Crockets Cullen N (Christian Cullen) took advantage of sizzling fractions in the Saturday feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel to secure his first Open Pace victory of the season. Larry Stalbaum owns and drives the Tracy Tarantino-trained eight year old who is once again enjoying a strong season in 2019. Crockets Cullen N is no stranger to the Spa and in fact, he won the local Open on two different occasions last year. On Saturday night, regular Open winner Hudson Phil was once again the betting public’s odds-on favorite but that one’s early speed wound up taking its toll. An eight-time local Open winner in ’19, Hudson Phil powered out to the front end in a first quarter of an eye-popping 26.1 before reaching the half in 54.1. Crockets Cullen N was the first challenger for the favored leader and had little difficultly overpowering him approaching three quarters. Stalbaum went pedal to the metal around the final turn and though fellow closers Military Master A (Mark Beckwith) and Jersey Jim closed in a bit, it was Crockets Cullen N who reigned supreme in the $15,000 feature. The final time of 1:51.1 was just shy of the lifetime mark of 1:51 for Crockets Cullen N who gave Stalbaum one of his two winners on the night. The New Zealand invader paid $9.50 to win and led an exacta with Military Master A second that returned $119.50 while the triple, which was completed by Jersey Jim, came back $534. Stalbaum and Tarantino teamed up for three winners on the card as their Lord Willoughby A and Itsonlyrocknroll A secured front-running victories on Saturday night.
Live racing resumes at Saratoga on Wednesday afternoon with a matinee beginning at Noon that features a Pick Five carryover of $4,043. The Pick Five begins in race one.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino