The weather may have been significantly cooler on Saturday night but the fractions in the feature were sizzling at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The $14,500 Open Pace had just six participants but the race wound up as eye-popping and competitive as any we’ve seen thus far this season. Former Horse of the Year Panocchio was back in town after spending his winter at Pompano in Florida and he was determined to cut the mile in his return to the Spa. Rival Deetzy had other thoughts. Those two speedy pacers slugged it out in a nearly unheard of first lap of 53.4 before Deetzy took over approaching the half. The closers in the race, which included the favored Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Sportswriter), loved the early battle and reaped the rewards of it. The Rene Allard-trained Maxdaddy Blue Chip, who finished second in last week’s Open, came charging hard late in the mile and paced past his rivals to win in 1:51.2, the fastest time for any horse thus far in the ’18 season at Saratoga. Perennial Open threat JK Panache (Jimmy Devaux) also came from off the pace and wound up as the feature’s runner-up while Sassy Hanover (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. Maxdaddy Blue Chip, who had a fifteen-win 2017 campaign, was piloted to his first ’18 score by leading driver Billy Dobson.
Allard trainees have won the local Open Trot in back-to-back weeks and will look to extend that streak to three on Sunday when Consolidator takes part in the matinee’s feature. First post time is set for 12:15pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino