Larry Stalbaum’s Crockets Cullen N (Christian Cullen) won his first local Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel in mid-October. Following a third place finish the week after, the seven year old New Zealand invader fell sick and wound up taking a month off to recover. Stalbaum qualified Crockets Cullen N at Monticello in anticipation of his return to the Saratoga Open on Saturday night. Crockets Cullen N was assigned post four for his try in the $20,000 feature and Stalbaum unleashed him early. After making an easy lead, Crockets Cullen N yielded to soon-to-be three-time Pacer of the Year Artful Way (Frank Coppola Jr) who wound up on the front end. Artful Way set honest but relatively comfortable fractions throughout and after checking in at three quarters in 1:24.4 braced for Crockets Cullen N who was keen to go. Stalbaum popped the pocket at the head of the stretch and the battle ensued. Crockets Cullen N got up in the nick of time to edge the track’s defending Horse of the Year to score in 1:52.2 for his second victory in the local Open. Artful Way came up second best while Lachie Maguire N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Pulling off a minor upset, Crockets Cullen N paid $9.30 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $48.80 and $207, respectively. The win was one of three on the card for Stalbaum who won the $16,050 Winners Over with Chumlee A and a conditional race with his O’Sundland who came from off the pace to prevail on Saturday night.
Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time set for 12:15pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino