Truth And Liberty doesn’t fit the regular criteria for a mare that would thrive at Saratoga Casino Hotel. After all, the distaffer, who is trained by Monticello-based conditioner Bob Lounsbury, simply doesn’t have much early speed. She’s what’s known as a grinder. And while grinders can often put together some really impressive miles from time-to-time, it is rare that one rattles off a significant hot streak at the Spa- especially while squaring off against top flight competition. Truth And Liberty has proven to be an exception to that very unofficial rule as the five year old mare has not only put together another sensational season but she seems to be getting better as it gets later in the year.
After a nondescript three year old campaign in 2015, Truth And Liberty was acquired by veteran trainer Jody Reidel midway through last year. The mare had gotten pretty sharp while racing in overnight races in the Delaware circuit before Reidel’s acquisition. Reidel only had Truth And Liberty for a few months before the distaffer was purchased and moved into the Bob Lounsbury stable. Lounsbury may be a bit of an unknown to fans of Saratoga harness but he is certainly no rookie. Lounsbury has been training horses for three decades and the ex-marine has really seen the wins pile up in the past few years. The veteran conditioner won the training title at Monticello Raceway in both 2014 and 2015, the latter being his career best campaign. In ’15, Lounsbury finished with an eye-popping and nearly unheard of training percentage of .525, winning 207 races in 523 starts. In those seasons, Lounsbury teamed up with and gave a lot of credit to driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. Aldrich, who won the Saratoga driving title in ’15, was the Monticello driving champ in ’14 and ’15 as well. It’s no coincidence that he dominated the Monti driver standings in the years in which Lounsbury won his training titles. The pair has simply been a dynamic duo for several seasons now.
While the great majority of Lounsbury’s starts take place at his home track of Monticello, Truth And Liberty won five times in 2016 after Lounsbury took over the training duties and none of the victories came at Monti. Truth And Liberty recorded her first ever win in the Saratoga Fillies and Mares Open in October, upsetting at odds of 15-1 with who else but Bruce Aldrich in the sulky. The up-and-coming star made 42 starts in ’16 tallying eleven wins to go with six seconds and six thirds en route to just shy of $110,000 in earnings. Truth And Liberty was so good in her breakout four year old campaign that it would seemingly make repeating those accomplishments in ’17 very unlikely. Think again.
Truth And Liberty had raced just once at Saratoga this year before making her triumphant return on October 6th. Following a very rare wire-to-wire win for the normally strong-closing mare, it was back to the Open the subsequent week. What followed was typical Truth And Liberty. The mare ground out a first-over win in 1:53.2 for Aldrich who seems to fit the star pacer like a glove. She sought a hat trick the following week while again competing in the Open though a break around the final turn ended her modest win streak. It didn’t take Truth And Liberty long to have her winner’s circle picture taken again as she once again took to the first over path to record another gutsy local victory. On Friday night, Truth And Liberty was the public’s 4-5 betting favorite in the $19,500 Fillies and Mares Open at the Spa after a third place finish last week. Aldrich wasted little time moving the Lounsbury stable star to the outside and while coming from last, once again wound up first over. Her tenacity shining bright once again on a bitter cold November evening in the Spa City, Truth And Liberty prevailed for the fourth time in her six starts since returning to town in October as she stopped the timer in 1:54.3 after completing the last-to-first move.
Following her Friday night score, Truth And Liberty has now matched her win total and has surpassed her money earnings from the sensational ’16 campaign she enjoyed, doing it in nine less starts. The five year old has become a rare mare to display dominance in the Saratoga Fillies and Mares Open, even if that dominance has only spanned the last month or so. When asked last year about the method of driving his horses that he prefers, Lounsbury said “it’s a two-minute race. You’ve got two minutes to be on the front. Don’t take your time, let’s start right now. You’re either leaving the gate and heading to the front or as soon as they settle, I want you heading towards the front. I don’t want you second over. I want you first over, coming.” Well, Aldrich has certainly heeded those words when piloting Truth And Liberty who in her four local wins in the past six weeks has done it once on the front-end and three times while first over. As has been the trend in the past few years, there has been no dominant mare at Saratoga over the course of this season which could open the door for Truth And Liberty to make a run at Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year at the Spa. Whether her season ends with a trophy or not, what Truth And Liberty has accomplished in a 2017 campaign in which she has done, if not the impossible, certainly the unlikely, has been truly impressive. The five year old has now earned over $220,000 behind 22 wins in the past two years and even this late in the season, may be as sharp now as she’s ever been. One thing is for certain, with four wins in her last six local starts, the top flight ladies at the Spa are having a hard time handling the Truth.
Live racing takes place on Thursday and Sunday afternoons this week with matinees starting at 12:15pm while evening racing starts at 6:45pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!