It is that time of year. It’s the time when New York Sire Stakes action is in full swing and the NY-bred two and three year olds travel the state in pursuit of their share of the large purses and points towards the September Night of Champions. While the Sire Stakes traditionally kicks off in late May, the first time stakes action came to Saratoga Casino Hotel in 2016 was back in early June when three year old filly pacers were featured. Later that week, two year old pacing colts took center stage at the Spa and we got a look at the state’s top up-and-coming freshmen.
The big night for the summer was Gerrity night and on July 23rd, the $260,000 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace was not the only display of out-of-town talent to converge on the Spa. Three year old pacing colts squared off in two divisions of the $90,000 (give or take a few hundred) Sire Stakes on Gerrity night and many of the northeast’s top drivers and trainers came to town to compete. Jim Morrill Jr. has been the king of the Sire Stakes in the last decade and the talented reinsman always thrives when he comes to the Spa to compete. On Gerrity night, Morrill won both Sire Stakes races with the sophomore colts as he piloted Ideal Son to a mild upset win in 1:54.4 and Roll With Joe to victory in a dazzling 1:51.4. Ideal Son took on a 1-5 favorite in his division and dispatched him en route to his first Sire Stakes score. Missile J is having the best year of all the three year old pacing colts and was subsequently bet down to 1-5 in his Spa debut with superstar driver Tim Tetrick in the bike. The journey for Missile J proved to be too tough and Ideal Son turned him away before scoring with relative ease. The Linda Toscano-trained Missile J has earned more than $300,000 already this year and there is no doubt that the star pacer will rebound and maintain his status as perhaps the three year old to beat.
Last week, it was the two year old pacing fillies that were in town to compete in NY Sire Stakes action. Linda Toscano, one of the top stakes trainers of the last several years in New York State, brought a host of freshman fillies to town. There were three divisions for the lady pacers that went for purses of $54,500 and $55,500 and all three featured a Toscano trainee that was undefeated. Robin J, Planet Rock and World Apart all came to town two-for-two and among them already had five Sire Stakes victories. Planet Rock stayed undefeated as she jogged on the engine for Tetrick on Wednesday while Robin J was a beaten favorite and had to settle for third after a tough first over journey on the winner Artrageous who was piloted by, who else, but Jim Morrill Jr. On paper, World Apart was maybe the most impressive of the Toscano super trio coming into her Wednesday tilt. World Apart was her race’s 1-5 betting favorite despite the fact that rival Roaring To Go came to town with a super-impressive resume of her own. World Apart wound up getting shuffled to last approaching the half while Roaring To Go got the jump on her. Those two fillies put in a magical final quarter and what resulted wasn’t only a mild upset but was a track record. Roaring To Go bested World Apart by a length and did so in 1:54 to become the fastest freshman filly in the 75 year history of harness racing at Saratoga. Brett Miller sat behind the filly who set the new track mark while World Apart wasn’t far behind. It could be a special summer and fall in the two year old filly division of the NY Sire Stakes as the group led by the Toscano trio and new track record holder Roaring To Go will have several more battles before the September Stakes Final.
Sire Stakes action returns to the Spa this Tuesday night as the top state-bred freshman trotting colts will square off. Toscano will once again send a big favorite to town as Walder will make his second lifetime start. Tim Tetrick guided Walder to a dazzling victory in 1:55.4 at Vernon Downs in his stakes debut which featured a sub-56 second final half. This race came after Walder won two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, one of which was highlighted by a final quarter of 26.3, an unheard of panel for a two year old trotter. While Walder will no doubt be the favorite in his division of the $53,500 Sire Stakes on Tuesday, there are some other highsteppers that look very impressive who will come to the Spa for the first time. The regular stakes sulky stars such as Tetrick, Morrill, Andy Miller and Jeff Gregory will be in town to compete on Tuesday and they will be joined by a Hall of Famer making a rare appearance at the Spa. John Campbell has only come to town a few times in the past several decades but the driver that has piled up well over 10,000 career victories and was the youngest driver to ever be inducted into the National Hall of Fame will be in town to pilot ten times on the Tuesday card. The twelve race Tuesday program is comprised solely of two year old trotting colts taking part in the NY Sire Stakes. The three divisions of the “big time” Sire Stakes are joined by nine Excelsior Series races at both levels A and B. We will see on Tuesday who the newest budding trotting stars are as the New York Sire Stakes competitors come to town for their fifth installment of the summer. Three year old trotting colts are featured on Tuesday August 9th while three year old filly trotters will compete at the Spa on Friday August 19th. Freshman filly pacers will wrap up the Sire Stakes season at the Saratoga on Wednesday the 24th. It’s always an exciting time of year at the track to see what NY-breds will become the next pacing and trotting stars so come out to the track and see those future stars and the host of superstars who will be in town to drive them. Live racing takes place every Tuesday through Saturday at Saratoga throughout the month of August with first post time each night of 7:05pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!