Winning is nothing new to Larry Stalbaum. The veteran horseman has almost 6,100 wins as a driver and has, officially, more than 1,200 as a trainer in his career. That number though would actually be much higher in reality as he shared a barn with his wife for over a decade and thus didn’t record an official start as a trainer from 2005-2017. Stalbaum did much of his damage in his native Michigan before moving east in ’05 and becoming a stronghold on the East Coast. Stalbaum has driven, and trained, at several different tracks in the Northeast. In fact, the 57 year old often travels track to track throughout the year and even within an individual week. These days, Stalbaum is a regular at Saratoga Casino Hotel since setting up shop here two years ago and while the Spa is currently home base and the main track for Stalbaum, you can see some of his trainees competing at other tracks as well, such as Yonkers and Pocono Downs.
Stalbaum’s stable came into last week’s action fresh off a training double on Wednesday June 9th. He started the week seventh in the driver standings and fourth among local conditioners in 2021 after enjoying a bit of a hot streak. On Monday afternoon, Stalbaum had just one of his trainees in to go on a trotter-filled matinee card. Mr Cool Seaeyre N has been an occasional Open participant in past seasons but didn’t get off to the strongest of starts to his season. After a bout of terrible post position draws, Mr Cool Seaeyre N drew post three on Monday afternoon and Stalbaum wasted very little time moving him to the lead. The nine year old trotter moved his career earnings close to the $300,000 mark as he went coast-to-coast to kick off what would be an incredible week at the Spa for the lifelong horseman.
For the last few seasons, Tuesday afternoons have featured the Open Pace at Saratoga in which Stalbaum stable star Crockets Cullen N has been the dominant force. The winningest Open horse at the Spa over the course of the last three years, Crockets Cullen N is again in the midst of a solid campaign here in ’21. Between the Open Pace not being carded every week and Crockets Cullen N having a bit of a down season, at least by his recent standards, we haven’t seen the superstar pacer pile up the victories at the same rate thus far this year. There was no Open Pace at the Spa last Tuesday and thus Crockets Cullen N took to the road to compete out of town. That didn’t mean that Stalbaum wouldn’t have success on Tuesday afternoon though. In fact, the matinee produced what would be the biggest day of the meet thus far for the Michigan native.
Veteran pacer Shady City has had an adventurous season and that adventure continued on Tuesday. After getting claimed and claimed back by Stalbaum multiple times in April, Shady City has taken a unique path to success of late. In fact, his path has been overland as the eleven year old has been racing parked the mile on nearly a weekly basis. Is it his owner/trainer/driver Stalbaum committing some pilot errors? No. In fact, Stalbaum has been getting Shady City parked on purpose in recent weeks as the half millionaire pacer has been drawing outside posts and is a horse who is very different than most. Stalbaum has to stay busy in the bike nearly every step of the way, imploring the pacer to continue on. At about five points during the mile, Shady City looks like he has had enough. At least that’s what we thought the first couple of times he raced this way. Instead, the gutsy veteran thrives on the outside and even though he drops back a bit at times, continues to grind and grind before always shifting gears again in the stretch. This method has yielded back-to-back wins now for Shady City after he took the outside path to the winner’s circle once again to kick off the Tuesday card. Stalbaum wound up going three-for-three with his trainees that afternoon as his Itsonlyrocknroll A took a more conventional path to victory and American Zest A lit up the teletimer with a sparkling score.
Itsonlyrocknroll A went wire-to-wire in a $15,000 claimer to give Stalbaum his second winner of the day. The Australian invader won for the second time of the season before getting claimed out of the race. Itsonlyrocknroll A became the third Stalbaum trainee to be claimed in recent months. While the first two he claimed back, it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll do that this week with Itsonlyrocknroll A who is again entered into a $15,000 claimer. Stalbaum’s Tuesday hat trick was completed when his American Zest A took advantage of fast fractions in his try in the $11,250 feature for pacers and scored in a sizzling 1:52.2 mile. And while the Tuesday triple for Stalbaum marked the biggest day of the year for his barn, he wouldn’t have to wait long to repeat the feat.
On Wednesday’s matinee, Stalbaum had four mares in to go. At least two of the ladies looked to have a big chance with another facing a big favorite but seemingly with a shot if things went her way. The other distaffer, Miss Irish Rose A, was a big longshot while competing in the $14,000 Fillies and Mares Open. When the day was done, it was Miss Irish Rose A who would be the only Stalbaum trainee to suffer a defeat as his surging stable won three more times. Pacing mares Gina Grace N, Lyons Girlhanover and trotter Thanks For Leaving all secured victories. Gina Grace N was yet another one of Stalbaum’s horses to be claimed in recent weeks but that did nothing to spoil what was an incredible week for the red-hot trainer/driver. After all, of the eight horses Larry Stalbaum raced this week at the Spa, seven of them make trips to the winner’s circle to aid in his surge in the standings. To make things even better, the owner of six of the seven winners for Stalbaum last week is Larry Stalbaum. And to put a bow on the special week, Larry’s 17 year old son Winter drove in his first ever qualifier on Friday at Northville Downs in Michigan when he piloted the aptly named Story Book to victory in his first official time in the sulky. It was indeed a story book week for Stalbaum who had the thrill of having his son pilot for the first time and his stable pile up an incredible seven wins in eight starts at the Spa.
Live racing takes place this week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon starting at 12 Noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!