The $20,000 Open Pace was comprised of just five horses on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel following a pair of scratches. Amanda Kelley’s Mar Nien A (Rock N Roll Heaven) had been first or second in all of his local starts since coming to town in September and on Saturday night was the public’s 3-5 betting favorite in the feature. Jay Randall, who has become the regular reinsman for Mar Nien A, wasted no time moving the favorite out to the lead in the Open and once he got there, Mar Nien A never faced an anxious moment. The Australian invader cruised to a 1:52.3 victory on Saturday, his second score in the Open since coming to town and his fourth win in six starts since the move to the Kelley stable. JK Panache (Shawn Gray) continues to be a force in the feature and was the runner-up to the big favorite on Saturday while longshot Itsonlyrocknroll A (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. The exacta paid $9.00 and with the field condensed to just five participants, there was no triple wagering. Though Mar Nien A is too late of an addition to the Spa to be considered for any of the end of the season awards, the six year old certainly looks like he will be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday nights for quite some time.
Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a first post time of 12:15pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino