Friday Trotting Feature Up For Grabs

Cash Me Out was named Trotter of the Year in each of the last two seasons in which awards have been given out at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Kyle Spagnola trainee took home Horse of the Year honors as well as being recognized as the track’s top high-stepper in ’19 and after there were no awards in the abbreviated 2020 campaign, Cash Me Out was again named the Spa’s Trotter of the Year last season. This year, the Open Trot has become one of the most wide open races of the week and while a few horses have put in stretches of dominance, there has been no standout among local trotters at the highest level here in ’22.

As we sit here not yet even at the midpoint of August, to try and analyze what horse or horses may be the favorite to be named Trotter of the Year would be a bit ambitious and quite frankly foolhardy. But when doing a deeper dive into the patterns of the Open Trot this year, the results give an interesting look into the race within the race towards eventually earning top honors among trotters at the Spa.

The first two months of the season saw four different winners in the first five installments of the Open Trot. Familiar faces Gigfy and Squee Hanover, two of the nominees for Trotter of the Year last season at the Spa, combined to win the first three Opens contested in February. A beaten favorite in Opens early on in the meet, Dewey Arnold, a complete superstar over the course of his young career, had a monster season ’21. His sophomore campaign was highlighted by a second-place finish in the $200,000 NY Sire Stakes Final but it was his starts at Saratoga which garnered the attention locally. Dewey Arnold swept the John Mongeon Sr. Memorial Trotting Series contested in the springtime and that series served as a good prep for what the Dave Dewhurst trainee would encounter over the course of the summertime in stakes competition. At the conclusion of the successful stakes stint, Dewey Arnold returned to the Spa and raced in the Open four times before wrapping up his season. In those four starts, the youngster earned two wins and finished second twice to conclude a $257,000+ sophomore year.

Dewey Arnold kicked off his ’22 with three unsuccessful starts in the Open Trot at the Spa. On March 6th, the four year old rediscovered the winning way again prevailing against the top trotters in the $15,000 feature. That win broke the seal for the Dewhurst trainee who quickly rattled off three Open scores in a row locally before competing out of town and going on to win five consecutive races. The three straight Open victories would be the only time of the season, to date, that any trotter has scored a hat trick in the Open Trot. We are sure to see the well-traveled Dewey Arnold back at the Spa very soon.

In the midst of the springtime run by past Open winners Gigfy, Squee Hanover and Dewey Arnold, there were three trotters who won the feature for the first time in their career. Powerscourt, Bluffinner and Tour De Lindy were all first-time Open winners early on this spring and while a few more victories from the likes of Squee Hanover and Dewey Arnold were sprinkled in throughout, there was an extended period of time from about mid-April through mid-July where Cash Me Out and Reign Of Honor enjoyed stretches of dominance in the Open. Cash Me Out’s accomplishments have been chronicled in this column for years. The superstar Spa veteran has earnings of close to $1.4 million in his career and is by far the winningest horse in the local Open over the course of the last five years. Cash Me Out, at the age of eleven, is still winning Opens and, in fact, did so three times over a five week span from April to early May. Another first time Open winner Remember Titans then rattled off a pair of scores in that time and all of it served as a precursor to a run by a trotter who has spent much of his summer in the winner’s circle at the Spa.

Reign Of Honor had a brief stint at Saratoga in the summer of ’21 and during his stay here, the talented trotter recorded three wins in his four starts including a pair of victories in the Open. Fast forward to this season and the six year old with over a half million dollars on his card switched to the stable of Kevin Mc Dermott who is calling Saratoga home for the first time in his lengthy training career. Reign Of Honor immediately thrived upon returning to town and went three-for-three before moving back to the Open ranks. He did that in early June and promptly moved his win streak to four. Fast forward a month and a half and Reign Of Honor has three wins and two runner-up tries in the Open despite not having a post position better than six. The summer has belonged to Reign Of Honor amongst Open high-steppers at the top level.

The reign of Reign Of Honor has been paused in recent weeks and following early July victories from he and Cash Me Out, we have seen three more first-time Open winners score in the last three Friday nights. ER Sophia and Angel Nation sprung mild upsets in the two installments of the Open leading up to last weekend. Despite both of them being joined by Reign Of Honor (Cash Me Out was scheduled to take part but was scratched), we saw yet another trotter prevail in the $16,000 feature for the first time on Friday. Larry Stalbaum’s Oh So Pine was dismissed at odds of 47-1. The longshot got a pocket trip and surged up the inside to become the most unlikely of the twelve different winners of the Open Trot thus far this season. The Open has now seen five different winners in the last five weeks in a race that has become one of the most wide open of any level at the Spa these days. Yes, we’re still a good three months away from even considering candidates for nomination for Trotter of the Year at Saratoga but if the first six months are any indication of what is to come, trying to even select the three or four nominees to be considered for the honor is sure to be a difficult task. Reign Of Honor has three Open scores and has appeared dominant at times while Dewey Arnold and yes, that horse again, Cash Me Out each lead the way with four Open victories thus far in 2022 among a strong group of trotters competing at the highest level at the Spa. Could Cash Me Out possibly be the first horse in track history to be named Trotter of the Year three different times? Let alone three in a row! He may not be vintage Cash Me Out these days he’s found a way to win as many Opens as any other trotter thus far throughout the first six months of the ’22 campaign at the Spa in what could be a fascinating battle among top-flight trotters as we continue to navigate through the summer and into the fall season.

Live racing takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening throughout the month of August with first post time each night scheduled for 6:45pm.

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