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

Birch Island Betty & Billy Dobson

Birch Island Betty, driven by Billy Dobson, won tonight’s open filly & mare pace in 1:54. Birch Island Betty is trained by Eve Bergeron and this was her 3rd open win this year at The Spa.

Melissa Simser