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

Sea Shadows & Brett Beckwith

Sea Shadows (Shadow Play) continued her magical 2022 campaign on Monday afternoon when the Melissa Beckwith trainee scored in the Fillies and Mars Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The seven year old mare recorded her fourteenth victory of the season as she went wire-to-wire with Brett Beckwith at the controls.

Sea Shadows carved out first-half fractions of 27.2 and 56.4 before being met with the challenge of the race’s 2-5 betting favorite La Bella Vita N (Shawn Gray). Sea Shadows proved up to the task as she turned back La Bella Vita N who had to settle for being the runner-up in the $16,000 feature. Shallow (Brian Cross) sat the pocket to the winner and wound up finishing third.

Sea Shadows paid $7.80 to win in the Open as the second-choice in the wagering. It was the seventh score in the local Fillies and Mares Open this season for Sea Shadows, the most of any distaffer in the ’22 campaign. The mare, who moved her career earnings to over the $350,000 in Monday’s win, is owned by Paul O’Neil of Saratoga Springs.

The win was one of three on the afternoon for the Beckwith stable and reinsman Brett Beckwith who is enjoying a breakout year in just his second full season in the sulky.

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

Mike Sardella
Photo: Melissa Simser

Probert & Brett Beckwith

Trainer Melissa Beckwith’s stable has put forth a few different pacing mares of late that have thrived in the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel. On Monday, Probert (Dali) was the distaffer out of the Beckwith barn to race in the $16,000 feature and although she drew the outside post in the six-horse Open, Probert appeared poised to thrive while coming off a second-place finish last week.

Brett Beckwith piloted Probert to that runner-up try and once again sat behind the five year old on Monday. The 19 year old reinsman flashed early speed with Probert who had been doing the majority of her best work from the back of the pack in recent months. The morning line favorite went off at odds of 3-1 in Monday’s feature and cruised through a first half in 56.3. Feeling just mild pressure, Probert stepped on the gas and paced away late in the mile to win the Open in 1:53.4 over a tracked labeled ‘sloppy.’

Longshot Always Watching (Jordan Derue) gobbled up some ground in the stretch to finish second on Monday while Alittlesidehustl N finished third to hit the board for the fifth consecutive week in the Open. For Probert, it was the second Open victory at the Spa in the last month. The winner is owned by Howard Jacobs, Jim Winske and Marcus Kemblowski. The victory was one of three on the card for trainer Melissa Beckwith and driver Brett Beckwith.

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

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

La Bella Vita N & Shawn Gray

La Bella Vita N (Changeover) stayed red hot on a chilly afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Monday. The Alicia Gray-trained distaffer overcame her outside post to win the $16,000 Fillies and Mares Open. Shawn Gray sat behind the seven year old as she won her third consecutive start on Monday.

Bouncing back and forth between Saratoga and Plainridge this summer, La Bella Vita N powered out early from post seven in the seven-horse feature and although she had to work hard to post a 27 second flat first quarter, the New Zealand invader got a big time breather in quarter two before reaching the half in 57 seconds. Probert (Brett Beckwith) wound up first-over on the race’s favorite on Monday and although she tested her in the stretch, the chase proved futile.

La Bella Vita N stopped the timer in 1:53.4 for her second victory in the local Open and her tenth win of the 2022 season. The even-money favorite led an exacta with Probert second that paid $19 while the triple, which was rounded out by Alittlesidehustl N (Billy Dobson), returned $49.60. She is owned by Bowie Racing of Illinois and Michael Goldberg Racing of Massachusetts.

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

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Racine Bell & Jason Bartlett

Racine Bell (So Surreal) has been competing against the top pacing mares in North America in the last few seasons and on Monday afternoon, the Dave Dewhurst-trained distaffer made her return to Saratoga Casino Hotel to compete in the Fillies and Mares Open. Jason Bartlett came to town to drive Racine Bell who was the public’s 1-9 favorite in the wagering despite drawing the outside post in the $17,150 feature.

Bartlett blasted Racine Bell out early but settled in third in the early going as local top-flight mare Sea Shadows (Brett Beckwith) carved out first-half fractions of 27.3 and 56 seconds. Racine Bell came off the rail heading to the three-quarter pole and although Sea Shadows looked to have something left, the Dewhurst trainee paced right by in the stretch to not only secure the Open win but do so in a final time of 1:51.3.

That clocking matched the all-time track record for pacing mares set in 2017 by Velocity Vespa and matched last year by the track’s Horse of the Year Surreal Feeling, who is owned by Racine Bell’s owners Chris and Dale Lawton. Sea Shadows was a super second while Alittlesidehustl N (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot.

The exacta and triple with the big favorite on top paid $11.20 and $36.60, respectively. Racine Bell’s win was her 28th in 68 lifetime starts and leads her closer to the million dollar mark for her career.

Live racing resumes on Friday evening with a 5pm first post.

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

Probert & Brett Beckwith

Probert (Dali) has enjoyed a massively successful 2022 campaign while racing a handful of different tracks. Despite piling up more than $85,000 in earnings and winning four times on the season, the five year old hadn’t recorded a victory in a couple months when she made her return to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Monday afternoon.

The Melissa Beckwith-trained Probert was back to the Spa to compete in the $16,000 Fillies and Mares Open just three weeks after being a well-beaten favorite in the local feature. Probert finished second or third six times in her previous seven starts heading into Monday’s tilt and wound up being the even money in the ladies’ feature. Brett Beckwith pulled Probert first-over on the leader and eventually ground that one into submission before drawing away to win by two lengths.

Demeter N (Larry Stalbaum) also thrived from off the pace in Monday’s Open and closed to finish second while pocket-sitting Alittlesidehustl N (Billy Dobson) came on to be third. It was the second win in the local Open this year for Probert who scored in the feature back in May. On Monday, she paid $4.30 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $21.40 and $91, respectively.

The Open score was one of two victories on the day for trainer Melissa Beckwith and driver Bret Beckwith who teamed up for a wire-to-wire score with Seafood Sweetheart (American Ideal) in a low-level conditional race. Probert is owned by Howard Jacobs, Jim Winske and Marcus Kemblowski.

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

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Sea Shadows & Brett Beckwith

Sea Shadows (Shadow Play) became the second distaffer to win the Fillies and Mares Open five times in 2022 when on Sunday evening she went coast-to-coast in the $16,000 feature. The Melissa Beckwith trainee drew post seven in the seven-horse Open but driver Brett Beckwith was undaunted by the post draw and marched the classy mare out to the early lead.

The seven year old paid a stiff price to get to the engine, posting a first quarter in 27.4 before reaching the half in 56.2 while traveling unopposed once she got to the front-end. Sea Shadows saw very little pressure before turning for home with a commanding lead. Pocket-sitter Demeter N (Larry Stalbaum) put in a solid effort to be second but was no match for the favored Sea Shadows who paced away to stop the timer in 1:53.2 for her second consecutive win in the Fillies and Mares Open and fifth score since coming to town in early June.

The race’s longshot Unstoppable Hall (Steve Rybka) earned the show spot. For Sea Shadows and her owner Paul O’Neil of Saratoga Springs, it was victory number twelve on the season which put her over the $100,000 mark in earnings on the ’22 campaign. The exacta with the 3-5 betting favorite on top paid $7.60 while the triple came back $64.50. Sea Shadows’ five Open wins ties her with Chasethecloudsaway for most among fillies and mares.

Live racing resumes on Friday evening in Saratoga with a first post time set for 5PM. The post-Labor day schedule for the month of September will include Friday and Saturday evening racing at 5PM at Saratoga Casino Hotel while Sunday and Monday matinees begin at Noon.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

Birch Island Betty & Luke Hanners

Birch Island Betty (Big Jim) won the Fillies and Mares Open for the fourth time of the season at Saratoga Casino Hotel when the Eve Bergeron-trained pacer went coast-to-coast on Sunday night. They powered out to the early lead and driver Luke Hanners rated the mile well, getting a half in 57.2 before clicking off three-quarters in 1:25.4.

The seven year old distaffer got tested in the stretch when last week’s Open winner Demeter N (Larry Stalbaum) tried to complete a last-to-first move to repeat in the ladies’ feature. They held off that late bid and stopped the timer in 1:54.2 to record her fifth victory of the season and fourth in Open company. Demeter N finished second while Luck B Mine (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot in the $16,000 feature.

Birch Island Betty, who paid $11.80 to win in the mild upset, is owned by Dany Grenier of Quebec, Canada. The exacta and triple in the race came back $51 and $313, respectively. With the win, Birch Island Betty moved her career bankroll to over the quarter million dollar mark.

Live racing resumes on Friday evening at Saratoga with a first post time of 6:45pm. There will be Pick 5 carryover of $3,248 on Friday with the Pick 5 beginning in the first race.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Cheyanne Mandy

La Bella Vita N & Shawn Gray

La Bella Vita N (Changeover) drew post position seven in a seven-horse featured field on Sunday evening at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Alicia Gray trainee was making her debut in the Fillies and Mares Open at the Spa following a successful stint at Plainridge Park in Massachusetts. La Bella Vita N advanced a bit in the early going in Sunday’s $16,000 Open as Shawn Gray got her away fourth.

Like La Bella Vita N, Always Watching (Jordan Derue) was in the local Open for the first time in her young career and drew the rail for Sunday’s try. That longshot was aggressive from the get-go and the 11-1 shot carved out first half fractions of 27.1 and 56.4 before rebuffing a first-over bid from the race’s favorite. All the while, La Bella Vita N drafted behind the cover of the favorite before fanning three-wide around the final turn.

The seven year old New Zealand invader surged in the stretch and completed her swoop of the group to score in 1:53.1 in her first ever Open win at Saratoga. Always Watching finished a strong second while Birch Island Betty (Billy Dobson) came on to be third. La Bella Vita N, who is owned by Bowie Racing and Michael Goldberg Racing, paid $10.20 to win in the mild upset.

The exacta returned $83 while the triple came back $364. The victory in the Open was one of two on the card for Alicia Gray and Shawn Gray whose Spicytuna Bluechip (Roll With Joe) scored earlier in the night.

Live racing will resume on Friday night at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post time. There will be a Pick Five carryover of $2,326 starting in the evening’s first race.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Renée Casavant