For driver Jimmy Devaux, the dominance in the sulky at Saratoga Casino Hotel has lasted for three years. The veteran reinsman has gone wire-to-wire atop the driver standings this year while in pursuit of his third consecutive driving title at the Spa. With less than a month remaining in the 2023 campaign, the 56 year old has all but wrapped up the championship once again. Building an insurmountable lead this summer, Devaux has continued to lengthen the lead over his closest competitors in recent weeks and on Saturday, the soon to be threpeating sulky star had his best night of the year.
The eleven race Saturday program saw Devaux have drives in all but one of the events on the card. Wasting no time getting into the win column, Jimmy piloted Need Arocket to the claiming pacer’s second consecutive wire-to-wire score. The meet’s leading driver quickly secured a hat trick on the evening when he guided pacers Horsche and Delightful Joe to mild upsets in their respective races leading up to the feature on the card, the $15,000 Open Pace.
Devaux has been the regular driver for trainer Lisa Zabielski this season and the pair has enjoyed massive success. Devaux has gotten the first call for Zabielski trainees and he has, in almost every instance, chosen to drive the members of her stable when given the opportunity. On Saturday, Devaux sat behind the Zabielski-trained Seventh Secret who drew post four for his try in the Open Pace. The twelve year old came to the Spa early in the year and quickly climbed the class ranks from mid-level claimers all the way up into the Open this summer. The veteran pulled off of one the biggest upsets in local Open history in September. Following two starts in which he finished second and third in back-to-back tries in the pacing feature, Seventh Secret drew post eight in a start in which he would be dismissed at odds of 89-1. After getting away last and spotting the leader a dozen length head start, Devaux tipped the classy vet to the far outside at the three-quarter pole when they were still last in the eight-horse Open. It was around the final turn when Seventh Secret started picking off horses one by one before completing his swoop of the group to pull off the shocker and pay over $180 to win. A few weeks later, the Zabielski trainee proved that the Open score was no fluke when he again came from off the pace to register another win in the regular Saturday feature.
Seventh Secret has had nothing but outside posts over the course of the last two months of competing in the Open Pace. On Saturday night, he drew post four for his try in the $15,000 feature. In the midst of an already strong evening, Devaux wasted little time blasting Seventh Secret out to the early lead in pursuit of a wire-to-wire score. The 8-5 betting favorite had little difficulty completing a start-to-finish victory, stopping the timer in 1:53.1 for his seventh win of the season and third in the Open. Devaux continued to be the star of pacing night at the Spa when he guided another pair of winners on the card, including one with Initial Concept who completed a training double on the card for Zabielski. A “six pack” for Devaux on an evening in which he had ten drives. Not that there was any doubt before that he’d become a three-time driving champion at the Spa in ’23 but if there was any question who would end up atop the standings among local reinsmen this season, those questions were emphatically answered with the dominant effort last weekend.
The historic threepeat season for Devaux has consisted of plenty of big-time wins among his close to 300 local driving victories and several of them have come in recent weeks. Earlier in the campaign, Jimmy sat behind series winners when he won the John Mongeon Memorial Trot and the Dr. Richard Frank Memorial Pace contested this spring. Trainer Dave Dewhurst, another of the conditioners for whom Devaux regularly drives, it was a sweep of the spring series’ when his City Of Hope and Primo Uomo, two young up-and-coming stars secured the biggest wins of their young careers. City Of Hope’s season has come full circle as although he is just a three year old, the young high-stepper has already moved up into the Open.
Devaux sat behind City Of Hope on November 12th as the rookie made his second lifetime start in the local Open Trot. After fading on the front-end in his debut against the track’s top trotters, City Of Hope wound up getting a pocket trip from Devaux before surging in the stretch to record the victory in the $15,000 Sunday feature. It was win number fourteen on the campaign for the breakout star of the Dewhurst stable. For Devaux, it was just another win in an Open for the veteran reinsman who continues to make it look easy. Dewhurst’s millionairess Racine Bell overcame her outside post to score in the most recent edition of the Fillies and Mares Open before this Monday’s installment took place. So for Devaux, it was three victories in a stretch of four Opens contested at the Spa in the last two weeks. Although winning has sort of become old hat for the still on top of his game sulky star, the Saturday evening Devaux had may well have been as strong of a performance that we’ve seen from the soon to be three-time Driver of the Year at Saratoga.
Live racing takes place every Saturday evening during the month of November with action starting at 5pm while matinees will be carded every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with first post times of noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!