Trainer Dave Dewhurst has pretty much been through it all in his over four-decade long career in harness racing. The former Vernon Downs top trainer has focused his attention more at Saratoga in recent years and has enjoyed continued success. Dewhurst finished just outside the top twenty in the local trainer standings in 2022 but did so while enjoying a career best season in terms of purses earned. His close to $1.1 million in purses bested his previous career high which set the year before. The ’23 campaign for Dewhurst has again seen him thriving and perhaps more than ever before as he found himself just outside the top five among local trainers heading into last week’s action at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The veteran conditioner had a big first few weeks of the month of May highlighted by some of his trainees competing and dominating in spring series’ being contested in addition to an old reliable Open trotter that his stable has featured for the last several years.
As the calendar turned to May a few weeks ago, the annual spring series’ got underway at the Spa. Dewhurst sent out what could have been perceived as the favorite in the Doctor Richard Frank Memorial Pacing Series. After all, Primo Uomo entered the series as a six-time winner in ’23 in just eight seasonal tries. City Of Hope was set to take place in the John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series but although she brought five seasonal wins with her into leg one of that series, she didn’t have the same kind of sparkling resume building as her stablemate Primo Uomo did. Primo Uomo continued his winning ways in the Doc Frank Memorial and rattled off three consecutive victories in the three legs to head into last week’s Series Final as the only undefeated pacer among the series’ participants.
In contrast to Primo Uomo on the pacing side, City Of Hope got his series off to a disappointing start when he made a rare break in the first leg of the Mongeon Memorial. As has been the norm for Dewhurst trainees this year though, it didn’t take the three year old trotter long to get back to his winning ways in leg two. Leaving to overcome post eight, City Of Hope wound up springing a leg two upset when he went coast-to-coast at odds of 12-1. Leg three saw the Dewhurst trainee punch his ticket to the Final of the tenth annual Mongeon Memorial Trot as he repeated and did so in career-best fashion on May 15th, a day in which Dewhurst recorded three wins on the card. The Monday hat trick came just one day after the 56 year old trainer swept the top trotting events at Saratoga led by longtime Open stalwart Dewey Arnold who prevailed in the Open for the second time in a month and for the third time in ’23. Dewey Arnold, a nominee for Trotter of the Year at Saratoga last season, continues to be a force among local high-steppers as he is on pace to post a six-figure campaign in what would be the third consecutive year in which that has occurred.
Dewhurst hoped to ride his hot streak into last Monday’s action, a day in which he would feature six of his trainees, two of whom would participate in Series Finals. Although Primo Uomo has enjoyed a monster season, the Dr. Richard Frank Memorial Final featured several razor sharp pacers including Boozer who is the only local horse to have piled up more wins on the year than Primo Uomo who drew post five for his try in the $39,400 Final. By the time super sophomore Primo Uomo set hoof on the track on Monday, Dewhurst had already recorded a pair of victories on the card. Primo Uomo was the overwhelming favorite as he posted a new lifetime mark en route to a series sweep by way of a 1:54.1 culmination to the Dr Richard Frank Memorial Pace.
Dewhurst sought his fourth victory of the day and third straight on the card when City Of Hope looked to make history. Nine different drivers and nine different trainers had recorded victories in the first nine installments of the John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trot. City Of Hope could change all that as Dewhurst and his regular reinsman, leading driver Jimmy Devaux, had previously teamed up with old friend Dewey Arnold to win the Mongeon Trot back in 2021. The red-hot combo of Dewhurst and Devaux indeed stayed sizzling as City Of Hope parlayed a pocket trip to victory as the 3-5 betting favorite in the $39,800 Final. The win marked the first time any trainer (or driver) won the Mongeon Memorial twice and the first time for any connections to win multiple spring series’ in the same season, let alone the same day!
With the historic sweep already under his belt, Dewhurst had one more of his trainees to watch on Monday. Young pacer Rockadoodledoo is new to the Dewhurst stable and after a few tries out of town, the three year old made his Saratoga debut in a race that could only be seen as icing on the cake on a magical afternoon for Dewhurst and pilot Jimmy Devaux. The powerful pair added another win to their unbelievable tally for the day when Rockadoodledoo scored a mild upset in the matinee’s finale to give Dewhurst five victories and Devaux an unbelievable seven scores on the historic afternoon. Dewhurst vaulted all the way up to third in the trainer standings at Saratoga after a certainly lucrative and no doubt memorable Monday for a trainer who has experienced pretty much all you can experience in the sport of harness racing but has never had a day like he did with over the course of his five-bagger, series sweep matinee.
Live racing takes place every Saturday evening with a first post of 5pm and continues every Sunday and Monday afternoon with matinees that kick off at noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!