Sophomore NYSS Debut At The Spa

New York Sire Stakes action highlighted a fifteen race card on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Three year old colt and gelding pacers were featured on a night that featured a pair of $80,000+ stakes races for sophomore New York breds. Huntinthelastdolar (Huntsville-Eighthunrdolrbill-Bettor’s Delight) came to town off a lifetime-best 1:49.2 score in NYSS competition at Vernon Downs.

On Saturday, Wally Hennessey piloted Huntinthelastdolar for trainer Gregg Mcnair and sat behind the sophomore as he paced a sizzling first quarter in 26.3 before getting a significant breather and reaching the half in 56.3.

Huntinthelastdolar cruised to victory in 1:52.2 to record his second win in as many weeks. The three year old colt, who is owned by Gregg Mcnair, George Kerr and Bradley Grant of Ontario, Canada, was his race’s co-favorite at odds of 6-5. I Was Tricked (Braxten Boyd) finished second while Goldin Greatness (Jason Bartlett) earned the show spot in the $82,500 stakes event.

The $84,000 NYSS race went the way of Duval Street (Huntsville-Native Bride-Allamerican Native) who won the biggest race of his young career on Saturday night. Jason Bartlett piloted the Ed Hart-trained three year old who sat the pocket to Blue Hunt (Wally Hennessey) until evacuating the two-hole at the three quarter pole.

Duval Street overpowered that rival before pacing away to score by two and quarter lengths in a mile clocked in 1:52.4. Blue Hunt, the 8-5 second choice in the wagering, finished second to the 3-2 favorite on Saturday while Taste Of Honey (Brett Beckwith) was third best.

It was in a $20,000 Excelsior Series race on Saturday in which the fastest mile of the 2023 season at the Spa was paced as Storm The Court (Huntsville) scored in 1:51.4 with Jason Bartlett driving for trainer Mark Silva.

Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee that begins at noon.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Jessica Hallett

Saratoga Casino HotelSaratoga Springs, New York

Perfect Vixen & John Stark Jr.

Perfect Vixen (Muscles Yankee) wins the 2022 New York Sire Stakes at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Saratoga Casino Hotel hosted the 2022 NYSS (New York Sire Stakes) Excelsior Series finals on Sunday afternoon. All 8 finals went for a purse of $50,000.

Pictured here is the winner of the 3 year old filly trot final, Perfect Vixen, conditioned by local trainer Scott Mongeon and driven to the win by local driver John Stark Jr.
She left and settled into the 2 hole, but inherited the lead by the first quarter. After gaining the front she never looked back, and coasted to an easy win in 1:56, trotting her last quarter in 28.3.
– Melissa Simser

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 Springs. 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.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Bare My Soul & Scott Zeron

Bare My Soul (trained by Linda Toscano) and driver Scott Zeron won the fastest division of Sunday night’s NYSS for 3yr old trotting fillies in 1:56.

Live racing will resume at Saratoga Casino Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY

Melissa Simser

Crown & Brian Sears

Saratoga harness hosted the NYSS 2 year old trotting colts Friday night. The fastest of the four divisions was won by Crown, trained by Marcus Melander and driven to the win by Brian Sears. The maiden trotter by Chapter Seven won is first pari-mutuel start in 1:57.1

Live racing will continue at Saratoga Casino Hotel.

Melissa Simser

Canterbury Hanover & Brian Sears

Two year old trotting fillies Canterbury Hanover (Chapter Seven-Charmed Life-Majestic Son) and Kayleigh S (Chapter Seven-Pasithea Face S- Muscle Hill) took center stage on Monday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel as a pair of New York Sire Stakes races highlighted the twelve-race card. Most fillies were making their lifetime debut when they took part in the $78,700 and $77,300 co-featured races for the rookie trotters. Stablemates Canterbury Hanover and Kayleigh S recorded victories in the big races for trainer Marcus Melander and driver Brian Sears.

