For horse owners, there is no better feeling than coming to the track and getting your picture taken in the winner’s circle. Oftentimes, when conditions are normal, an owner will bring some family or friends to the track, especially on a day when they think their horse or horses have a good chance of winning. Upon returning from the three-month shutdown in June, there were no fans allowed at racetracks in New York State. Several weeks after, there was an edict from the Governor that allowed owners to come to the track on days they had horses racing. It was anything but back to normal but for the people who are really the lifeblood of the sport, at least they could be there to watch their investments/pets from up close and potentially to enjoy the successes from close up should they be fortunate enough to win. It obviously was a different feel as the owners couldn’t bring those close to them to enjoy the experience but at least they could attend once they pre-registered for a particular day and followed the required list of protocols.
After the page turned on the summer racing calendar, which consisted of three days (and nights) of action throughout the summer months, the fall schedule began last week at Saratoga Casino Hotel. With the reduction in race dates forced by the diminished cash flow into the purse account, there will be two days of racing per week for the remainder of the campaign, a season that hopefully will take us through around Thanksgiving time. It isn’t ideal for anyone, especially horse owners, but it’s something and for that they are grateful. Some owners took advantage of the pleasant weather last week and came out to the track for the Monday and Tuesday matinees. On Tuesday, two longtime standardbred owners who were in attendance had the pleasure of visiting the winner’s circle twice each. Both veteran owners have been in the business for decades and have exhibited great love the sport. But that’s where their similarities end.
Fred Scheigert made his first foray into horse owning back in the late 90’s and he, as pretty much all owners have, has gone through lots of ups and downs in the business. Scheigert, who has had his horses with trainer Amanda Kelley for the last few years, owns his own farm which houses the members of medium-size stable. The Saratoga resident Scheigert is no stranger to purchasing expensive horses. He will occasionally claim a horse but more often than not, his acquisitions come via private purchase. With some top-flight horses to his credit over the years, Scheigert has won some Opens here and there but has a wide variety of horses that span the classes. On Monday, Scheigert had a win and a second leading into a busy Tuesday afternoon for Kelley who had seven horses racing on the matinee. Fred was in attendance as his Barynya A, an occasional participant in local Opens over the past two seasons, sprung a bit of an upset in her second start since dropping in company. Mark Beckwith sat behind Barynya A as she parlayed her pocket trip to victory on Tuesday. Donned in the required mask, Scheigert made his way to the winner’s circle to do what he loves. He got his picture taken after recording a victory with one of his prized possessions, his horses. The veteran Barynya A moved her career earnings to just shy of $475,000 with the Tuesday score. That trip to victory lane wasn’t the only one that Scheigert would make on the afternoon as his Jumping Jillybean dropped in company to participate in the afternoon’s finale. Leading driver Billy Dobson got the call behind the four year old Jumping Jillybean, who was winless in 2020 after enjoying an eight-win campaign last season including going two-for-two after coming to Saratoga. Dobson was aggressive on Tuesday with the class-dropper who made the lead and didn’t look back before scoring in 1:57.3. Scheigert made his second trek to the winner’s circle on the day to complete a solid, albeit abbreviated, week at the Spa.
Scheigert wasn’t the only longtime owner in attendance on Tuesday that got to make a pair of journeys to the winner’s circle. Francis Morse, of Schuylerville, has owned horses for decades. A true lover of the sport of harness racing, his methods and style of owning are much different than those of Scheigert. Morse is a breeder, often taking the mares that he raced and turning them into broodmares at the conclusion of their career. Morse’s longtime trainer is Linda Flynn whose stable is usually comprised solely of Morse’s horses. On Tuesday, Morse had Amazing Amanda and Olde Broadside racing, two horses whom he bred. Morse owned the mothers of Amazing Amanda and Olde Broadside and raced them at Saratoga for several years. Camboree and Real Royale were both talented mares in their own right and Morse found them suitable to breed to. Amazing Amanda, whose full brother Major Camby was also bred by Morse and has been a Spa regular for several years, sprung her third upset of the season on Tuesday afternoon when she emerged victorious at odds of 12-1 with Jay Randall in the sulky. The six year old Flynn trainee has won three times since the return from the pandemic shutdown and amply rewarded any of her backers in the betting as she was dismissed at odds of 8-1, 17-1 and 12-1 in those three victories. Morse didn’t have to wait long to return to the winner’s circle following Amazing Amanda’s race eight score on Tuesday as the ninth race on the card went the way of his Olde Broadside. Another six year old pacer, Olde Broadside drew the rail as he looked to record his second win in his last three starts. He did just that when reinsman Larry Stalbaum moved him first-over on the race’s favorite. Olde Broadside powered right by before drawing away to win by open lengths in a seasonal-best 1:55.4. It hasn’t been the strongest 2020 campaign for Olde Broadside though his career numbers remain impressive. Tuesday’s win was the 20th in 93 lifetime starts for yet another in the long history of Morse’s homebred pacers who have done solid work at the Spa. For longtime owners Fred Scheigert and Francis Morse, the only thing better than finally being able to come to the track to watch their horses race, something that they dearly love, is getting their picture taken not once but twice each on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon at the Spa. And for owners, everyone recognizes that it has been and continues to be a tough road but those that have had the ability to persevere are beginning to do what they enjoy, come to the races to watch their horses compete and ultimately make a trip or trips to victory lane.
Live racing takes place every week on Monday and Tuesday afternoon this fall with first post time set for 12 Noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!