Kele Kele & Wally Hennessey
A pair of New York Sire Stakes races for three year old pacing fillies served as features on the Friday night card at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Two fields of five were featured and each went for a purse of $82,500. John Mc Dermott’s Kele Kele (So Surreal) is in the midst of a strong sophomore season that saw her hit the board in each of her ten starts on the year heading into Friday’s try.
Wally Hennessey catch-drove Kele Kele and powered the filly out to the early lead. After favorable fractions in lap one, Kele Kele had plenty in reserve for the final half and prevailed by almost two lengths in 1:53.3. The Mc Dermott trainee paid $6.10 to win in what was her third victory of the season. Kele Kele is owned by Garofalo, Hurrikane Racing LLC and Jonathan Klee Racing.
The other $82,500 division of the NY Sire Stakes also saw a wire-to-wire winner as Just Divine (Huntsville) recorded her first victory of her 2022 campaign. The runner-up in the Sire Stakes Final as a two year old last season, the Ron Burke-trained Just Divine drew the rail on Friday night with Jordan Stratton at the controls.
The sophomore enjoyed comfortable fractions on the lead while traveling unopposed through a half in 58.3. From there, Just Divine had to hold off pocket-sitting favorite Valar Dohaeris (Mark Macdonald) and did so to secure her first score of the season, stopping the timer in 1:53.4. Just Divine paid $5.40 to win as her race’s second choice in the wagering.
Valar Dohaeris finished a strong second to lengthen her “on the board” streak as she has now finished in the top three in all seven starts in ’22. Just Divine is owned in partnership by Donovan, Sbrocco, Henderson and Purnell&Libby.
Photo: Melissa Simser
Test Of Faith & Dave Miller
Wednesday marked the start of the New York Sire Stakes season at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Three year old pacing fillies were featured on what was a 15-race matinee card. The back-half of the program contained the stakes fillies highlighted by three divisions that each went for a purse of $50,400. Test Of Faith (Art Major-Cannae Cammie- Cam’s Card Shark) was last year’s Sire Stakes champion for two year old fillies and made her 2021 debut on Wednesday afternoon. Dave Miller was in town to pilot the Brett Pelling trainee who was one of the top fillies in North America last season. Test Of Faith resumed her winning ways as Miller wasted little time putting the 1-9 favorite on the front-end and the superstar filly took it from there. Test Of Faith scored a decisive win on Wednesday to kick-off her sophomore campaign in the same fashion as her freshman season wrapped up. The victory for Test Of Faith that came in 1:52.1 was just a fifth of a second off the all-time track record for three year old pacing fillies at Saratoga and she appeared to do it with ease. Test Of Faith, who earned exactly a half million dollars last season winning eight times in nine starts, is poised for another sensational season and if Wednesday’s ’21 was any indication, she will be awfully tough to beat for her rivals in the New York Sire Stakes. Test Of Faith is owned by Melvin Segal, Eddie Gran and the Kentuckiana Racing Stable.
While Test Of Faith is the defending Sire Stakes champion among the returning fillies, Heart Of Mine (Roll With Joe-Acquavella- Western Ideal) was the runner-up in last year’s NYSS Final. Scott Zeron piloted the Linda Toscano-trained filly on Wednesday afternoon and sat the pocket with Heart Of Mine who came on in the final stride to prevail in 1:54.3 in her $50,400 division. The super sophomore is now four-for-four in the win column in the 2021 season after recording the victory in her first Sire Stakes start of the year. Heart Of Mine is owned by Fred Wallace, Bay’s Stable, Radio Racing Stable and Camelot Stable.
The Jessica Okusko-trained Purameri (American Ideal-J K Pure Pearl- Bettor’s Delight) sprung the upset for the day as the sophomore filly parlayed a pocket ride to victory with Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey at the controls. Purameri flew up the inside in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:56.2 while dismissed at odds of 13-1. Purameri, who is owned by the Purple Haze Stables of Fairport, NY, gave Hennessey one of his five winners on the Wednesday card.
Live racing resumes on Monday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post set for Noon.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino