Crown & Brian Sears
Saratoga harness hosted the NYSS 2 year old trotting colts Friday night. The fastest of the four divisions was won by Crown, trained by Marcus Melander and driven to the win by Brian Sears. The maiden trotter by Chapter Seven won is first pari-mutuel start in 1:57.1
Molotov Cocktail & Brian Sears
There were three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for two year old trotting colts and geldings that took place on Monday’s matinee at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The three races, which each went for a purse of more than $46,000, were highlighted by a showdown between two trotters in one of the divisions that each came into the day undefeated. Justice (Chapter Seven-Religulous-Muscles Yankee) came into Monday’s try two-for-two for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt. The freshman faced the toughest task of his young career as he took on the Jim Campbell-trained Cool Papa Bell (Jason Bartlett) who was three-for-three heading into Monday’s tilt. Svanstedt moved Justice, who was bet down to odds of 1-9, right out to the early lead and enjoyed pretty leisurely fractions with Cool Papa Bell stalking him from the pocket throughout. Justice trotted his back half in 58 seconds and needed every tick of it to hold off Cool Papa Bell who surged in the stretch before coming up shy by a head in a mile clocked in 1:58.1. Justice moved his career earnings to over the $63,000 mark in just three lifetime starts for owners Ake Svanstedt, Torbjorn Swahn, Myfab, and Little E.
The second division of the afternoon saw the biggest upset among the Sire Stakes races on Monday. Valentine Express (Chapter Seven- Cantata- Donato Hanover) got the pocket ride behind the favored Quincy Market (Corey Callahan) in the five-horse NYSS event. Valentine Express rode the coattails of the two-time Sire Stakes winner throughout before powering past him in the stretch to record the biggest win of his young career. Coming into the race with less than $2,000 in earnings, Valentine Express earned the winner’s share of the $47,067 purse for owners Salvatore Vullo and James De Armond of New York. Valentine Express, who is trained by Jessica Okusko, scored in 1:59.4.
The final division of the day went to Molotov Cocktail (Chapter Seven-Moonlight Cocktail-Kadabra) who never had an anxious moment before stopping the timer in 1:58.3. The two year old trotter came in off an eleven length victory at Batavia which was the second win in NY Sire Stakes competition in his freshman campaign. The public’s 1-2 betting favorite on Monday coasted to a wire-to-wire victory with Brian Sears in the sulky. Molotov Cocktail is owned by Richard Gutnick and Gary Cocco of PA in partnership with Thomas Pontone of Holmdel, NJ and trained by Linda Toscano.
Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon featuring a carryover of $3,872 in the Pick Five pool starting in the first race which is set for noon.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino