There were three divisions of the first leg of the Gary Kamal Memorial Pacing Series contested on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Pickup Man Hanover (Huntsville) enjoyed a dynamic freshman campaign in 2021 which saw him hit the board in all eight starts en route to more than $110,000 in earnings.
The Simone Noud trainee made just the third start of his sophomore season on Saturday and cut the mile in his $12,500 division of the series. Driver Luke Hanners powered Pickup Man Hanover out to the lead in the early going and despite being tested for the majority of the mile held strong in the stretch to prevail in 1:54 and set a new lifetime mark. After recording leg one’s fastest victory on Saturday, Pickup Man Hanover established himself as perhaps the one to beat in the annual fall series.
The Andy Gardner-trained Special FX (Sportswriter) drew the rail in his division of the series and driver Chris Long got the four year old a pocket trip. The race’s odds-on favorite Wolftrax (Shawn Gray) got parked the mile but fought gamely every step of the way before losing a photo with Special FX at the wire. The Gardner trainee paid $12.60 in the mild upset. Wolftrax, who had to settle for second, will be one to watch in the remainder of the series.
The final division of the first leg of the Kamal Memorial went the way of Skyline Blue Chip (American Ideal). Despite the fact that the Gary Levine trainee came into the series on a two-race win streak, Skyline Blue Chip was dismissed at odds of 10-1 when he got a pocket trip from leading driver Jimmy Devaux. The three year old pacer cruised up the inside to record the upset while matching his lifetime mark while scoring in 1:55.2. Devaux piloted four winners on the Saturday card.
Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a first post time set for noon. There will be a Pick Five carryover of $1,995 beginning in the matinee’s first race.
Photo: Melissa Simser