Stars Shine in Spring Series’ at Saratoga
For trainer Scott Mongeon, the year has gotten off to an incredible start. The Saratoga veteran came out of the gate strong to begin the 2022 campaign at the Spa led by trotter Wishing Barefoot. The future Open trotter has been the brightest star out of the Mongeon stable in the opening months of the season and while he continues to enjoy a terrific stretch in his first full year locally, it was another Mongeon-trained trotter who has been on a tear and provided her trainer with a very special moment last week.
Perfect Vixen had a solid freshman season in 2021 while mostly competing in the Excelsior Series of the New York Sire Stakes. As a two year old, the filly who Mongeon has had since the start of her young career, hit the board in five of her eight starts. The sophomore campaign has been much more productive thus far for Perfect Vixen who prevailed in her first two races and in four out of her first five before the start of the trotting series that began in April honoring the memory of her trainer’s father.
The kickoff of the ninth annual John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series on April 18th saw Perfect Vixen stamp herself as the one to beat. The filly was all business as she set a lifetime mark in leg one winning in a career-best 1:56.2 to let the competition know that she wanted to win this series. Perfect Vixen suffered a rare defeat after drawing post eight in leg two when she finished a strong third while facing stiff competition. The filly quickly returned to her winning ways in the third leg of the $10,000 per division series when she went coast-to-coast with regular driver John Stark Jr. at the controls heading into last Sunday’s Series Final. In addition to her speed and talent, Perfect Vixen has displayed her versatility this season, winning three times on the lead and three times from the off the pace in her six victories leading up to the $33,400 Series Final on Sunday. Drawing post three in the Final, Perfect Vixen wasted little time making the lead and the 1-5 betting favorite never suffered an anxious moment while wiring the field in 1:55.4, a new lifetime-best win clocking.
In a season that has been nothing shy of special thus far for Spa veteran Scott Mongeon, this win has to stand out as a special one. It’s the first time in the nearly decade long history that a Mongeon trainee has prevailed in the series named in the memory of Scott and his brother John Jr’s father who was a fixture in the Saratoga backstretch for decades before passing away in 2009. A blanket was presented in the winner’s circle to Perfect Vixen who now owns seven wins in nine starts to begin her sophomore season en route to earnings of over $46,000 following the series score. The victory no doubt will be remembered forever by her trainer Scott Mongeon who of course was on hand in the winner’s circle with brother John and a host of other friends and family as John Mongeon Sr. was memorialized with the special win by his son Scott’s talented and on-the-rise filly Perfect Vixen.
Perfect Vixen wasn’t the only talented filly/mare to enjoy series success at the Spa last week. Alittlesidehustl N drew the rail for her try in the $32,000 Virginia O’Brien Memorial for lady pacers. Due to a low amount of entrants, there was only one leg of the series leading up to Monday afternoon’s Final and Alittlesidehustl N drew the rail to be the big favorite. After all, the Jackie Greene-trained mare got up to win in the series’ lone leg as she moved her record at the Spa to five-for-six besting major danger Watermelon Sugar who came into the series on a six race win streak of her own. Billy Dobson piloted Alittlesidehustl N and sat the pocket with the public’s top choice in the four-horse Final. Things looked a little dicey for the Greene trainee late in the mile but she shook free in passing lane and meant business when she found open road. The four year old New Zealand invader added yet another to her win column when she got up to score in 1:54.1 and become the seventh winner in the history of the Virginia O’Brien Memorial. Alittlesidehustl N, like Perfect Vixen, is a rising star and not only has rattled off win after win but did so in the biggest race of her young career on Monday afternoon.
While both Perfect Vixen and Alittlesidehustl N scored as big favorites in their respective series, the overwhelming top choice in the JP Morel Memorial Pace didn’t fare as well. JM’s Rollin not only scored eight wins in his eight starts this year heading into his Series Final but had never trailed at any pole this season. Wire to wire victories…one after another. But in Saturday’s $31,900 Final, JM’s Rollin never even got to the start. He made an uncharacteristic and very costly break behind the gate, a break that took him right out of the race. The only other pacer to score victories in at least two of the series’ legs was Mega Miki who wound up moving first-over in the Final. The four year old, who is trained by Joel Flanders, grinded his way up alongside the leader before drawing away to win by almost two lengths, stopping the timer in 1:54.2. The talented pacer picked a good week to put in a career-best effort as he more than doubled his seasonal earnings in the Saturday score. Paying $12.80 to win, Mega Miki served as by far the longest shot to prevail in the spring series’ which reached their conclusion last week at the Spa. The favored JM’s Rollin never got back into the race and although the conclusion of his series was no doubt disappointing, it was a tremendous showing in the JP Morel Memorial for the youngster. As far as Mega Miki, a pacer who at times has had breaking issues in the early stages of his career, the future looks bright as he appears to be putting everything together now with eighteen lifetime starts under his belt. While the paths this season will be much different for Perfect Vixen, Alittlesidehustl N and Mega Miki, all three appear to be poised to build off strong series runs as they head towards the summer season on top of their game.
The live racing schedule will add Fridays beginning this week. Racing will take place every Friday and Saturday evening starting at 5PM and continue on Sunday and Monday afternoons with first post times of 12 Noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!