For the better part of the last several years, the driving force among Open trotters at Saratoga Casino Hotel has been Cash Me Out. While the Kyle Spagnola trainee has competed at several tracks throughout the northeast over the course of his nearly decade long career, Saratoga has always been home. Now at the age of ten, Cash Me Out is still facing the top trotters the Spa has to offer and continues to add to his career win total. Cash Me Out has scored victories in two of the last three installments of the local feature for high-steppers and has five Open wins to his credit in 2021 all told. His lead among local trotters has shrunk in recent weeks though as there is a new force emerging at the Spa.
Exarch was purchased last summer by the Fortune Valley Stable of Ballston Spa, NY after being put up for sale online by his previous owner. The trotter was a standout in his three year old season back in 2018 when he earned almost $123,000. He moved to New York the following year and fared only somewhat well in the following two years, winning six races and finishing second four times over the two year old span. Within that time period though was the trotter’s Saratoga debut in August of ’20 and while he didn’t win a race at the Spa last year, he did record three victories for his new connections while competing at Monticello and Yonkers Raceways. This season didn’t start out the strongest for Exarch but he did put together a solid stretch when competing in the NAADA, a series for amateur drivers contested at both Monticello and Yonkers. It was there where the six year old rediscovered the winning way and rattled off a pair of victories this spring while under the guidance of trainer Sean Campbell.
Towards the middle of May, Exarch changed hands and moved to the stable of conditioner John Gerow. The speedy trotter finished second in his first start for Gerow before scoring a victory in the $15,000 NAADA Final in late May. From there, it was back to Saratoga for Exarch who though he had done well out of town had not thrived locally and now had to race against the top trotters that the Spa had to offer. Once the calendar turned to June, though, the trotter who had earnings of just over $200,000 in his career went on a tear.
Assigned the inside post in the June 7th installment of the local Open Trot, Exarch attempted a coast-to-coast effort with leading reinsman Jimmy Devaux at the controls. The 9-1 shot came up second-best in that one in what was by far his best race in his brief time at the Spa. The following week, Devaux again blasted Exarch off the gate and powered him up to the lead in a 27.1 first quarter before yielding to sit the pocket. The veteran trotter recorded his first career local Open victory when he powered past the leader in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:56.4. Exarch proved that the win was no fluke when he came back the following week and flashed speed to overcome his assigned outside post. The Gerow trainee dug in and fended off the late challenge from local superstar Cash Me Out before hanging on to win by a neck in a seasonal best 1:56.1.
Exarch stayed sharp after winning back-to-back Opens despite being assigned outside posts. Spotting the leader over fifteen lengths while starting from post eight, the rising star still managed to finish third to Cash Me Out while trotting in 1:55.4 in his first start off the consecutive Open victories. Following another strong outing in which he was the runner-up to Cash Me Out, Exarch drew inside his new rival last Tuesday afternoon when had their “rubber match” following a month in which each of the two current top trotters at the Spa won the feature twice. Exarch returned to his early speed tactics on Tuesday and after moving quickly in a 27.3 first quarter got a soft middle-half breather before stepping on the gas and powering away to win by two lengths in 1:56. It was the third Open Trot win in the last five starts for Exarch who has now hit the board in six consecutive installments of the trotting feature. Cash Me Out endured a difficult journey on Tuesday but still managed a third place finish to continue his own recent hot streak. Exarch, a $20,600 purchase last year, has now earned over $30,000 in his last six starts in which he has established himself as a formidable Open trotter at the Spa. He will be back at it this Tuesday when he is set to take on another super speedy trotter in Reign Of Honor who recorded a win in his only try in the local Open.
The same connections that have thrived of late with Exarch acquired a new filly in recent weeks that they debuted on Wednesday. The Fortune Valley Stable privately purchased three year old filly Roll With Kay who made her debut out of the Gerow barn on the matinee card. Wally Hennessey piloted the filly that went postward as the public’s 7-5 betting favorite in a race for maiden distaffers. Hall of Famer Hennessey left with the filly who was making just her ninth career start and sat second before evacuating the pocket just past the half mile pole. Roll With Kay powered past the race’s front-runner and rolled to a three and a half length victory in a career-best 1:56.2 to pay immediate dividends for her new connections who have thrived at the Spa in recent weeks led by top trotter Exarch and now supported by Roll With Kay who will have to overcome post eight on Tuesday afternoon if she is to repeat. The Fortune Valley Stable and Gerow had one more win left in them for the week as on Saturday night Chaleurs Ad went coast-to-coast in just his second start since they claimed him. The pacer completed the hat trick for his connections for the week and was then claimed from them out of the race. What a week for the Fortune Valley Stable and their new trainer John Gerow as they went three-for-three including the feature score from their new stable star Exarch.
Live racing takes place on Monday and Tuesday afternoons starting at Noon and on Saturday evenings for the summertime with first post time set for 6:45pm. Matinees feature 80 cent hot dogs and sodas in honor of our 80th year of racing. This Saturday night, the 12th annual Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace takes place after the race took a year off. The purse for the star pacers who will take part is $150,000. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!