La Bella Vita N & Shawn Gray

La Bella Vita N (Changeover) has been a force in the Fillies and Mares Open since coming to Saratoga Casino Hotel this summer. The Alicia Gray trainee won the ladies’ Open three times from the beginning of August through the start of October despite competing out of town in a good chunk of her starts over the course of that span.

On Monday afternoon, La Bella Vita N came into the feature off back-to-back runner-up tries while a beaten favorite in each of those second-place finishes. She was once again the public’s top choice in Monday’s $16,000 Open when reinsman Shawn Gray sat patiently in the early going. Getting away last in the six-horse feature, she remained last in a first half that went in 56.4.

With last week’s Open winner Sea Shadows (Brett Beckwith) on the lead, La Bella Vita N revved up the engine and powered up first-over before taking over the lead turning for home. The favorite made good at odds of 3-5 when she stopped the timer in 1:55.2 to record her fourth victory in the Fillies and Mares Open at the Spa.

Fond Memories A (Larry Stalbaum) finished second in her debut in the ladies’ feature while Sea Shadows (Brett Beckwith) held on to earn the show spot. La Bella Vita N is owned by Bowie Racing and Michael Goldberg Racing. Trainer Alicia Gray and driver Shawn Gray also teamed up for the winner of Saturday night’s Open Pace for the boys as their Alluneedisfaith N overcame post eight to record his fourth win in the local feature since coming to town late in the summer.

Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 5pm. | Saratoga Springs, New York

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

La Bella Vita N & Shawn Gray

It’s been a hot stretch at Saratoga Casino Hotel for trainer Alicia Gray and driver Shawn Gray and on Monday, the tandem teamed up for their second Open Pace win in the last three days at the Spa. Their Alluneedisfaith N won the Open Pace on Saturday night on an evening that saw Shawn Gray pilot five winners. In Monday’s matinee, the Alicia Gray-trained La Bella Vita N (Changeover) was the public’s overwhelming favorite in the wagering after the would-be favored Sea Shadows got scratched.

Gray took the 1-5 shot La Bella Vita N back in the early going in what was a field of five in the $16,000 Fillies and Mares Open. The big favorite sat patiently in a first half that went in 56.3. Gray picked up cover with his seven year old distaffer and in a matter of just a few strides, she put the swoop to the group pacing away from her rivals to score in 1:52.2. For La Bella Vita N, it was victory number nine on the season and her second in the local Fillies and Mares Open. With the earnings from Monday’s score, La Bella Vita N went over the $100,000 mark for the ’22 campaign. The New Zealand invader is owned by Bowie Racing of Shorewood IL and Michael Goldberg RacingLLC of Massachusetts.

Live racing resumes on Friday evening at Saratoga with will feature some intriguing carryovers. The Pick Five, which begins in race 1, has a carryover of $2,453. The Jackpot in the Pick Six has climbed to $10,071 while the Super High Five Jackpot in the evening’s finale will carry $3,611.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

All Speed Rising & Jay Randall

All Speed Rising (All Speed Hanover) has established herself as a formidable Filly and Mare Open Pacer this season at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Andy Gardner trainee came into Monday’s try in the $15,000 feature with a win and a pair of seconds to her credit in her five seasonal tries in the Open for distaffers. All Speed Rising often utilizes her early speed and did just that in Monday’s feature when driver Jay Randall powered her right out to the lead. After moving quickly through a first quarter in 27.4, the seven year old got a second quarter breather before completing lap one in 58.1. The race’s even money favorite, All Speed Rising held strong throughout and wound up powering away from her rivals to score in 1:55.3 for her second Open win of the young season. Miss Irish Rose A (Larry Stalbaum) was the pocket-sitter and wound up as the feature’s runner-up while Checks On The Way (Phil Fluet) earned the show spot. All Speed Rising, who is owned by George Tackley and Wendy Storrier, gave driver Jay Randall one of his three winners on the card. Paying $4.00 to win, the speedy mare led an exacta and triple that came back $28.60 and $132, respectively. The victory in the feature was one of two on the day to go with a pair of second-place finishes for Gardner who currently sits atop the trainer standings in the young ’22 season.

Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with first post time set for 5pm.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Squee Hanover & Billy Dobson

Last year marked the breakout season for Squee Hanover (Crazed) as the Andy Gardner trainee won the local Open Trot seven times. After finishing up his campaign in red-hot fashion, Squee Hanover took about a month and a half off before returning to the Open last Sunday (Feb 6). The six year old finished third in his seasonal debut and on Monday afternoon Squee Hanover looked to get back into the win column while participating in the $15,000 feature. Billy Dobson was the regular reinsman for Squee Hanover during the majority of his late season hot streak in ’21 and has gotten off to a great start to his 2022 campaign in the sulky. Dobson powered Squee Hanover out to a pretty easy lead on Monday and from there, it was over. The Gardner stable star loves the front-end and held firm on the engine before trotting away from his rivals in a mile clocked in 1:56.3 to record his first Open victory of the year. Last week’s Open winner Gigfy (Alek Chartrand) charged hard in the stretch to get up for second while Xcuseme (John Stark Jr) earned the show spot. Squee Hanover was one of two 8-5 co-favorites on Monday and subsequently paid $5.40 to win. The exacta and triple in the trotting feature returned $20.80 and $74, respectively. Squee Hanover, who is owned by the Exceed Stables of Lamar, PA, gave his trainer Andy Gardner one of his three winners on the Monday card.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon with a matinee carded in place of the regular Sunday matinee which didn’t occur due to it being Super Bowl Sunday. First post time Tuesday is set for Noon.

 

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Madhatter Bluechip & Jimmy Devaux

Madhatter Bluechip (Muscle Hill) is in the midst of a big time comeback campaign after missing all of the 2020 season. The Tom Milici-trained trotter posted an Open win at Yonkers in September and returned to Saratoga Casino Hotel last week (November 1) off a three week layoff. Madhatter Bluechip finished second to Squee Hanover in that start. The nine year old got his chance at revenge on Monday afternoon at the Spa when he started from post four in a five-horse Open Trot which served as the feature on the card. Leading driver Jimmy Devaux wasted little time moving Madhatter Bluechip to the front-end where he put up fast fractions in lap one. Posting fractions of 27.2 and 57 seconds in the first half, Madhatter Bluechip faced very little pressure throughout the mile. The favored Squee Hanover (Billy Dobson) revved up the engine late in the mile before getting caught three-wide around the final turn. Madhatter Bluechip scampered away to win by a length and a half in a fast 1:54.4 as the race’s 7-5 second-choice in the wagering. Squee Hanover stayed hot and finished second while Cash Me Out (Phil Fluet) earned the show spot in the $15,000 feature for high-steppers. For Madhatter Bluechip, it was victory number eight on the season. The earnings from the win put the veteran over the $100,000 mark for the ’21 campaign and over the $400,000 plateau for his career. The exacta and triple in the Open paid $9.60 and $24.40, respectively. For the meet’s leading driver Jimmy Devaux, the victory in the feature was one of five on the day as he looks to cement his first ever Saratoga driving title.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon with a matinee starting at noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Olde Broadside Open Pace Win

It’s been a terrific season in the sulky for Alek Chartrand at Saratoga Casino Hotel and on Monday, the up-and-coming reinsman recorded his first Open Pace victory. Chartrand sat behind the Linda Flynn-trained Olde Broadside (American Ideal) who has been on top of his game of late. After going winless in his first handful of starts in 2020, Olde Broadside scored three victories and had three third-place finishes in his seven tries leading up to Monday’s start in the $9,350 Open. One of two Opens on the matinee card, the pacing feature saw no clear-cut favorite in the wagering so much so that Olde Broadside, who was debuting in the Open, wound up as the 2-1 co-favorite in the race. The other co-favorite Gokudo Hanover (Chris Long) cut the mile and set fast fractions on the engine. After going a half in 55.3, Gokudo Hanover still led the way around the final turn but was stride for stride with Tenacious One A (Larry Stalbaum). Olde Broadside was third-over going to three quarters but came storming home in the stretch after fanning to the far outside. He got up to win in 1:54 to give Chartrand his first career Open win which was the first for Flynn in several seasons. Tenacious One A was the runner-up while Gokudo Hanover held on for third. Olde Broadside is owned by Francis Morse of Schuylerville, NY.

The other co-feature went the way of invader Winning Legends (Winning Mister). Justin Huckabone trains and drives the four year old trotter who came in on a hot streak of his own. A winner of six of eleven starts in ’20 coming into his debut in the local Open, Winning Legends settled in fifth in the early going before moving first-over approaching the half. Winning Legends wore down the race’s leader and took over mid-stretch before hanging on to win by a nose over late-closing Ronnie Goldstein (Brett Crawford). Gruden (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. Winning Legends, who is owned by Jonathan Applebaum of Yorktown Heights, NY, was the 3-5 betting favorite in the $9,350 featured event for trotters. The win was the first in a local feature for Huckabone as well as both Opens saw first-time Open winning drivers on the Monday matinee.

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