For the Beckwith name to be atop the trainer standings at Saratoga Casino Hotel is nothing new. In fact, it has been there throughout the better part of the last decade. Melissa and Mark Beckwith brought their stable to Saratoga full time in 2008 and they wasted no time displaying their winning way. Melissa Beckwith was named Horsewoman of the Year in 2009 and 2010. In the latter, the Beckwith barn raced each of its 378 starts at Saratoga and earned just shy of a half million dollars by way of 80 victories. The success in the ’09 and ’10 campaigns was a mere drop in the bucket compared to what was to come in the following years.
In 2011, Beckwith won her first ever training title as her stable almost doubled its number of starts from the previous year and yet the training percentage still increased. Earning just shy of a million dollars in 151 starts, the Beckwith barn had a career year in ’11 in what would be the first of three consecutive training titles for Beckwith. After two dominant years in ’11 and ’12, Beckwith’s training percentage took a bit of a dip in ’13 but it didn’t prevent her from being a rare trainer to earn three consecutive trainer’s championships at the Spa, the first to achieve the feat since Dave Spagnola did it in 1999-2001. Heidi Rohr won the training title in 2014 in a year that was the worst for the Beckwith barn since coming to town (it was still a strong season in which the stable won 90 races.) Then came 2015 when the stable had its best ever year. Beckwith trainees earned over $1 million dollars for the first time as she cruised to another training championship behind a terrific percentage of .419. Last season brought much of the same and Beckwith finished atop the standings to record her fifth title in the last six years.
If the first month of racing is any indication, 2017 could well wind up resulting in training title number six for Beckwith who has been on a tear. Entering the week, the Beckwith barn had 67 starts and won 20 of them. In addition, it had twelve seconds and ten thirds resulting in a training average of a nearly unheard of .448. It would seemingly be impossible for that percentage to go up in a week that the stable sent out nineteen horses to compete. Well, the number may just have increased as the Beckwith stable recorded seven wins.
The week started out in style for the Beckwith barn and even more so for driver Mark Beckwith. Beckwith piloted five winners on Thursday’s matinee card, the most of any day since the driving veteran became a Saratoga regular last decade. Of the five wins, four came with members of the Beckwith barn. Annabeth pulled off the upset in the Thursday feature. The six year old mare hit the board in her first three starts out of the Beckwith stable, all of which came while competing in the $12,000 Fillies and Mares Open. On Thursday, Annabeth was dismissed as the longshot in the feature, though while only at odds of 8-1 in the five horse field. Beckwith sat patiently in third with the barn’s top lady pacer before surging up the passing lane to win a photo with Bye Bye Michelle in the Open for distaffers which went in 1:54.1. It was the first win in an Open this year for a Beckwith trainee. After registering the Open score, three more Beckwith-trained ladies prevailed on Thursday as pacers Storyboard, Her Own Land and Olivia’s Z Tam all scored wire-to-wire wins.
Friday didn’t bring much of a letdown for the Beckwiths as the stable recorded another pair of wins while Mark scored a grand slam. That’s nine wins in two days in the sulky for Beckwith, a winner of close to 5,300 races in his almost 35 year career as a driver. Young pacer Beckarama, a horse bred (and subsequently named) by the Beckwiths, completed the driving four-bagger on Friday as the three year old registered his fifth win in eight seasonal starts. Beckarama scored a pair of victories at Monticello this winter and continued his winning ways after returning to the Spa. The sophomore scored back to back wins from post eight in early March and set a new lifetime mark on Friday by going coast to coast in 1:56.1. The up-and-coming pacer may not stop any time soon either as he still fits the same class in which he has rattled off three recent victories. Vaganova, a new addition to the Beckwith stable just this week, prevailed earlier in the card as well, bringing the two-day win total to six for the barn.
After a fairly unsuccessful Saturday, the Beckwith stable got the ship righted once again on Sunday when just two of its trainees started. Gaelic And Garlic was an 11-1 longshot in the $12,000 Open Trot and wound up getting a pocket trip behind local trotting stalwart Slugfest. Gaelic And Garlic kept up and gave Slugfest a run for his money in the stretch before coming up second best in a solid showing in the Sunday feature. Fittingly, the strong week for the stable wrapped up with a win on Sunday with trotter Barryscourt. An earner of more than a quarter million dollars as a two and three year old, he was purchased by Beckwith and co-owner Tom Mc Tygue this winter. Barryscourt got off to a slow start to his Saratoga career while making no impact in his first two starts. The tune quickly changed though and the four year old trotter came into Sunday’s race looking for three wins in a row. He made it look easy, coasting to a wire-to-wire win at odds of 1-5 to complete a hat trick. A few more weeks like last and the Beckwith training title count is likely to move to six after what has been a giant start to the season for the track’s defending top conditioner.
Live racing takes place each week on Thursday and Sunday afternoons at 12:15pm while Friday and Saturday night cards begin at 6:45pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!