Learn And Earn Series Concludes

The Finals for the Learn and Earn Series’ took place on Sunday evening at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The series’ for two year olds were implemented this season to give freshmen horses a chance to compete against other freshmen with an opportunity to “earn while they learn.” There were four legs of each series leading up to Sunday’s Finals. The Learn and Earn Pace Final saw a bit of unique circumstances as the horse that hit the wire third wound up being placed first following a double disqualification. The favorite in the $13,400 Final was Sand Dollar (Jimmy Devaux) who was on the front-end and battling with rival Kissapotamus (Dustin Miller) around the final turn. Kissapotamus interfered with Sand Dollar causing him to leave the course while on a break. In the meantime, Diamonds Choice (Dan Daley), the longest shot in the wagering, came charging hard in the stretch. When the dust settled, Kissapotamus hit the line first while Sand Dollar came back onto the course to edge Diamonds Choice. Kissapotamus was subsequently disqualified for the interference but Sand Dollar was deemed to have gained ground while on the break and thus had to be placed behind Diamonds Choice. Dan Daley trains and drives Diamonds Choice who, when all was said and done, emerged victorious to spring the upset at odds of 21-1. Sand Dollar wound up being placed second while Kissapotamus was placed third. Diamonds Choice is owned by Ann-Mari Daley and Bukers Stable.

The Learn and Earn Trotting Series Final saw an early speed duel between the top two betting choices. The $12,700 Final of the four-leg Series saw the favored Wow Love (Dan Daley) get parked the mile by two-leg winner Miss Chip Away (John Stark Jr). As those two sparred, Family Riches (Met’s Hall) got her cue to tip three-wide from driver Billy Dobson and the freshman filly trotted into a commanding lead around the last turn. Family Riches, who is trained by Chip Zombick Jr for owner Mike Pozefsky, stopped the timer in 2:00.2, a career-best clocking for the two year old. Miss Chip Away held second while Wow Love salvaged the show spot.

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

Mike Sardella

Photo: Jessica Hallett

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

HS Shauna Tops Sunday Card

HS Shauna (Up Front Charlie) has established herself as one of the top claiming pacing mares at Saratoga Casino Hotel this summer and on Sunday, she won her biggest race of the season to date. The eight year old mare was claimed out of the $10,000 claimers last month by owner Mark Rowland for trainer Kyle Spagnola.

HS Shauna had been thriving in the ten claimers but after switching connections stepped up in class. The veteran distaffer scored in the fifteen claimers before moving up in company once again. After a second and a third-place finish upon stepping up again, HS Shauna drew the rail for Sunday’s try in the optional twenty thousand dollar claimer and drew the rail.

Driver Shawn Gray was content to sit the pocket in Sunday’s $12,500 race which saw first-half fractions of 26.4 and 56 seconds. The leader, favored Rockabillycockshut (Luke Hanners), continued to roll along unopposed through three quarters in 1:23.4 and held the lead until the final strides when HS Shauna surged up the passing lane to come on and win by a head.

Rockabillycockshut finished second while longshot Tipperary Hill (Jim Devaux) earned the show spot. HS Shauna paid $10.60 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $23.40 and $106.50, respectively. The victory, which was number eight on the season for HS Shauna, came in a seasonal best 1:52.4.

Live racing resumes on Friday evening at Saratoga with a 6:45pm first post.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Jessica Hallett

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

Brett Derue Wins Four

Trainer Brett Derue is in the midst of the biggest season of his career at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Derue has been in a near dead-heat with Melissa Beckwith atop the trainer standings at the Spa for most of the 2023 campaign and on Sunday, the young conditioner enjoyed his biggest night of the year. Derue had six horses entered over the course of the thirteen race card on Sunday and all of his trainees appeared to have at worst a decent shot to prevail in their respective races. By the time the evening came to an end, Derue did in fact add four wins to his bulky total for the ’23 season. Love Yourself (Rock N Roll Heaven) concluded the big night for Derue when he outclosed his rivals in a $10,700 claiming pace to complete a natural hat trick (three consecutive winners on the card) while recording win number four on the evening for his trainer. Wally Hennessey piloted Love Yourself to the victory when the eight year old shifted gears late in the mile to swoop the group. Love Yourself paid $13.80 in the mild upset. His owners, Steve Picarazzi, Brett Derue and Darreyl Bullard also saw their Hot Joe (Brett Beckwith) score a first-over victory on Sunday while their Okie From Muskogee went coast-to-coast with Shawn Gray in the sulky. Picarazzi and Derue teamed up with Hennessey once again for a win when their American Tour N held on to secure her seventh victory of the season. Derue surged back in a small lead in the training standings with his Sunday grand slam.

Live racing resumes on Friday evening with action starting at 6:45pm. There will be a pick five carryover of $4,220 in the early pick five which start in Friday’s first race.     

Mike Sardella

Photo: Jessica Hallett

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

Chapheart Captures Saratoga Feature Trot

With no Open Trot on the docket at Saratoga Casino Hotel, the $15,525 Winners Over for trotters served as the feature on Sunday afternoon. Melissa and Brett Beckwith have teamed up for five Open wins this season with their Angel Nation who won the most recently contested Open last Sunday (June 25).

This weekend saw the Beckwith’s Chapheart (Chapter Seven) go off as the favorite in the feature for high-steppers. Being the public’s top choice in the wagering is nothing different for the four year old Chapheart who was the odds-on favorite in each of his first five Saratoga starts, three of which saw him prevail. On Sunday, Brett Beckwith left a bit with Chapheart before winding up pulling the even money favorite first-over on leader Makadushin N Cheez (Jimmy Devaux).

Those two did battle for a half mile before Chapheart began to impose his will and grind the leader into submission before stopping the timer in 1:56 to record his fourth win in six local tries. Makadushin N Cheez held strong to be second while Gigfy (Alek Chartrand) earned the show spot. Chapheart paid $4.20 to win while going off at the biggest odds he’s been in any of his local tries.

He led an exacta and triple that returned $8.20 and $30.80, respectively. The victory, which came in 1:56, was one of three consecutive on the card for young reinsman Brett Beckwith who sits in second among local drivers in the 2023 campaign.

Chapheart is owned in partnership by Yannick Gingras of NJ and Fac Racing LLC of Scarsdale, NY.

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

Mike Sardella

Photo: Jessica Hallett

Saratoga Casino HotelSaratoga Springs, New York

Summit City Sonny Extends Saratoga Win Streak

Summit City Sonny (Dover Dan) hasn’t lost a race at Saratoga Casino Hotel since mid-February and the Jesse McAssey-trained trotter extended that win streak on Sunday afternoon. He prevailed in his first ever try in the local Open when on March 19th, the four year old sprung the upset in the Sunday feature.

Following a two-race stint at Yonkers, it was back to the Spa on Sunday for the McAssey stable star who again was fairly ignored by the betting public who dismissed him at odds of 9-1. Leon Bailey is the regular driver for Summit City Sonny who flashed speed in the $17,000 Open Trot to wind up in the pocket behind the race’s longshot Xcuseme (John Stark Jr).

Summit City Sonny kept the leader in his sights every step up of the way before sliding out around the final turn to take on Xcuseme before ultimately powering past him to record a decisive three-plus length score in the feature. The final time of 1:55.1 marks a new career-best win time for Summit City Sonny who is co-owned by Jesse McAssey and Adam Friedland.

He paid $20.80 to win in the upset. Big Box Hanover came charging hard late to win a photo for place and complete a $90.50 exacta while Xcuseme earned the show spot in what was a $752 trifecta.

Live racing continues on Monday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time of noon. There will be a carryover of $3,386 in the Pick Five that starts in the matinee’s first race.

Mike Sardella

Photo: Jessica Hallett

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

Summit City Sonny Wins Five In A Row

Summit City Sonny (Dover Dan) came into Sunday’s Open Trot at Saratoga Casino Hotel riding as long of a win streak as any horse has had in the young season. The Jesse McAssey trainee debuted at the Spa last year and enjoyed a good amount of success racing. The 2023 campaign started with a second-place finish for Summit City Sonny who quickly got into the win column the following week while competing in the winner of two but not more than five race lifetime condition. From there, the four year old rattled off a total of four consecutive victories before stepping up into the Open for the first time on Sunday afternoon. Leon Bailey has been the regular reinsman for Summit City Sonny this season and piloted him aggressively in the $17,000 feature pulling first-over on Beerthirty K (Jimmy Devaux) who cruised through a comfortable first half of 58.3. Summit City Sonny didn’t seem to pose much of a threat to the leader who clicked off three-quarters in 1:27.1. The McAssey trainee would not give in though and just kept plugging away on the outside before wearing down Beerthirty K late in the game to prevail in his debut in the Open. Beerthirty K was the runner-up while Big Box Hanover (Matt Athearn), the winner of the previous two installments of the Open Trot, came from the back of the pack to finish third on Sunday. Summit City Sonny, who is owned by his trainer Jesse McAssey in partnership with Adam Friedland, paid $23.60 to win in the upset and led an exacta and triple that returned $76.50 and $278.50, respectively.

Live racing continues on Monday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee starting at noon.

Photo: Jessica Hallett

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

Big Box Hanover & Larry Stalbaum

Big Box Hanover (Uncle Peter) was a nominee for Trotter of the Year at Saratoga Casino Hotel in 2022 after the classy high-stepper enjoyed a six-figure campaign by way of four victories in the local Open Trot. Larry Stalbaum owns, trains and drives the now six year old who drew post seven for his try in the first Open Trot of the ’23 season on Sunday afternoon.

Big Box Hanover came into the start off a win in the Batavia Open just a few weeks back and on Sunday, Stalbaum wasted little time powering his barn’s top trotter out to the front end. After enjoying a comfortable first half that was clocked in 58.4, they were met with the challenge of pocket-pulling rival Grinder (Leon Bailey). That one put in a brief bid but came up short as Big Box Hanover prevailed in 1:58.1 to record the victory in the first Open for trotters. Grinder came up second-best while Reign Of Honor (Brett Beckwith) earned the show spot in the $17,000 feature.

Big Box Hanover, the morning line favorite, paid $10 to win and led an exacta and triple that returned $136 and $1,027, respectively.

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

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York

Mass Confession & Billy Dobson

Mass Confession (trained by Kari Finn) and driver Billy Dobson won Sunday’s final for The Bullet Bob Meyer Memorial Trot in impressive fashion. After easily making the front, the 7 year old gelding by Muscle Mass went wire to wire in 1:57.3. He was also the winner of the second leg of the series last week, trotting in 1:59.1.  Today’s final went for a purse of $21,400. Mass Confession paid $2.70 to win.

Racing continues tomorrow, first post is set for noon. | Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York
Melissa Simser

Gigfy & Alek Chartrand

On a weekend in which Gigfy (Broadway Hall) was announced as a nominee for the Trotter of the Year Award at Saratoga Casino Hotel, the Brian Mattison trainee recorded his third Open win of the season. Gigfy drew the rail for his try in the $16,000 Open Trot and took full advantage of his inside post to cut the mile in the feature.

The eight year old high-stepper cruised unopposed through a first half of 58.4 and held strong in the race’s back-half before stopping the timer in 1:56.4 for the third Open score in his ’22 campaign. Innisfallen (Jordan Derue) sat the pocket and finished second while the favored Angel Nation (Brett Beckwith) came on to be third. Gigfy was piloted by Alek Chartrand and was dismissed at odds of 9-1, paying $21.40 for win. The exacta and triple returned $160 and $616.

Gigfy is owned by Gerald D’Allessandro of Ocala, FL and Bridgette Mattison of Watervliet, NY. Gigfy now has earnings of over $97,000 in what has been a terrific season for the veteran trotter in a season that has resulted in him being named one of five nominees for the track’s top honor for trotters.

Live racing continues on Monday afternoon with a matinee that starts at noon. | Saratoga Springs, New York

Mike Sardella

Photo: Melissa Simser

Innisfallen & Jordan Derue

Innisfallen and driver Jordan Derue won Sunday’s open trot in 1:57.2. The 6 year old by Explosive Matter is trained by Brett Derue.

Live racing at Saratoga Casino Hotel | Saratoga Springs, New York