Optical Illusion N (He’s Watching) came into Saturday night riding a modest win streak at Saratoga Casino Hotel. A winner of two in a row, the New Zealand invader in is the midst of his first season in the U.S. and has found a home in the Lisa Zabielski stable. The six year old had eight wins to his credit in 2022 when he made his debut in the Open Pace on Saturday night.
Assigned the rail following back-to-back jacks down in company, Optical Illusion N was aggressive from the get-go in the $16,000 feature as driver Chris Long would not relinquish the early lead. After being challenged by a parked out rival in a first quarter of 27.3 and a first half of 55.4, the Zabielski trainee didn’t get much of a breather heading to three quarters either as the favored Hudson Phil (Billy Dobson) came knocking on the door of the leader.
Those two sparred around the final turn but Optical Illusion N proved to be tough as nails as he dug in to win in 1:52.3 for a victory in his first ever Open try. Hudson Phil was a strong second while Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. Optical Illusion N paid $10.00 to win in the mild upset and led an exacta and triple that came back $36.20 and $144, respectively.
Optical Illusion N is owned by his trainer Lisa Zabielski in partnership with Kim Zabielski. The score was the first in local Opens this season for both Zabielski and reinsman Chris Long.
Photo: Renée Casavant