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.
Live racing continues on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a first post time set for 6:45pm.
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.
Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga. There will be a Pick 5 carryover of $1,967. The Pick 5 begins in the evening’s first race which is set for 6:45pm.
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