It isn’t very often that any horse is a favorite week after week. Once in a while, a claimer becomes a dominant force at a particular level and if he or she doesn’t get claimed, sometimes can rattle off a stretch in which he is a favorite for a month or so. In some cases, this horse might get claimed but still remains a favorite of the betting public because of his recent dominance. Mademoiselle Paris had her streak of being the favorite snapped on Friday night as the pacing mare drew post position seven in the evening’s finale while squaring off against a couple of strong rivals. Competing for almost all of the season out of the Beckwith stable, Mademoiselle Paris is the winningest horse of the 2016 season at Saratoga Casino Hotel having prevailed thirteen times since coming to the Spa this spring. Heading into her Friday tilt, Mademoiselle Paris had been the favorite in each of her previous eight starts. Even more incredibly, the six year old mare was the public choice in twelve out of her last thirteen races. A mare that has pretty much locked up the award for Filly and Mare Claiming Pacer at the Spa, Mademoiselle Paris has been heavily backed at a nearly unheard of rate at the windows by those wagering on her races in the last several months.
While being favored so often in a given stretch for Mademoiselle Paris is extremely rare, it isn’t unheard of for a sharp claimer to go through that kind of period when he or she is consistently bet down. For an Open caliber horse to do it at Saratoga is so beyond rare that it may be unprecedented. Longtime standardbred owner Marc Reynolds also does work as a horse agent and had been scoping out Givenupdreaming when the pacer was racing in Ontario last year. Reynolds expressed interest and brokered a deal for the horse to be purchased by national star trainer Ron Burke and one of his owners Weaver Bruscemi. Burke raced the-then four year old about a dozen times out of town at a host of tracks before bringing Givenupdreaming to Saratoga to compete on closing weekend of the 2015 season. The Spa first-timer went coast to coast in the $13,000 Winners Over in his local debut as the race’s 6-5 betting favorite. That start served as the only one in which Givenupdreaming would race locally under the guidance of Burke but wouldn’t be the last time he would prevail at the Spa and certainly wouldn’t be the last time he would be the public’s choice in the wagering.
Burke has sent some horses to Saratoga in the past to trainer Heidi Rohr and in June, he did just that with Givenupdreaming. When Burke sent the horse to the Spa, Reynolds, already an owner of Rohr’s, expressed the desire to buy a piece him. Burke obliged and Reynolds was listed alongside Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi in the program when the horse made his debut in the Open Pace on June 4th. Givenupdreaming came from off the pace and scored an impressive victory in 1:51.2 that night while piloted by Stephane Bouchard. He followed that win up with another victory the following week when he went a long way first over and stopped the timer in 1:59.1 in what was the final Open Pace this year to be contested at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. After recording a win in the Open at Plainridge in Massachusetts, it was back to Saratoga for Givenupdreaming who was assigned post position eight in a race that would see him suffer his first local defeat. That start wound up being the final one for the next several months in which the five year old standout wouldn’t be the betting favorite.
Following a 1:49.3 career best score at Plainridge and a dazzling performance in the Paul Bunyan Invitational Race contested at Bangor Raceway in which he won in 1:51.2, a nearly unheard of time for a track in the state of Maine, Giveupdreaming returned to the Spa. With the program showing his impressive miles week in and week out, Givenupdreaming has become a favorite of the bettors and when he raced in last Saturday’s $16,000 installment of the local Open, it was the eleventh consecutive start in which Givenupdreaming was the betting favorite. If a claimer like Mademoiselle Paris being a favorite in eight straight starts is rare, for an Open Pacer like Giveupdreaming to fill that role is pretty much unheard of. Competing against Saratoga’s top flight horses every week while starting from outside post positions, Givenupdreaming has displayed the consistency and versatility to warrant being the public’s choice in every start for three months.
Givenupdreaming wound up fading to a fifth place finish in Saturday’s Open, unable to overcome blistering first half fractions of 26.3 and 54.4 on the lead while once again going off as the public’s top choice, albeit a lukewarm one at odds of 9-5. The rare disappointing finish for Givenupdreaming does nothing to lessen what has been a dynamic year for the Rohr trainee, a year that will surely end with him being a nominee for Pacer of the Year at the Spa. Givenupdreaming has recorded four wins in the local Open, a number second only to Artful Way, to go with a pair of seconds in eleven starts in the Saturday feature. Givenupdreaming isn’t your prototypical Saratoga star. Though he has been very strong in the races in which he has made the lead, Givenupdreaming has done just as much of his damage when coming from off the pace. The extremely strong closer has been battle tested both locally and in his starts out of town and has passed every test. Reynolds, who now owns the horse with his friend Billy Hartt as well as the Rohr Racing Stable, says that the pacer has been a pleasure from the start. He acknowledges that they have found a good blend of leaving with Givenupdreaming and having him race as a closer with visions of protecting him in order to have the horse compete at a top level for quite some time. In addition to Rohr and Bouchard, who has driven the pacer in each of his local starts since joining the Rohr stable, Reynolds credits the horse’s primary groom Oliver Peramus for the incredible care he has given the horse who will no doubt be considered as one of the favorites for Pacer of the Year and has become a “favorite” of the bettors since coming to the Spa full time in June.
Live racing takes place every Thursday at Saratoga beginning at 4pm and continues on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 6:45pm. First post time for Sunday matinees is 12:15pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!