Birch Island Betty & Brett Beckwith

Birch Island Betty (Big Jim) established herself as a factor in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel late last season. The Eve Bergeron trainee won the ladies’ feature twice in 2021 in a season that saw her hit the board in 21 of her 38 starts. Birch Island Betty made her ’22 debut in early March and has shown improvement every week. Heading into Monday afternoon’s try in the $15,000 Open for distaffers off a second-place finish, the seven year old appeared poised for her first score of the young season. Brett Beckwith took her back in the early going as a host of longshots slugged it out at the start. First half fractions of 27.1 and 56 seconds set the table for closers and Birch Island Betty made her move heading towards the three-quarter pole. The talented mare pulled off a three-wide move and drew away a bit from her rivals around the final turn. Robyn Camden (Billy Dobson), the winner of the last two installments of the local Open for fillies and mares, came from last on Monday and also made steady progress in the race’s final quarter. That classy mare came up short of threepeating as Birch Island Betty held strong in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:55 on a cold afternoon in the Spa City. Birch Island Betty paid $7.30 to win and led an exacta with Robyn Camden second that returned $21.60. Longshot Mc Kella (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot and rounded out a triple that came back $112.50. Birch Island Betty is owned by Dany Grenier, of Quebec, Canada.

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

 

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

Chasethecloudsaway & Luke Hanners

Another Monday afternoon, another feature score for Chasethecloudsaway at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Chris Petrelli-trained distaffer has had the winning way over the past couple of seasons and continued her dominance during Monday’s matinee. Chasethecloudsaway (Sunshine Beach) was the public’s 1-5 betting favorite when she took back to last in a featured field that had just five participants following a late scratch in the race. Driver Luke Hanners sat patiently in the early going before making his move past the 5/8 pole with the five year old winning machine in the $15,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Chasethecloudsaway picked off horses one by one before ranging up to prevail in 1:55.2 to move her record in the 2022 campaign to three-for-three. Owned by David Del Pozzo of Metheun, MA, Chasethecloudsaway now owns nineteen wins in 31 starts in ’21-’22. Robyn Camden (Billy Dobson) finished second in the Open while longshot Treasurethosechips (Leon Bailey) earned the show spot. The chalky exacta paid $5.60 in the feature while the triple came back $35.20. The strong start to the season continues for young reinsman Luke Hanners who piled up four victories on Monday’s card including his third consecutive while sitting behind star pacing mare Chasethecloudsaway.

Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a first post time of 5pm.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Precious Alexis & Brett Beckwith

Monday afternoon was a big one for Brett Beckwith at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The young reinsman took home the Johnny Page Award for the track’s top up-and-coming driver in 2021 and the son of driver Mark Beckwith has established himself as one of the top catch-drivers as the Spa in ’22. Brett scored his first local grand slam on Monday’s matinee highlighted by guiding a trio of Melissa Beckwith trainees to victories. Precious Alexis scored decisively on the engine in a $7,000 conditional race for fillies and mares to make good at odds of 1-2. A beaten favorite when trying to come from last in her seasonal debut last week, Precious Alexis wasted no time grabbing the early lead on Monday and despite moving through a first half of 57.2 powered away to win by five and a half lengths in a mile clocked in 1:55. Yummy Candy also made good at odds-on when she went coast-to-coast for Beckwith in a $9,000 race for young fillies and mares while Mckella led it every step of the way before stopping the timer in 1:55.4. Brett’s grand slam was completed when the Jaymes McAssey-trained Aintnohollabackgrl aired by seven lengths in 1:56.2. Beckwith has begun his season in the top five in the local driver standings after enjoying his biggest ever days at the Spa on Monday.

Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 5pm first post.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

All Speed Rising & Billy Dobson

All Speed Rising, trained by Andy Gardner, scored her 20th lifetime victory in today’s filly & mare feature pace at Saratoga. She was driven to the win by Billy Dobson in 1:57

Melissa Simser

Big Box Hanover & Larry Stalbaum

Larry Stalbaum wrapped up his training title at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Monday afternoon when his Big Box Hanover (Uncle Peter) scored impressively in the matinee’s feature. Stalbaum took home the award for both Trainer of the Year and Horseman of the Year after having just a sensational 2021 season at the Spa. On Monday, Big Box Hanover won the Open Trot for the third time since joining the Stalbaum stable in November. The four year old is wrapping up his third consecutive season of six-figure earnings and although he was a beaten favorite in the two installments of the Open leading up to Monday’s try, he proved up to the task in impressive fashion. Big Box Hanover wound up in the pocket behind aggressive and speedy leader Gigfy (Alek Chartrand) who has consistently finished second or third all year long and certainly of late. Gigfy tried to fend off Big Box Hanover in the stretch but his efforts were thwarted as the Stalbaum trainee cruised by to win in an impressive 1:54.2. Gigfy finished second while Xcuseme (John Stark Jr) earned the show spot. The win time serves as a new lifetime mark for Big Box Hanover whose Open victory was his third in six local tries. The winner is owned by the Red White & Blue Racing Stable of Matamoras, PA. Stalbaum’s Bucketlist Hanover completed a double for the Horseman of the Year as he came from off the pace to score in a $10,700 race for trotters.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon for closing day of the 2021 meet at Saratoga with racing set to resume on February 5, 2022. Closing day will feature a jackpot carryover of $9,370 in the Jackpot Super High Five which takes place in the afternoon’s finale. First post time on Tuesday is set for 12 Noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

I’m Not Vanilla & Brett Beckwith

Monday afternoon’s card at Saratoga Casino Hotel was comprised of eleven trotting races. The featured race was the “Bullet” Bob Meyer Memorial Trot Series Final. The two-leg series saw four different winners among the four $$10,000 divisions which made for a Final that appeared up-for-grabs. With no clear cut favorite, the $20,000 Final wound up with a great stretch drive which was primarily comprised of three of the division winners. Tymal Tullo (Alek Chartrand) took over the lead turning for home after toughing out a first-over journey and had the favored Amazing Sevens (Jay Randall) and series force Im Not Vanilla (Brett Beckwith) closing in from the back of the pack. Im Not Vanilla, who was more than nine lengths off the lead at the half mile, came charging hard on the outside to track down his rivals and secure the victory in 1:59.4. The runner- up as the 1-5 betting favorite in his division of leg two of the series, the Jackie Cantine-trained Im Not Vanilla just missed the series sweep but prevailed when it counted the most. Paying $10.20 to win in the mild upset, Im Not Vanilla led an exacta with Tymal Tullo second that returned $32.20 and a triple with Amazing Sevens third that came back $47.80. Im Not Vanilla, who is eleven years old, is owned by Jeff Cantine of Ballston Spa, NY. The series, formerly called the Holiday Trot, is now named in honor of longtime track announcer Bob Meyer who was most commonly known as the voice of Yonkers Raceway before coming here to Saratoga at the turn of the century. Meyer passed away almost two years ago and now has this series named in his memory.

Live racing resumes on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga with first post time set for noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Notmeitsyou & Phil Fluet

Monday afternoon’s card at Saratoga Casino Hotel featured two divisions of the second leg of the “Bullet” Bob Meyer Memorial Trotting Series. Im Not Vanilla came up just shy of becoming the lone two-leg winner when the Jackie Cantine-trained trotter came up second-best at odds of 1-5 on Monday. Notmeitsyou (Chapter Seven) grabbed the early lead with his trainer Phil Fluet at the controls. The six year old backed things down and reached the half in an uncontested 1:01.2 before the favorite made his move approaching the three quarter pole. Notmeitsyou had enough left to rebuff the challenge in the stretch from Im Not Vanilla who had to settle for second while The Lindy Treaty (Chris Long) finished third. Notmeitsyou, who is owned by John Quimby LLC and the Phil Fluet Stable, paid $13.00 to win in the mild upset.

 

Tymal Tullo (Kadabra) punched his ticket to next week’s Series Final when the Andy Byler trainee outclosed his rivals to prevail in 2:00.3 on Monday. Alek Chartrand sat behind Tymal Tullo who tracked down his race’s favorite Itsoneofthose (Jimmy Devaux) and leg one winner Amazing Sevens (Phil Fluet) late in the game to secure his fifth victory of the season. Pulling off the mild upset at odds of 3-1, Tymal Tullo secured his spot in next Monday’s Final. The five year old is owned by Mahlon Stoltzfus of Millerstown, PA.  The meet’s leading trainer Larry Stalbaum added another pair of victories to his total led by a score in the Open Trot with his Big Box Hanover (Uncle Peter). Stalbaum piloted four winners on the card.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga with first post time set for noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

Im Not Vanilla & Brett Beckwith

Monday afternoon featured two divisions of the first leg of the “Bullet” Bob Meyer Memorial Trotting Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The series is the trotting compliment to the Charlie Hoffman Pacing Series which kicked off on Sunday at the Spa. The series’ formerly called the “Holiday Series” have been renamed this year to honor the two longtime fixtures at the Spa. The Bob Meyer Trot first leg had two divisions on Monday with each division going for a purse of $10,000. With late board backing, Jackie Cantine’s Im Not Vanilla (Chocolatier) was the 3-2 betting favorite in the first division contested on the matinee card. Driver Brett Beckwith sat patiently in the early going with Im Not Vanilla as the race’s leader Riverofroyalty (Brett Crawford) carved out the fractions. Riverofroyalty built what looked to be an insurmountable lead around the final turn but that’s when the eleven year old veteran Im Not Vanilla shifted gears and came storming home in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:59.4. The victory was the third on the season for Im Not Vanilla who is owned by Jeff Cantine of Ballston Spa, NY.

The other leg of the series saw Amazing Sevens (Chapter Seven) go coast-to-coast in 2:01. Driver Phil Fluet worked hard to get the Margaret Spagnola-trained trotter to the lead in the early stages on Monday. Amazing Sevens got a strong middle-half breather while just mildly contested by the race’s favorite Itsoneofthose (Jimmy Devaux) before drawing away to win in 2:01. Jeter’s Way (Brett Beckwith), another Cantine trainee, finished second while Itsoneofthose had to settle for third. Amazing Sevens completed a grand slam for driver Phil Fluet who piloted two winners for both Margaret Spagnola and Kyle Spagnola, including one in the $15,000 Open Trot with Kyle’s Cash Me Out. Fluet now sits just two victories away from reaching the 1,000 win plateau for his career after his huge Monday afternoon in the sulky.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon with a first post time set for noon.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

Squee Hanover & Billy Dobson

Over the course of the last two months, Squee Hanover (Crazed) has been the dominant force among local trotters at Saratoga Casino Hotel. In the midst of his breakout campaign, Squee Hanover headed into Monday’s try in the $15,000 Open Trot with victories in three of his last four Open tries and in four of his last six attempts in the trotting feature. On Monday, Billy Dobson sat behind the Andy Gardner trainee who drew post six in the six-horse Open and came from off the pace. Squee Hanover rushed up first-over after a first lap that went in 57.3. The razor sharp five year old served as cover for Yonkers invader Madhatter Bluechip (Jimmy Devaux) who chased the favorite throughout but came up second-best in a mile clocked in 1:55.4. For Squee Hanover, it was the fifth Open Trot win of the season and the eleventh victory in ’21 overall. Madhatter Bluechip was the runner-up while Oh So Pine (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. The exacta and triple, with the 6-5 favorite on top, came back $13.60 and $53.50, respectively. Squee Hanover is owned by Exceed Stables of Lamar, PA. For the second consecutive day, Dobson piloted four winners the card.

Live racing continues at Saratoga on Tuesday afternoon with a noon start to the action.

 

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy