Trainer Jackie Greene (formerly Rousse) has had dozens of Open winners over the course of the decade plus in which she has raced at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The veteran conditioner has had the honor of taking home awards for Pacer, Trotter, Filly and Mare Pacer and Horse of the Year on numerous occasions. In fact, the defending Horse of the Year at the Spa is a Greene trainee. Stirling Cadet had a sensational 2016 campaign.
The top flight trotter wound up taking home the awards for Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year last season. In his five year old campaign, Stirling Cadet piled up eleven wins, nine of them coming while competing in the Open Trot. He simply dominated over the course of last summer, at one point prevailing in six out of eight tries in the Open.
Unfortunately, in the final month of the ’16 season, Stirling Cadet suffered an injury that would cost him not only the final month of last year but the majority of 2017 as well. Following three qualifiers, the reigning champ of the Spa made his first start of the year on Sunday afternoon in the Open. While he wasn’t much of a factor in his return outing, it was good to have the defending Horse of the Year back on the track, more than nine months after suffering that injury. Hopefully, we will see at least a glimpse of the old Stirling Cadet in the final few months of the racing season.
Though Stirling Cadet has yet to be a factor in the Open this year, trainer Jackie Greene hasn’t been at a loss for Open victories. The conditioner, who has trained Trotter and Horse of the Year winners Prime Interest and Lorenzo Dream along with Stirling Cadet in the last decade, Greene has also done very well with top flight pacers in her time at the Spa. In 2007, Greene’s Gimmebackmybullets was the Pacer and Horse of the Year and ever since, Jackie has always had at least one top flight pacer in her barn to compete in the Open.
Jackie Green has trained a pair of Filly and Mare Pacers of the Year as well. Distaffers Golden Ace and Super Soph have been the top lady pacers at the Spa under the guidance of Greene. On Friday night, Greene’s Stylish Beachwhere was the public’s betting favorite in the $18,000 Fillies and Mares Open. With several of her top rivals from this summer, namely Little Santamonica, Godiva Seelster and So Nice, no longer competing at the Spa for a variety of reasons, Stylish Beachwhere now has an opportunity to become the next in the long line of Greene-trained distaffers who have thrived in the Friday night feature.
Stylish Beachwhere was coming off a second place finish in the previous week’s Open when she wound up tiring late as the favorite on Friday night. Driver Frank Coppola Jr. cut the up-and-comer loose approaching three quarters and after making a big brush to the lead, she faded to a fifth place finish. While it wasn’t the best performance we have seen from the Greene stable’s new top lady, Stylish Beachwhere has recorded three wins and a second in her eight local starts thus far and will likely be a force to be reckoned with among top pacing mares this fall.
Saturday night featured a pair of Greene-trained pacers with much different resumes. Artful Way was the Pacer of the Year in what was a near clean sweep of the top awards for Greene in ’16. As a four year old last season, Artful Way put together a campaign in which he earned over $115,000 by way of ten wins. Seven of the speedy pacer’s victories came in the local Open. Artful Way continues to prove that last year was no fluke as the Greene trainee is again having a sensational season.
The five year old rattled off three consecutive wins after adding lasix in August. Aided by his tremendous early speed combined with consistent final quarters, Artful Way is on pace to shatter last year’s production totals. Artful Way, who has had much of his success racing out of town this season, returned to the Spa on Saturday night after spending the last month competing at Vernon Downs and Yonkers. An owner of four wins in the local Open Pace this year, Artful Way had a daunting task ahead of him on Saturday.
He was faced with the chore of besting track record holder Dancin Yankee. A winner of the 2015 Gerrity Pace in 1:48.4, Dancin Yankee came back to the Spa a couple weeks back racing out of the track’s top stable. Dancin Yankee made his first start out of the Beckwith barn on September 23rd while coming off a month layoff.
After getting away last, the classy veteran came charging hard to finish third in a mile clocked in a dazzling 1:50 flat! On Saturday night, Dancin Yankee drew one spot inside of Artful Way and they went off as co-even money favorites in the $18,000 Open Pace. Dancin Yankee got a relatively easy lead and looked at the half like he would be very tough to beat. What followed was as an impressive of a final half as you will ever see.
Artful Way went from fifth to second with such authority that it looked like his rivals were standing still. Highlighted by a final half of 54.1, the Greene trainee motored past Dancin Yankee and his more than $1.6 million in earnings en route to an Open win in 1:51.3. It was the fifth victory in the local Open this year for Artful Way, more than any other pacer, as he broke the tie with stablemate Titus Seelster who owns four wins of his own in the Saturday feature. Artful Way, tremendous in his breakout campaign of 2016, and maybe even better here in 2017 as Greene continues to pile up the Open wins.
Artful Way wasn’t the only impressive Greene trainee to race on Saturday night. Some Attitude made his Saratoga debut two weeks ago and romped in 1:51.4. On Saturday night, the three year old Canadian invader had little difficultly repeating for Greene and reinsman Frank Coppola Jr. as the sophomore pacer cruised to a wire-to-wire win in 1:52.1. In his two local victories, Some Attitude has already displayed versatility prevailing after getting a first over journey in his debut and following it up with Saturday’s front-running score. Some Attitude might just be the next Open horse in waiting for Jackie Greene who has thrived in local Opens for better than a decade and whose stable continues to feature top flight competitors in all of the Open levels at the Spa.
Live racing takes place during the afternoon on Thursdays and Sundays with matinees starting at 12:15pm. Friday and Saturday night racing begins at 6:45pm each week. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!