Every year, in conjunction with the start of the thoroughbred meet across the street, the live racing schedule at Saratoga Casino Hotel moves to five nights a week. The summer racing extravaganza week kicks off with the Gerrity this Saturday night. The 2013 edition of the Gerrity was the first to be held as a one race Invitational after being contested as a series in previous years. Bolt The Duer wound up earning Horse of the Year honors at Saratoga in ’13 despite just having raced here one time as he put in a track and world record performance in the Gerrity. That’s how incredible the display was on that August night when he dazzled the packed house by blowing away the previous record, stopping the timer in 1:49!! Amazingly, his record didn’t stand for long as the following year in the Gerrity, Dancin Yankee bested that mark by a tick of the clock. Dancin Yankee, who finished second in the Gerrity Final in 2012, scored a wire-to-wire win in 1:48.4 to delight of the fans who crowded the fence to watch the magical effort.
While history has been made in some incredible Gerritys in seasons past, the 2016 installment of the race has a chance to be really special. For the first time, a national Horse of the Year has been nominated for the Gerrity by his connections. Racing phenom Wiggle It Jiggleit was voted top horse of ’15 after a magical campaign as a three year old in which he won 22 times in 26 tries and earned more than $2.1 million. Wiggle It Jiggleit battled the top horses in North America not only last year but again in ’16 when he has taken on the all comers in what has been a sensational follow-up to his award winning season. On Saturday night, Wiggle It Jiggleit raced in the $471,800 Haughton Memorial Final at the Meadowlands. Drawing post position ten in a 1 1/8 mile race made it awfully tough on the standout pacer who just in the last three weeks has competed for purses of just shy of a combined $1.25 million. The superstar finished third after sitting a pocket trip to the winner. Having raced hard in for four consecutive weeks, perhaps Wiggle It Jiggleit’s connections will decide to give him a rest but their plan has been to come to Saratoga for the Gerrity this weekend. We won’t know until he is or isn’t entered into the box on Wednesday morning but here’s hoping that we will have our first national Horse of the Year appearance since 2001 winner Bunny Lake competed at the Spa.
Should Wiggle It Jiggleit come to town this weekend for the Gerrity, there is no doubt he would be the race’s big favorite. There is one particular horse, though, that could certainly prevent the defending Horse of the Year from having a walk in the park in Saturday’s $260,000 Gerrity. Bit Of A Legend N is enjoying a monster year in his first season racing in the US. The seven year old New Zealand invader swept the Levy Series at Yonkers. The versatile pacing star drew post eight in one of the Levy legs and was eighth at the top of the stretch before swooping the entire group to prevail. The following week, it was time to square off with Wiggle It Jiggleit. Not only did Bit Of A Legend N compete with harness racing’s biggest star, he tied him! The two superstars finished in a dead heat for win in 1:51.2 in the last leg of the Levy leading up to the Final. Bit Of A Legend N went on to win the $609,000 Final in a career best 1:51 to go six-for six in Levy competition and stamp himself as one of North America’s top pacers in 2016. While we are still a bit uncertain whether or not we’ll see Wiggle It Jiggleit on Saturday night, Bit Of A Legend N is sure to be here as his connections have been pointing him towards the Gerrity for the last few months. Bit Of A Legend N will either be the one to beat in the Gerrity if Wiggle It doesn’t come to town or will serve as the major danger to the champ in what could amount to a memorable showdown between the pacing stalwarts.
There are several more standouts among the 21 horses nominated for the Gerrity. P H Supercam is set to defend his title as the winner of the ’15 installment of the Gerrity will return to the Spa to take part in the $260,000 Pace. The nine year old P H Supercam has amassed more than $135,000 this season after winning on Saturday night in 1:51.2 at Yonkers and will try to become the first horse to be a two-time Gerrity winner. All Bets Off is one of several standouts out of the country’s top stable. Trainer Ron Burke has put up incredible numbers in the past few years and he will send one of his top trainees to town on Saturday night. All Bets Off was a New York Sire Stakes star in 2014 as a three year old winning the Stakes Final and piling up more than $900,000 in earnings. All Bets Off has continued to take on North America’s best in the subsequent years and now sits just shy of the $2 million mark in career bankroll. Doctor Butch and Sunfire Blue Chip who finished one-two in the Yonkers Open on Saturday night in a mile paced in 1:50.2 are both scheduled to be on hand as well. Obviously, the main attraction on Saturday night would/will be Wiggle It Jiggle It should he come to town but whether or not the superstar makes his Spa debut, the Gerrity is sure to be the must see event of the summer at the raceway. In addition to the richest race of the year at the Spa, there will be NY Sire Stakes action for three year old pacing colts and all three weekly Opens will be contested that night as well, each going for a purse of $25,000. It’s a night of racing you won’t want to miss!
It will certainly be a party-like environment on Saturday evening as there is the annual t-shirt giveaway in conjunction with the Gerrity Pace. With the purchase of a live racing program, fans will receive a coupon for their complementary t-shirt while supplies last. There will be 75 cent hot dogs and sodas all night long in honor of our 75th anniversary of racing. In addition, there will be free Stewart’s ice cream cones to the first 500 people starting at 6:30pm and a 5% winners bonus on SaratogaBets on the entire Saratoga Harness card. All that and more…and hopefully an appearance by the defending National Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit as the eighth annual Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace takes place this Saturday night, July 23rd.
The live racing schedule this week includes a Thursday card starting at 4pm and racing on Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 7:05pm as nightly post time has been pushed back a bit for the remainder of the summer. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!