Canterbury Hanover had one solid qualifier as prep for her debut on Monday and cruised on the front end under the guidance of the Hall of Famer Sears in her NY Sire Stake race. Canterbury Hanover, the 4-5 betting favorite, cruised to a decisive score in her debut. The freshman filly was the fastest two year old of the day as she stopped the timer in 1:59. Canterbury Hanover is owned by Holly Lane Stud East LTD of Vero Beach, FL.

Kayleigh S also came in with one qualifier at the Meadowlands on her resume, one in which she showed some promise. Sears wasted little time moving to the front with the Melander trainee who held off just a mild challenge from the favorite in the stretch before scoring in 2:00.4 in the $77,300 NY Sire Stakes event for freshman fillies. Kayleigh S, who paid $5.80 to win as her race’s second choice in the wagering, is owned by Courant Inc. of Delray Beach, FL. While Sears won the two biggest races of the day, Jason Bartlett piloted three winners on the matinee card.

Live racing resumes on Friday evening at Saratoga with a first post time set for 5PM.

Mike Sardella

Photo:  Melissa Simser

Twin B Deluxe & Jason Bartlett

Saratoga Harness hosted the NYSS 3year old colt pacers today. Twin B Deluxe, trained by Andrew Harris, won the first of three New York Sire Stakes races each with a purse of $58,000. Driver Jason Bartlett steered Twin B Deluxe to the win in 1:53.

The fastest mile of the day was in a division of the New York Excelsior series, when Kingsville paced in 1:52.3. Kingsville is trained by Gareth Dowse and was driven by Scott Zeron.

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

Melissa Simser
Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

Molotov Cocktail & Brian Sears

There were three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for two year old trotting colts and geldings that took place on Monday’s matinee at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The three races, which each went for a purse of more than $46,000, were highlighted by a showdown between two trotters in one of the divisions that each came into the day undefeated. Justice (Chapter Seven-Religulous-Muscles Yankee) came into Monday’s try two-for-two for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt. The freshman faced the toughest task of his young career as he took on the Jim Campbell-trained Cool Papa Bell (Jason Bartlett) who was three-for-three heading into Monday’s tilt. Svanstedt moved Justice, who was bet down to odds of 1-9, right out to the early lead and enjoyed pretty leisurely fractions with Cool Papa Bell stalking him from the pocket throughout. Justice trotted his back half in 58 seconds and needed every tick of it to hold off Cool Papa Bell who surged in the stretch before coming up shy by a head in a mile clocked in 1:58.1. Justice moved his career earnings to over the $63,000 mark in just three lifetime starts for owners Ake Svanstedt, Torbjorn Swahn, Myfab, and Little E.

The second division of the afternoon saw the biggest upset among the Sire Stakes races on Monday. Valentine Express (Chapter Seven- Cantata- Donato Hanover) got the pocket ride behind the favored Quincy Market (Corey Callahan) in the five-horse NYSS event. Valentine Express rode the coattails of the two-time Sire Stakes winner throughout before powering past him in the stretch to record the biggest win of his young career. Coming into the race with less than $2,000 in earnings, Valentine Express earned the winner’s share of the $47,067 purse for owners Salvatore Vullo and James De Armond of New York. Valentine Express, who is trained by Jessica Okusko, scored in 1:59.4.

The final division of the day went to Molotov Cocktail (Chapter Seven-Moonlight Cocktail-Kadabra) who never had an anxious moment before stopping the timer in 1:58.3. The two year old trotter came in off an eleven length victory at Batavia which was the second win in NY Sire Stakes competition in his freshman campaign. The public’s 1-2 betting favorite on Monday coasted to a wire-to-wire victory with Brian Sears in the sulky. Molotov Cocktail is owned by Richard Gutnick and Gary Cocco of PA in partnership with Thomas Pontone of Holmdel, NJ and trained by Linda Toscano.

Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon featuring a carryover of $3,872 in the Pick Five pool starting in the first race which is set for noon.


Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

Moni For Lindy & Yannick Gingras

Iteration continued her sensational sophomore season on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel as the three year old filly kicked off a big day for her connections. In her $74,000 division of the New York Sire Stakes, Iteration (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows-Muscle Massive) wasted little time moving out to the lead with Brian Sears at the controls and the super soph had no difficulty cruising to her fourth victory of the season. Over a track labeled ‘sloppy,’ Iteration never faced a legit challenge before stopping the timer in 1:57.4 to move her seasonal earnings to just shy of $320,000 and her lifetime bankroll to close to $635,000. Sweeping Rainbow (Scott Zeron) finished second to the 2-5 betting favorite and completed a $5.90 exacta while Titans Hope (Jason Bartlett) earned the show spot and rounded out an $11.40 triple in the five-horse field. Iteration’s connections of owner Courant Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida, trainer Marcus Melander and driver Brian Sears scored a natural hat trick on the Tuesday card when their big Sire Stakes victory was followed up by wins with Insured Am S (Chapter Seven), who came from well off the pace to score in a $15,000 NYSS Excelsior A event for three year olds, and Izzy Demsky (E L Titan) who completed the natural hat trick for her connections.

The $72,700 division of the NY Sire Stakes for sophomore fillies went the way of Moni For Lindy (Credit Winner- Live Moni-Conway Hall) who prevailed with Yannick Gingras at the controls. Moni For Lindy left alertly to overcome her “outside” post as she drew the four post in a four-horse race. The sophomore filly made it to the top before being confronted and bypassed by Contested Hanover (Scott Zeron) approaching the quarter. Gingras was content to sit the pocket which turned out to be the right move as Moni For Lindy trotted by that rival in the stretch to win in 1:56.4. Contested Hanover finished second while Splash Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) ended up third. Moni For Lindy, who is owned by Greathorse, of Hampden, MA, paid $8.40 to win in the four-horse field as she recorded her fifth victory in eight seasonal tries for trainer Domenico Cecere.

Live racing resumes on Saturday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post.



Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

Hamptons Babe & Jason Bartlett

Two year old pacing fillies took center stage on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel when the New York Sire Stakes were featured as part of the fourteen race matinee. There were two divisions of the Sire Stakes that went for purses of more than $70,000 and while each race consisted of a big favorite only one of them saw the favorite prevail. Freshman filly Gotthegreenlight (American Ideal) came into the day on a four-race win streak and the Nifty Norman trainee wound up as the 1-5 betting favorite in the $71,600 division of the NYSS. Gotthegreenlight wound up having to come first-over with Mark Macdonald at the controls and while she made a big push on the outside got passed in the stretch by rival Hamptons Babe (American Ideal-Anndrovette-Riverboat King) who surged in the passing lane and got up to win for the first time in her young career. The Tony Alagna trainee stopped the timer in 1:53.4 to break her maiden in resounding fashion and paid $13.20 to win in the mild upset. The favored Gotthegreenlight had to settle for second while Wine N Dine Me (Joe Bongiorno) finished third. Hamptons Babe, who was the runner-up in her first two tries in Sire Stakes competition before recording Tuesday’s win, is owned by Crawford Farms Racing of Syracuse, NY.

While the 1-5 favorite came up second-best in the first of the two divisions of the NYSS on Tuesday, the public’s odds-on favorite thrived in the $72,900 race for freshman fillies. Just Divine (Huntsville-Divine Caroline-Rock N Roll Heaven) came in as a winner of both starts in NY Sire Stake competition and was well positioned for the stakes hat trick as she drew post three on Tuesday. Matt Kakaley piloted the Ron Burke-trained filly who moved to the lead in the early stages and just powered away from her rivals before recording a decisive victory in 1:55 while under wraps at the wire. The heaviest of favorites at 1-9, Just Divine remained undefeated in NYSS competition and continued to make her case as the one to beat among freshman fillies this season. Just Divine is owned by Donovan, Sbrocco, Henderson and Purnell & Libby. A Girl That Twirls (Dan Dube) closed sharply to be second while Symphony Girl (Jason Bartlett) earned the show spot.

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



Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino