With the Open Trot not carded this week at Saratoga Casino Hotel, the Monday feature was a $10,700 event for trotters. After a couple of scratches in the featured race, razor sharp Lazzaro (Billy Dobson) wound up as the public’s 1-5 betting favorite. The Monica Krist trainee came into the race on a four-race win streak and has been getting better every week. Staying at pretty much the same level as last week’s win, Lazzaro appeared poised to extend his streak on Monday but rival Knight Angel (Archangel) had something to say about it. Knight Angel, who is trained by Andy Byler, came in off an upset win last week (April 19) in which he went last to first in a nine-horse race. Parked the entire mile, Knight Angel was still only fifth turning for home but found another gear in the stretch before coming on to score while dismissed at odds of 9-1.
This week, Knight Angel drew post four and went off at 4-1 while tasked with taking on the red-hot Lazzaro. Longshot leader JNR Express (John Stark Jr) was carving out the fractions on the lead and Knight Angel again moved early resulting in him being two-wide for the majority of the mile. He did tuck in behind JNR Express briefly as they trotted towards three-quarters but was back out for the drive and beat Lazzaro to the punch. Knight Angel cruised by JNR Express to take the lead but the favorite had open road and had every chance to go by in the lane. The chase was futile and Knight Angel stopped the timer in 1:57.2 to complete back-to-back jacks. Lazzaro’s win streak came to an end though he did finish a strong second while JNR Express held on for third. Knight Angel paid $10.60 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $23.40 and $69.50, respectively. Brian Cross drove Knight Angel to his pair of victories and is now two-for-two piloting the Byler-trained five year old this season.
Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga with a Noon first post.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino