Paul Zabielski’s training career started back in the 80’s and the local conditioner broke out in the 1985 season when he won the Peerless McGrath Award for up-and-coming trainers at Saratoga. Ever since, the now-veteran has been a fixture at the Spa. Zabielski thrived throughout the 90’s and in 1997, he was the top trainer at Saratoga winning what would be his lone training title in a season in which he won a career-high 52 races. Paul did double duty for many years coupling his training career with one as a teacher for the BOCES program which gives youngsters a chance to work with horses and see the ins and outs of what it takes to train them. After leaving that program several years back, Paul seemed reinvigorated and his training numbers again picked up. In 2012, Zabielski trainees piled up purses of over $322,000, a figure that at the time was the most in the now roughly 35 year career of the veteran conditioner. That was up until 2018 when Zabielski trainees would earn more than $335,000 highlighted by an historic season by a horse that was no stranger to Saratoga and reasserted herself upon returning to town.
Spreester, the daughter of former Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year Rodeo Spree, established herself as a star early on in her career. Spreester won eight times in ten starts in 2013 including a stretch in which she rattled off six consecutive victories before taking home the award for Two Year Old Pacer of the Year at the Spa. She followed up her breakout freshman season with a ’14 campaign that saw her earn just dollars shy of $200,000. She was named Three Year Old Pacer of the Year at the Spa at conclusion of her sophomore year and subsequently became the first horse in over a decade to go back-to-back as Two Year Old and Three Year Old Pacer. After selling her in 2016, Zabielski re-acquired Spreester last year when owner Kevin Quinn, of Saratoga Springs, decided to purchase the star mare. To say she paid immediate dividends would be an understatement as Spreester became the dominant force in the local Fillies and Mares Open in ’18 and was not only named Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year but shared Horse of the Year honors with superstar pacer Artful Way. Spreester had her fourth career six-figure season after winning the Open eight times with six second-place finishes against the track’s top lady pacers. After a slow start to her ’19 campaign, Spreester is right back in Open company at the Spa. Though she is still seeking her first win of the year against the track’s top-flight mares, she is again establishing herself as one of the top distaffers at the Spa for Zabielski who is having another fantastic season thus far.
Paul isn’t the only Zabielski thriving of late as his daughter Lisa’s stable has gone on an absolute tear in recent weeks. Though Lisa’s training career dates back to 2011, it wasn’t until the ’17 season when she started to pile up the starts. That year, she started 324 horses winning a modest 25 times. Last season, her stats were very similar, tallying 26 victories in 285 starts. It is safe to say, even four just months into the ’19 campaign at the Spa, that Lisa’s 2019 numbers will blow her previous ones out of the water. Despite getting off to a bit of a slow start to her year, Zabielski has simply exploded in recent weeks. In the last roughly six weeks, Lisa’s barn has boomed with a surge leading up to her first Open victories. Lisa recently acquired trotter Mugshots Bro who, though he did record an Open win last season, has raced in large part in Winners Over and upper level conditional ranks over the past few years. On Sunday afternoon, June 9th, making just his second start out of his new stable, Mugshots Bro went coast-to-coast in the $15,000 Open Trot giving Zabielski her first ever win in a local Open. Following up a second-place finish in which he got a tough, first-over journey in his debut out of Lisa’s barn, Mugshots Bro went right down the road to record his second career local Open victory doing so by more than four lengths in 1:55 flat, besting the track’s defending Trotter of the Year Ulster in the process.
Just a little less than a week after Mugshots Bro accounted for Lisa Zabielski’s first ever Open win, her stable scored its second victory in a local feature. One of Zabielski’s primary owners, Bill Reepmeyer, claimed pacing mare Osprey Blue Chip who stepped up and won the Winners Over for the ladies the following week, upsetting at odds of 14-1. It was then up into the Open for Osprey Blue Chip who didn’t factor in her debut in the Thursday feature. The story quickly changed last week though when she was assigned the rail in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open. With reinsman Brett Crawford at the controls, Osprey Blue Chip got away third in the six-horse feature and stuck to the pylon path throughout the mile. After the favorites battled it out, Osprey Blue Chip surged up in passing lane in the stretch before coming on to win in 1:54.4. It was the mare’s first lifetime victory in the local feature and gave Lisa Zabielski her second career Open score, and second of the week. On Sunday’s matinee card, Mugshots Bro was assigned the outside post in the six-horse Open Trot. On a rainy Fathers Day afternoon, reinsman Jimmy Devaux took the rising star back and settled him into fifth. Picking up the cover of millionaire trotter Cash Me Out approaching the half, Mugshots Bro wound up parlaying his second-over journey into his second consecutive Open Trot win when he scored in 1:56 over a track labeled ‘sloppy.’ It was the third career Open score for the seven year old recent Zabielski acquisition and the third Open win in eight days for the Lisa Zabielski stable which had previously never recorded a victory in a local Open. The Zabielskis will once again square off this Thursday with their stables’ leading ladies when Spreester and Osprey Blue Chip battle it out for supremacy among the track’s top lady pacers in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Paul and Lisa Zabielski each have stables that are thriving right now at Saratoga which is nothing new for the veteran father but is quite a development for his daughter who finds herself in the midst of a breakout campaign at the Spa.
Live racing takes place every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoon starting at 12 Noon and on Saturday evening with a 6:45pm first post. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!