Surreal Feeling & Alek Chartrand

It isn’t often that a horse who wins a featured race in back-to-back weeks at Saratoga Casino Hotel winds up going off at 5-1 odds in his or her next try against a similar group. That was the case on Wednesday afternoon when Surreal Feeling (So Surreal) was somewhat ignored by the bettors in the $14,000 Fillies and Mares Open as she pursued a hat trick. Alek Chartrand picked up the catch-drive behind the Dale Lawton-trained mare whose early speed is so strong that she had no trouble making it to the top even from post position seven. Surreal Feeling paced the first half in 57.4 and was relatively untested through three quarters of 1:26.1. The six year old mare, who loves to win, did it again as she kicked away from her rivals in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:55 for an open-length score. The victory was the fourth in a row for Surreal Feeling including three straight in the Spa feature for distaffers. Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) sat the pocket to the winner before finishing second while Thats Incredible (Brett Crawford) earned the show spot. Surreal Feeling paid $13.80 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $147 and $880, respectively. Trainer Dale Lawton, of Verona, NY, co-owns Surreal Feeling with Chris Lawton, of Vernon, NY. The win in the feature was the first in an Open this season for reinsman Alek Chartrand who is in the midst of a terrific start to the 2021 campaign.

Live racing resumes on Monday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post set for Noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

Match My Miracle & Brett Crawford

There have been few hotter barns in the first month of the racing season at Saratoga Casino Hotel than that of Margaret Spagnola. Defending top trainer Gary Levine leads the way in the early going of 2021 among conditioners but Spagnola hasn’t been far behind in the first few weeks of the campaign. On Monday, Spagnola’s barn stayed hot as the trotters from her stable shined. Match My Miracle (Imagistic) went coast-to-coast in a $6,150 trotting event to extend his win streak to three on Monday. Brett Crawford is the regular pilot for most of the Spagnola-trained horses and sat behind Match My Miracle as he set a new lifetime mark in his resounding, wire-to-wire victory on an afternoon in Saratoga that actually felt like springtime. Match My Miracle, who is owned by Dave Spagnola and the Our Blue Streaks Stable of NY, had a strong 2020 season that saw him win six races and hit the board eleven times in eighteen starts. Here in ’21, the five year old gelding is now three-for-three after his career best Monday score that came as the public’s odds-on favorite. Longshot Lazzaro (Billy Dobson) closed to finish second while Sweet Sofie T (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot. Another Spagnola-trained trotter, Amazing Sevens, almost went back-to-back with Match My Miracle on Monday as he got tracked down late in the mile in a $7,700 trotting race to finish a strong second while dismissed at odds of 9-1 as the hot start for the Spagnola stable continued.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon with a matinee kicking off at Noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

Gigfy & Alec Chartrand

Gigfy (Broadway Hall) competed in the Open Trot on a few occasions last year at Saratoga Casino Hotel and while he didn’t fare well at that level, he is thriving in the early stages of the 2021 campaign at the Spa. Brian Mattison trains the seven year old trotter who recorded a win at the Meadowlands this winter after being lightly raced in the ’20 season. Last Monday (March 8), Gigfy dropped in class and went coast-to-coast in 1:57.3 for a decisive victory with Alek Chartrand in the bike. This week, looking to repeat, Gigfy drew post seven in a nine-horse field in the matinee’s $7,700 featured race. Chartrand was aggressive in the early stages with the sharp trotter and forwardly placed him at the start. After the race’s favorite Stone In Love (Brian Cross) surged first-over into the lead, Gigfy followed not far behind and took dead aim on the public’s even money top choice around the final turn before reeling him in to score at odds of 4-1. Gigfy stopped the timer in 1:57.2 on a cold, breezy afternoon in Saratoga to go back-to-back. Stone In Love finished second to complete a $28.80 exacta. If Not Why Not (Brett Crawford) rounded out what was a $191 triple. Gigfy is owned by Gerald D’Alessandro of Ocala, FL and Bridgette Mattison of Watervliet, NY.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga with a Noon first post.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

Gruden & Billy Dobson

Gruden (Muscles Yankee) was one of the most consistent trotters at Saratoga Casino Hotel last season. The Monica Krist trainee recorded an Open Trot victory last fall while enjoying a five-win campaign in 2020. Gruden had six second-place finishes to go with the five victories in just 19 starts last year. Now in his eight year old season, Gruden enjoyed a solid stretch at the Meadowlands this winter before finishing second from post eight during opening week at the Spa. On Monday, Gruden was the betting favorite in the $10,000 trotting feature and reinsman Billy Dobson powered the talented high-stepper out to the early lead. Gruden had his way in lap one on Monday before being confronted by a first-over Manny L (Jimmy Devaux) approaching three-quarters. The 4-5 public choice rebuffed that challenge before drawing clear in the stretch to win in 1:58.1. Pocket-sitting INXS (Shawn Gray) finished second at odds of 18-1 while Manny L earned the show spot. Though Gruden paid just $3.80 to win, the exacta and triple in the race came back $29.80 and $99.50, respectively. Gruden is owned by Rick Dobson of Howell, MI.

Racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga featuring the first installment of the Open Pace on the season. First post time on Tuesday is set for Noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino