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.
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.
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.
Photo: Renée Casavant