Justathriller & Brett Beckwith
Justathriller (Cantab Hall) continued his terrific season on Friday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Melissa Beckwith-trained trotter made his local debut in June and it didn’t take long for the three year old to make an impact. Finding a home in the winners of two but not more than five class (with an optional claiming tag attached) this season, Justathriller has been a winning machine and on Friday was the public’s 1-5 betting favorite as he looked for his tenth win of the season and eighth since coming to the Spa.
Brett Beckwith is the regular pilot for Justathriller who raced parked in the early going before clearing the lead approaching the quarter pole. The big favorite settled in on the front-end and didn’t face a legitimate challenge until mid-stretch when rival Mass Flow (Chris Long) put in a brief burst towards him. Justathriller prevailed in 1:58 to record his eighth local victory in just over four months.
Mass Flow was the runner-up while Titan On The Rail (Mickey McGivern) closed to be third as he hit the board for the fourth consecutive week. Justathriller, who is owned by William Hartt of Carmel, ME, earned the winner’s share of the $11,700 purse in one of the co-featured races on the card for trotters.
The other co-feature also went the way of a Beckwith trainee. Echo De Meautis FR (Ganymede) made his local debut a winning one as he scored in the evening’s $11,700 finale to complete a double for the Beckwith barn and a driving triple for reinsman Brett Beckwith.
Live racing continues on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 5pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser
Just Liv Broadway & Luke Hanners
For the second consecutive Friday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel, the evening belonged to the tandem of driver Luke Hanners and trainer Jaymes McAssey. Just a week removed from an evening which saw Hanners pilot four winners, three for McAssey, the pair pulled off a near carbon copy to last Friday’s performance. McAssey scored another training hat trick on the Friday card with his trainees accounting for three of four winners on the card for the up-and-coming Hanners.
Luke Hanners, who is in his first full season in the sulky at the Spa, currently sits third among local reinsmen on the season while McAssey is also third among Saratoga conditioners in 2022. With no Open on the docket Friday evening, a pair of $11,000 races for trotters served as co-features and it was McAssey and Hanners teaming up for a front-running score in one of them as young filly Just Liv Broadway (E L Titan) went coast-to-coast to record her first victory in what was her fifth local try.
Sophomore filly Dingle recorded her second win in as many local starts when she romped for McAssey and Hanners making good at odds of 1-5 to set a new lifetime mark of 1:58.1. The red-hot pairing’s third Friday score came in one of the pacing events on the card when JK’s Dobbins (JK Endofanera) went wire-to-wire to pull off a mild upset at odds of 5-1. Hanners’ other winner on the program came while piloting the Joel Flanders-trained Takoda Blue Chip who broke his maiden in his Saratoga debut on Friday.
Live racing continues on Saturday evening with a first post time of 5pm.
Photo: Cheyanne Mandy
Dingle & Luke Hanners
Trainer Jaymes McAssey surged into third place in the trainer standings at Saratoga Casino Hotel when on Friday night, the young conditioner scored three victories. McAssey, who was named the Peerless McGrath Award winner for up-and-coming trainers in 2017, had seven horses in on a trotting-heavy card on Friday night. The conditioner wasted little time making a trip to the winner’s circle when his American Soul (American Ideal) prevailed in the evening’s first race in a rare pacing event on the card.
Luke Hanners, who piloted American Soul to victory, sat behind the Jaymes McAssey-trained Dingle who debuted out of a new barn on Friday night after just being acquired by McAssey this week. That filly had little difficulty going coast-to-coast in her first start out of her new stable to win by more than eight lengths in a mile clocked in 1:59.1.
From there Hanners and McAssey teamed up once again with trotter Out Of The Blue who pocket-pulled on the race’s favorite approaching the three-quarter pole before rolling to an upset win at odds of 8-1 and secure a hat trick for her connections. In the evening’s nightcap, it was that team again as McAssey’s Explosive Ridge went off as the 8-5 second choice in the wagering and proved up to the task when Hanners guided Explosive Ridge to the front-end and never looked back.
The veteran trotter held firm in the stretch to prevail for second time on the season and complete a grand slam for Luke Hanners and Jaymes McAssey. Hanners sits firmly in the third spot among local trainers in 2022 while McAssey has surged into fourth after his huge night on Friday.
Photo: Melissa Simser
Southeaster & Chris Long
Southeaster (RC Royalty) became the sixth different horse to win the Open Trot in the last six installments of the Friday feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel when he sprung the upset. The John Roach-trained trotter went over the $100,000 mark in career earnings last week in his first start in the local Open. On Friday night, Southeaster drew post five in the eight-horse feature and was put in gear early on by driver Chris Long. Southeaster looped the field into the first turn and cruised unopposed through a first half that went in 56.4.
The race’s favorite never posed much of a threat to the leader who clicked off three quarters in 1:26.1 and had enough in the stretch to hold off the late challenge from Gettin Messi (Shawn Gray) who finished second. The upset-minded ER Sophia (Jimmy Devaux) closed sharply to be third in the $16,000 Open. Southeaster paid $20.40 to win in the upset and led an exacta and triple that returned $122.50 and $502, respectively. The Roach trainee became the fourth trotter in as many weeks to be a first-time Open winner at the Spa. Southeaster is owned by William Miller II of Bluffton, SC.
Photo: Cheyanne Mandy
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
ER Sophia & Jimmy Devaux
On Friday night, ER Sophia (Swan For All) found herself in the Open Trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel for the just the second time in her career. The John Mongeon trainee finished fourth in her lone try in the trotting feature and headed back into the $16,000 Open on Friday evening following a close second place finish in last week’s installment of the Winners Over for trotters.
Leading driver Jimmy Devaux found some early speed from the six year old mare who was facing a bit softer of a group than usual in the Friday Open. ER Sophia enjoyed a hassle-free first lap and coasted to the half in 59.2 before cruising out to win by open lengths in 1:56.4. Released at odds of 9-2, ER Sophia recorded her sixth victory of the season but her first in an Open.
The race’s longshot Deswanslittlelorie (Leon Bailey) got the pocket ride behind the winner and ended up as the runner-up while dismissed at odds of 55-1. Theresademoninme (Shawn Gray) earned the show spot. ER Sophia, who was a ten-time winner in 2021, is owned by Brenda Messenger of Monticello, NY in partnership with Scott Woogen of North Chesterfield, VA. The winner paid $11.80 and led an exacta and triple that returned $337.50 and $653, respectively.
Live racing continues on Saturday evening with a star-studded fifteen race program highlighted by the 13th annual Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace. The $250,000 race is the richest of the season at the Spa and will be featured on a night where NY Sire Stakes action for two year old pacing colts and geldings will also take place. First post time is set for 6:45pm.
Photo: Melissa Simser