set the table for closers and Birch Island Betty made her move heading towards the three-quarter pole. The talented mare pulled off a three-wide move and drew away a bit from her rivals around the final turn. Robyn Camden (Billy Dobson), the winner of the last two installments of the local Open for fillies and mares, came from last on Monday and also made steady progress in the race’s final quarter. That classy mare came up short of threepeating as Birch Island Betty held strong in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:55 on a cold afternoon in the Spa City. Birch Island Betty paid $7.30 to win and led an exacta with Robyn Camden second that returned $21.60. Longshot Mc Kella (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot and rounded out a triple that came back $112.50. Birch Island Betty is owned by Dany Grenier, of Quebec, Canada.
Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a first post set for 5pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser