There were three divisions of the first leg of the Virginia O’Brien Memorial Pacing Series that took place as co-features on Thursday’s matinee card at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Each division of the series for filly and mare pacers went for a purse of $10,000. Perhaps the favorite heading into the fifth annual O’Brien Memorial was Chase You (American Ideal). A winner of three of her four starts in 2019 heading into Thursday’s first leg, Chase You has been a dominant force on the engine thus far this season. Bet down as the 2-5 public choice on Thursday, Chase You made the lead once again with Brett Crawford in the sulky. While the favorite certainly didn’t prove dominant, she had enough to get the job done and record her fourth win in five seasonal tries, stopping the timer in 1:57.1. Though her effort couldn’t be deemed dazzling, Chase You did enough to perhaps still be considered the favorite in the series for lady pacers.
Qing Qong Bluechip (Brian Cross) set a lifetime mark in her division of the O’Brien Pace as the Henry Westbrook III trainee took advantage of a late break by her race’s favorite and took over the lead in the stretch, one that she would not relinquish. Her second win of the season came in a career-best 1:56.3, a win time that proved to be the fastest among the leg one winners. Delightful Trysta and her trainer-driver Phil Fluet scored in the final division of leg one of the series, coming on in the stretch to prevail in 1:58.3, a time that also served as a career-best for the three year old filly. Both Qing Qong Bluechip and Delightful Trysta paid $11.60 to win in their mild upsets. Next Thursday’s card will feature leg two of the O’Brien Memorial Pace with the $30,000+ Final scheduled for the following week.
Live racing resumes at Saratoga on Saturday night with a 6:45pm first post.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino