Somiki & Wally Hennessey

Trainer Gary Levine enjoyed a big month of September at Saratoga Casino Hotel and on Friday night, the veteran conditioner wrapped up the month in style. The 40 year old former leading trainer at the Spa scoring a training double on the Friday card as his Somiki (Always B Miki) made his local debut a winning one in a dominant effort to kick off the evening’s program. Somiki was the public’s 1-5 top choice in the wagering in the $8,700 Friday opener and raced just like an overwhelming favorite should. Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey brushed Somiki to the lead heading to the quarter pole and once he got there, it was over.

The three year old opened up daylight approaching three quarters before reporting home an eleven length winner in 1:55.4. Late in the card, Skyline Blue Chip (American Ideal) was making just his second start out of the Levine stable when he, like his stablemate earlier in the evening, was backed to the tune of 1-5 in the betting. Despite being the big favorite, the three year old Skyline Blue Chip sat patiently in the early stages of his try in a $9,500 race for young pacers.

Reinsman Billy Dobson pulled the right line and the sophomore pacer charged up and past the leaders before stopping the timer in a career-best 1:55.2 to complete a training double for Levine who has vaulted into third in the trainer standings behind what was a monster month of September for him at the Spa.

Live racing continues on Saturday at Saratoga with a first post time set for 5pm. There is a Pick Six Jackpot that sits at $14,269. The Pick Six begins in Saturday’s sixth race.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

Quadratic Blue Chip & Chris Long

It has been a terrific late summer surge for Quadratic Blue Chip (Muscle Hill) at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Lisa Zabielski-trained trotter, who has previously dabbled in the local Open here and there, won the Friday feature for the first time last week (August 26). Zabielski and driver Chris Long have been a potent pairing this summer at the Spa and after their Quadratic Bluechip scored his first Open win last week, he drew post seven on Friday in his effort to repeat in the $16,000 feature.

The race’s favorite Reign Of Honor (Brett Beckwith) made a rare appearance on the front-end and despite working relatively hard to get to the top clicked off a half in a reasonable 57.2. As he and pocket-sitting ER Sophia (Jimmy Devaux) squared off in the stretch, the rail opened up for Quadratic Bluechip who was dismissed at odds of 25-1. The biggest longshot in the feature charged hard in the passing lane and won a photo with Reign Of Honor in a mile clocked in 1:56.3.

ER Sophia finished third but was disqualified for causing interference to a rival around the final turn which resulted in Remember Titans (Jay Randall) being placed third. Quadratic Blue Chip, who is co-owned by Mark Salerno and trainer Lisa Zabielski, paid $52 to win as a rare back-to-back Open Trot winner and led an exacta and triple that returned $316.50 and $809, respectively.

Zabielski and Long doubled on the card as they teamed up for a victory with young trotter Sevenare who like stablemate Quadratic Bluechip recorded a victory for the second consecutive week.

Live racing continues on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Quadratic Bluechip & Chris Long

Driver Chris Long has been on a tear this summer at Saratoga Casino Hotel and on Friday night, the veteran reinsman hit a grand slam. Among the quartet of victors on the card for Long was Quadratic Bluechip (Muscle Hill) who prevailed in the $16,000 Open Trot. The Lisa Zabielski-trained Quadratic Bluechip, who finished third in last week’s installment of the Open, drew post three on Friday night and was dismissed at odds of 10-1.

Long powered the six year old out a bit in the early going and situated him in the pocket behind veteran Cash Me Out (Phil Fluet). The fractions for Cash Me Out were extremely soft as the millionaire cruised unopposed through a first half in 59 seconds. The race’s favorite Reign Of Honor (Brett Beckwith) came first-over on the leader and as those two went toe-to-toe in the stretch, Quadratic Bluechip found late life in the passing lane before coming on to score in 1:56.4 for his first Open win of the season.

Reign Of Honor came up second best while Cash Me Out held on to finish third. Quadratic Bluechip paid $22 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $83.50 and $271.50, respectively. Zabielski’s Sevenare scored in the evening’s nightcap with Long at the controls to complete a training double for her. Long also piloted a pair of Andy Byler-trained trotters to wins as Katkin Morgan and Mark Of A Beast prevailed via first-over journeys on the Friday card. Byler scored three wins, in total, on the card.

Live racing continues on Saturday evening in Saratoga with a first post time of 6:45pm. All eyes will be on race 1 when the Pick Five begins as the carryover in the Pick Five pool will be $11,243.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

ER Sophia & Jimmy Devaux

ER Sophia (Swan For All) won the Open Trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel in July for the first time in her career. The John Mongeon trainee went coast-to-coast with leading driver Jimmy Devaux at the controls to record that victory. Following a third place finish in last week’s trotting feature, it was back into the Open again on Friday night for ER Sophia who drew post seven in the eight-horse feature and thus was the biggest longshot in the race while dismissed at odds of 21-1. Devaux sat patiently in the early going with the mare who was looking to beat the boys in the feature once again.

