Trainer Dave Dewhurst has called Vernon Downs home for the majority of his career. The veteran conditioner has been a staple at the “miracle mile” since getting into the business almost four decades ago. Since the season at Saratoga Casino Hotel is significantly longer than the one at Vernon, Dewhurst has spent a lot of his time at Saratoga in recent years. The 56 year old had his biggest ever season last year, at least as far as purses won, when his trainees piled up more than $1 million in earnings. A picture of consistency over the course of his career, Dewhurst has more than 2,300 wins as a trainer and close to $12.5 million in purses. Splitting his season up between Vernon and Saratoga in ’22, Dewhurst featured stable stars Dewey Arnold, a four-time Open Trot winner and nominee for Trotter of the Year at the Spa, Makadushin N Cheez, an up-and-comer who earned over $100,000 as a three year old last season and superstar mare Racine Bell who has been one of the top lady pacers in North America since kicking off her career in 2019. Racine Bell is approaching the $1 million mark in career earnings and has maintained her top-flight status in the last couple of seasons. The superstar distaffer has been an Open winner at the Spa on a few occasions over the course of her sensational career.
Dewey Arnold, the trotting star from the Dewhurst stable over the course of the last few years, recorded his fourth start in the local Open on Sunday afternoon (March 5). The five year old moved his career earnings to just shy of the $400,000 mark with a second-place finish in the feature. An Open winner in February, Dewey Arnold maintains his status as one of the top trotters at the track although over the course of the year, he splits his time between the Spa and several other tracks. Last Sunday, the Dewhurst stable’s trotting star again was the runner-up in the $17,000 Open and has now finished first or second in five of his six starts in the ’23 campaign.
On the same afternoon in which Dewey Arnold finished second in the trotting feature, the Dewhurst stable scored a pair of victories with another trotting duo. Jimmy Devaux, who has won the driving title in the last two seasons at Saratoga, is the regular pilot for Dewhurst trainees and started out the Sunday card by piloting Sweet Sofie T to a win in a low-level conditional race for Dewhurst. Later in the day, Makadushin N Cheez, a nominee for Three Year Old Trotter of the Year at Saratoga last year in a season in which he earned $126,593 by way of twelve victories and 27 starts in the money in his 33 tries, got back into the win column. Makadushin N Cheez got a pocket trip in the $15,525 Winners Over for trotters and roared home in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:58 for his first victory of the season. The score completed a Sunday double for Dewhurst. Makadushin N Cheez is looking like an Open caliber trotter and may wind up competing against the track’s top high-steppers very soon, especially if Dewey Arnold winds up racing elsewhere for Dewhurst in the coming weeks and months.
Training doubles have kind of become the norm in the early stages of the ’23 for Dewhurst as the Sunday one with Sweet Sofie T and Makadushin N Cheez was the third in as many weeks for the veteran conditioner. A powerful pair of youngsters Primo Uomo and City of Hope has been Monday menaces for their competition in the early portion of the racing season at the Spa. Primo Uomo showed promise as a two year old in ’22 when he prevailed in his second lifetime start which took place here at Saratoga late in November. After cruising to victory in a qualifier to prep for the start of his sophomore campaign, Primo Uomo came out strong in 2023 winning his first start back. The young pacer just kept getting better each week as he scored in 1:56.2 by eleven lengths and then set a lifetime mark of 1:551 on February 27th when he completed a double with stablemate City Of Hope for the second consecutive Monday.
Young trotting colt City Of Hope showed promise as a two year old for Dewhurst when he competed primarily in the Excelsior Division of the NY Sire Stakes. He broke his maiden last season in one of his tries in a $15,000 Excelsior. Kicking off his three year old campaign last month, City Of Hope prevailed for the dynamic Dewhurst-Devaux duo in his first start back and went on to rattle off back-to-back jacks when he parlayed a pocket trip to victory in his second start of ’23. In the third race of his sophomore season, City Of Hope again followed in stablemate Primo Oumo’s hoofsteps when he cruised to victory on Feb 27 to extend his win streak to three and keep the Dewhurst stable red hot. Three pocket-sitting victories in three starts for City Of Hope who is installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite for his Monday start in which he’ll look to begin his season with a grand slam. Primo Uomo is the top choice in the Monday morning line at odds of 6-5 as the Dewhurst-trained three year olds look to continue their sensational start.
Dave Dewhurst comes into this week’s action in the top five in the very early season trainer standings and with a good chance of adding another victory or two…or more to his tally on Monday. Not only will Primo Uomo and City Of Hope look to extend their win streaks and add to Dewhurst’s growing win total, they’ll be joined on Monday by a Dewhurst trainee making her first start of the year. Defiant Lady earned almost $74,000 as a freshman in 2022 and did so without even winning a race! Dewhurst’s young filly hit the board in five of her eleven tries last year while competing in the big time Sire Stakes races in a season that was highlighted by a third-place finish in the $200,000 Stakes Final. Although she has just one qualifier since last September, Defiant Lady is the 7-5 morning line chalk for her Monday try on a matinee card that looks like a promising one for Dewhurst. The top-five conditioner has teamed up with back-to-back driving champ Jimmy Devaux for each one of his wins in the early portion of the ’23 season at the Spa, a span of six weeks that couldn’t have gone much better for the veteran, Vernon-based trainer. Devaux has once again gotten off to a great beginning to his season and has quickly taken his place atop the driver standings aided in large part by being the pilot for the Dewhurst stable’s hot start.
Live racing takes place every Saturday evening starting at 5pm and continues with matinees every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday starting at noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!