There were four divisions of the third and final leg of the Step Up To The Plate Claiming Series contested on Saturday evening at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Much like in the previous legs, the favorites did not thrive in the early going on Saturday as horses had their final chance to accrue earnings towards next weekend’s $30,000+ Final. Control Tower (Panspacificflight) became the first repeat winner in the series when he went wire-to-wire with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. The eleven year old utilized early speed to overcome the outside post in his seven-horse division of the series and wound up a wire-to-wire winner for owner/trainer Jared Bako paying $8.50 to win in the mild upset. Control Tower’s final time of 1:55.4 proved to be the fastest of the leg three winners.
Trainer Lisa Zabielski claimed Its Just Too Much (American Ideal) out of leg one and after the veteran pacer made a break last week, the ten year old rewarded his new connections with a victory in leg three when he emerged from a scramble in the stretch to score in 1:57.4 over a track labeled ‘sloppy.’ Chris Long piloted the upset winner who was dismissed at odds of 6-1.
The favorites finally began to prevail late in the evening when Rogue Cheddar (Betterthancheddar) scored as the odds-on public choice. A runner-up in each of the first two legs, Rogue Cheddar sat the pocket on Saturday and wasn’t able to shake loose until late in the mile. When he did, the Zack Gray-trained pacer surged up the passing lane to score in 1:57.4. The final $17,500 division of leg three went the way of Nerve Of Steel N and reinsman Phil Fluet. Like Rogue Cheddar, Nerve Of Steel N a runner-up in the first two legs of the series but got the job done on Saturday to punch his ticket to next weekend’s Final. His trainer Bob Davis co-owns the New Zealand import with Mike Mancini. Nerve Of Steel N paid $5.60 as the 9-5 favorite in leg three.
Live racing continues on Sunday at Saratoga with a matinee that kicks off at noon.
Photo: Jessica Hallett
Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York