ER Sophia made her move at the three-quarter pole before swinging wide around the final turn. The six year old came charging home and wound up in a photo finish with millionaire trotter Cash Me Out (Phil Fluet). ER Sophia emerged victorious and paid $45.60 to upset in the $17,150 Open. Cash Me Out was the runner-up while Quadratic Bluechip (Chris Long) earned the show spot.

ER Sophia’s victory was her seventh on the season and second in Open company for owners Brenda Messenger and Scott Woogen. She led an exacta and triple in the feature that returned $301.50 and $2,378, respectively. Devaux piloted four winners on the Friday card.

Live racing continues on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a first post set for 6:45pm.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Angel Nation & Brett Beckwith

Angel Nation (Archangel) was tasked with besting a pair of trotters who have been on a tear of late. The Melissa Beckwith-trained Angel Nation started from post four in Friday’s Open Trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel and was squaring off against Reign Of Honor (Shawn Gray), who has won six of his previous eight starts, and Joxter (Dan Daley) who had hit the board in all ten starts to begin his season, usually while competing in the Open either locally or at Vernon Downs.

Angel Nation got the jump on his major dangers when he left and cut the mile in the Friday feature although Joxter, the race’s favorite at odds of 3-2, marched up on the outside to race parked out from just after the start. The Beckwith trainee went through a first half in an honest 56.2 with Joxter to his flank. All the while, the longest shot on the board Oh So Pine (Larry Stalbaum) sat the pocket behind Angel Nation and became a factor late in the mile.

Reign Of Honor got away last and although he shook free around the final turn, his move proved to be too little too late. Angel Nation drew clear in the stretch and opened up by a couple lengths but made a break under the shadow of the wire. The five year old survived an inquiry and stood as the Open’s winner paying $8.20 in a mild upset. Joxter toughed it out to finish second while Oh So Pine earned the show spot. Reign Of Honor had to settle for fourth.

The exacta and triple in the feature returned $25.80 and $168, respectively. Angel Nation is owned by Bill Hartt of Carmel, ME in partnership with trainer Melissa Beckwith. Brett Beckwith piloted the winner in the $16,000 Open for trotters.

Live racing continues on Saturday evening in Saratoga Springs with a first post time set for 6:45pm.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

Rocket Mac & Leon Bailey

Rocket Mac, trained by Amanda Kelley and driven by Leon Bailey, won Friday night’s 7th race in 1:54.1.

Live racing will continue at Saratoga Casino Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Melissa Simser

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

Debs Prince Hall & Alek Chartrand

In what has been a breakout season for her at Saratoga Casino Hotel, trainer Erica Chartrand secured a training double on Friday evening.  Chartrand’s (Conway Hall) had consistently finished first or second in the winners of two but not more than five class for trotters this spring before traveling out of town for a stint in the New York Sire Stakes. Debs Prince Hall was back to the Spa on Friday to compete in one of the $11,000 co-features for trotters and driver Alek Chartrand powered the talented three year old up first-over.

The gutsy sophomore fought gamely on the outside before wearing down the race’s leader and powering away to prevail by better than two lengths in 1:58.2. Debs Prince Hall, who is owned by Richard Vale of Cambridge, NY, has now finished first or second in five consecutive local starts. Team Chartrand teamed up for another win on Friday when their Valor (Always B Miki) broke his maiden while following the same path as stablemate Debs Prince Hall by taking the first-over journey to the winner’s circle. Valor’s first career score came in 1:55.4 to complete the double for Erica and Alek Chartrand. The three year old Valor is owned by Mike Moore of Old Westbury, NY.

Live racing continues on Saturday evening at Saratoga with first post time set for 5PM

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Stop Staring & Billy Dobson

Driver Billy Dobson has been battling with defending champion Jimmy Devaux at the top of the driver standings in the first few months of the 2022 campaign at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Coming into Friday night second among local drivers in ‘22, the 38 year old reinsman swept both halves of the co-features. With no Open on the card, two divisions of $10,500 pacing events for colts and geldings served as co-features and Dobson went coast-to-coast in both races. Stop Staring (So Surreal) set a lifetime mark earlier in the season when he cruised to a 1:52.4 victory on the engine and while Friday’s victory wasn’t quite as fast as his previous score, the 1:53.2 final time certainly stood out as impressive. The Amanda Kelley-trained Stop Staring had little difficulty prevailing on Friday and did so as his race’s 1-2 top choice in the wagering. Major Makover also went the distance with Dobson in tow as the Gary Levine trainee prevailed for the fourth time in his last five starts, scoring in a seasonal best 1:54.2 on Friday to complete the driving double for Dobson.
Live racing continues on Saturday evening with a first post time of 5PM.

Mike Sardella
Photo: Melissa Simser

Askmenoquestions & Phil Fluet

Askmenoquestions, trained and driven by Phil Fluet won the $11,250 finale at Saratoga tonight in 1:58.4

Saratoga Harness will continue to race Friday evenings through July with a 5pm post time.
Melissa Simser