Phil Fluet has called Saratoga Casino Hotel home since 2015. The third generation horseman had a pair of training titles to his credit when he came to town and quickly fit in to the local horseman community. Balancing the management of a stable and catch-driving, Fluet enjoyed success right away upon making Saratoga his home and in ’15, the native of western New York took home the Johnny Page and Peerless McGrath Awards which recognize the track’s top up-and-coming/breakthrough driver and trainer, respectively, for that season. In each year since, Fluet has enjoyed more and more success and has even been a nominee for Horseman of the Year at the Spa on a couple of occasions.
After ending up sixth in the driver standings in 2020, Fluet is set to have his best ever finish this year. Phil is poised to finish fourth among local reinsmen in ’21, a position in the standings that he currently holds and after a huge day last week may have just secured that spot. The regular driver for 2019 Horse of the Year Cash Me Out this season, Fluet enjoyed as big of a day as he’s had in his time at the Spa on Monday’s trotting heavy program. The 43 year old had three of his trainees racing that afternoon among his nine total drives. After finishing third in the matinee’s opener, Fluet secured a second-place finish in an $11,500 trotting race with his Mystical Somolli and a third in the first leg of the “Bullet” Bob Meyer Memorial Trotting Series with Notmeitsyou. Those were solid starts to begin the afternoon for Fluet but his day would get significantly better from there.
Driving for trainer Kyle Spagnola, Fluet sat behind Deswanslittlelorie in the $13,000 Winners Over trot, a race that served as the undercard to the day’s feature. The four year old mare has been on a tear since coming to town in late September hitting the board in all eight of her local tries since joining the Spagnola stable. Deswanslittlelorie stepped up in company on Monday off four wins in her previous five starts. Fluet put the young mare on the front end and she took it from there, continuing her winning ways behind a coast-to-coast score. Soon after, it was time for the superstar to appear on the track.
Cash Me Out’s successes have been well chronicled in my column for close to a decade. The ten year old has earned more than $1.3 million in his illustrious career. With no awards given out last year, Cash Me Out is still the defending Horse of the Year at the Spa after earning the honor after enjoying a monster ’19 campaign. This season, the Spagnola trainee has been at it again and is the winningest horse in the Open Trot. On Monday, the classy millionaire went wire-to-wire in the $15,000 feature to win for the twelfth time of the season and become a nine-time Open winner in ’21. In every one of Cash Me Out’s 29 local starts this year, Fluet has been his driver. The nine Open wins matches pacing mare Surreal Feeling for the most of any horse at the Spa this season and thus will once again make Cash Me Out one of the favorites to take home honors for Trotter and perhaps even Horse of the Year in 2021.
The pair of victories for the tandem of Fluet and Kyle Spagnola weren’t the only wins of the day for the rising sulky star. In fact, they didn’t account for the only trips to the winner’s circle he would take that afternoon behind Spagnola trainees. Margaret Spagnola had six horses in on Monday and Fluet sat behind three of them. After that pairing teamed up for a third place finish with Cartier Volo, a trotting mare who was coming off back-to-back jacks with Fluet in the bike, Phil piloted young trotter Yankee Bluestone and veteran high-stepper Amazing Sevens. Yankee Bluestone had third-place finishes in four of the five starts in which Fluet has sat behind him. On Monday, the three year old left to get a pocket ride and parlayed that journey to an upset victory at odds of 14-1.
With three wins already to his credit for the day, Fluet piloted Spagnola’s Amazing Sevens who drew the rail in his division of the first leg of the “Bullet” Bob Meyer Memorial Series for trotters. Fluet rebuffed a pair of fellow leavers and Amazing Sevens wound up cutting the mile in the $10,000 race. After working hard in the early going, Amazing Sevens backed things down significantly in the middle half before kicking away from his rivals to decisively score by two and a half lengths. The win was the fourth of the day for Fluet and his fourth while driving a Spagnola trainee, two for Kyle and two for Margaret. After his biggest day of the season, Fluet propelled his career win total to 998. He is just two victories away from reaching the noteworthy 1,000 win plateau, a mark that seemed unlikely to be achieved so quickly just a few years ago when Fluet first landed at Saratoga. 2019 is still the winningest year for Phil as both a driver and trainer but one could certainly make the case that the ’21 campaign has been the standout one in the career of Fluet and certainly is in regards to his placement in the driver standings. Barring something unforeseen, Phil Fluet will end up fourth this year among local reinsmen and will likely hit the 1,000 career win mark this week in what has been the best year locally for a horseman who can certainly now be considered a Saratoga stronghold. With less than a month left in the season, the seventh year of racing full-time at the Spa for Phil Fluet has been one to remember as he is finishing strong behind his recent a hot streak with a career milestone forthcoming.
Live racing takes place every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afternoon in the final month of the season at Saratoga. First post time each day is 12 noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!