A big crowd came out to Saratoga Casino Hotel on a hot Saturday night as the 13th annual Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace highlighted a star-studded program. The richest race of the year at the Spa, the $250,000 Gerrity looked on paper to be a great one. In years past, there have been some historic performances in the Gerrity including two occasions when the all-time track record was broken. In 2013, Bolt The Duer invaded Saratoga and dazzled the crowd in the Gerrity. The superstar stopped the timer in a previously unheard of 1:49 to set the track record in a showing so impressive that it wound up earning him Horse of the Year honors at the Spa despite the fact that it was his lone local start that season. As impressive as the Bolt The Duer mile was, his record didn’t last long as in the following installment of the Gerrity, the track record fell again. Dancin Yankee had the fans on the fence to view history as he went coast-to-coast in 1:48.4, a time just a fifth of a second faster than the record set just a year previous in the Gerrity. Dancin Yankee’s mark still stands as the track record.
The Gerrity started in 2009 and was raced as a three-week long series. That changed in ’13 when the series became an individual free-for-all pace which resulted in the aforementioned track record performances in the subsequent two years. On some occasions, there has been a big favorite in the Gerrity while in others the race has appeared wide open on paper. The 2022 version of the Gerrity seemed to be the latter as the well-balanced race had no real clear cut favorite. Linedrive Hanover wound up as the public’s 3-2 betting favorite on Saturday night as he looked to overcome post position seven, a daunting task for a horse racing against such top-flight competition as he faced in the Gerrity. Hall of Famer Brian Sears piloted Linedrive Hanover and rolled him up on the outside almost immediately as to not have to deal with too much traffic trouble late in the race. In the meantime, the race’s morning line favorite Workin Ona Mystery powered out from his inside post to cut the mile. Tim Tetrick piloted Workin Ona Mystery for North America’s leading trainer Ron Burke who had two entries in this year’s Gerrity.
This Is The Plan drew post two on Saturday night in an attempt to do what no horse has ever done in the thirteen year history of the Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial and that is to repeat as champ. This Is The Plan prevailed in last year’s Gerrity for Burke and reinsman Yannick Gingras who again sat behind him on Saturday as they looked to go back-to-back in the track’s biggest race of the season. As Workin Ona Mystery guided the way on the front-end, This Is The Plan sat the pocket behind his stablemate. Linedrive Hanover wound up with the toughest trip of them all as he fanned three-wide down the backstretch approaching the three-quarter pole. The favorite gained ground around the final turn and as they approached the head of the stretch, the race appeared just as wide open as it did on paper previous to the gate springing at the start.
While Linedrive Hanover and Workin Ona Mystery appeared poised to square off in the stretch, This Is The Plan pocket popped and got into gear late. All the while, Tattoo Artist, the bettors’ second choice in the wagering, came surging up the inside with Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey at the controls. Those four all appeared to have a chance late in the game but it was the fresh legs of Tattoo Artist which would serve him best. The Chris Ryder-trained Tattoo Artist motored up the passing lane and surged past his rivals to score the victory in 1:50.1. The final clocking marked the fastest time for any horse in the 2022 campaign at Saratoga thus far, a time that more likely than not will stand throughout the season (although not for sure!) Tattoo Artist paid $7.30 to win as the race’s second choice. Workin Ona Mystery finished a strong second and completed a $24.20 exacta while Linedrive Hanover’s trip got the best of him and he had to settle for a strong third. The triple in the quarter million dollar Gerrity returned $92.00.
An interesting little trend within the Gerrity continued on Saturday as the 13th installment of the Memorial Pace saw its thirteenth different driver and thirteenth different trainer prevail in the race. Wally Hennessey may have the highest win percentage of any driver in the history of the track and the veteran added his name to the illustrious list of reinsmen to pilot winners in the Gerrity. Hennessey adds his name to a list that includes Ray Schnittker, Brett Miller, Dan Cappello Jr, Dan Noble, Mark Macdonald, Tyler Buter, Jason Bartlett, Montrell Teague, Jordan Stratton, Joe Bongiorno, Brian Sears and Yannick Gingras. Chris Ryder becomes the thirteenth trainer joining conditioners Schnittker, Lou Pena, Josh Green, Tony O’Sullivan, Peter Foley, Amber Buter, Jeff Bamond Jr, Clyde Francis, Pete Tritton, Jenn Bongiorno, Casie Coleman and Ron Burke as Gerrity-winning trainers. Tattoo Artist’s win time of 1:50.1 was the fastest in the Gerrity since the ’18 installment when Evenin Of Pleasure scored in 1:49.2. On hand to make the presentation to Tattoo Artist in the winner’s circle on Saturday was the late Joe Gerrity’s daughter Cindy Holland and her husband Ron. The evening featured over a half million dollars in purses, the fastest mile of the season and a buzz in the crowd that was palpable, a formula that made for a great night of harness racing action at the Spa.
Live racing takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening throughout the summertime with first post time each night set for 6:45pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!