Alittlesidehustl N & Billy Dobson
The 7th annual Virginia O’Brien Memorial Pacing Series was a short one this year at Saratoga Casino Hotel. With only enough fillies and mares entered to comprise one leg, the series concluded with Monday’s Final which consisted of just four lady pacers. New Zealand invader Alittlesidehustl N (He’s Watching) has been a monster in her first season in the U.S. and came into the series a winner of four of her five local starts. In her race leading up to the O’Brien Series, the Jackie Greene-trained Alittlesidehustl N won by seven lengths and paced in a career-best 1:53.4. In the lone leg of the series, the four year old got up in the final stride to score in 1:54.1 to end the impressive win streak of rival Watermelon Sugar (Brian Cross) who wound up as the runner-up. On Monday, those two squared off once again in a four-horse series Final that went for a purse of $32,000 and drew posts one and two, respectively.
Alittlesidehustl N continued her trend of being the betting favorite of odds of 2-5 or less in each of her local starts as she was the public’s 2-5 choice in Monday’s Final when she sat the pocket to upset minded Zebs Watching (Jimmy Devaux). Watermelon Sugar (Brian Cross), the runner-up to Alittlesidehustl N in the lone leg of the series, charged hard at Zebs Watching around the final turn while longshot Allboutthematerial was unwinding on the outside for driver Wally Hennessey. Alittlesidehustl N got loose late in the stretch and surged up the passing lane. The favorite got up in time to score in 1:54.1 to move her seasonal record to six for eight while scoring the biggest victory of her young career. Allboutthematerial closed to finish second and complete an exacta that paid $25.40. Watermelon Sugar finished third while Zebs Watching rounded things out. Alittlesidehustl N is owned in partnership by the Kellogg Racing Stables and Jackie Greene Stables.
Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a 5PM first post.
Photo: Cheyanne Mandy
Rckaroundtheclock N & Greg Merton
Wednesday marked the conclusion of the sixth annual Virginia O’Brien Memorial Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The series for fillies and mares was highlighted by a dominant force as Rckaroundtheclock N (A Rocknroll Dance) brought her sensational win streak to the track as the big favorite in the $32,500 O’Brien Memorial Final. The Amanda Kelley trainee came into the Final with eight wins in nine starts this year since coming over from New Zealand during the offseason. Rckaroundtheclock N’s only defeat came at Yonkers Raceway this spring and not only has the mare not lost a race in about three months but heading into Wednesday, she hadn’t trailed at any quarter pole since suffering her rare defeat. Going coast-to-coast on a weekly basis, the five year old mare competed in her biggest race yet on Wednesday afternoon and she again proved up to the task.
Greg Merton has been the regular driver for Rckaroundtheclock N this year and the veteran reinsman was forced to change tactics with the star distaffer this week. Drawing post position seven in Wednesday’s Series Final, Rckaroundtheclock N again showed her characteristic early speed but with several leavers inside of her was forced to settle in mid-pack in the early going. After leader Clemmie Hanover (Brian Cross) got to the first quarter in 27.2, she backed things down a bit before reaching the half in 57.2. It was at that point when the 2-5 betting favorite made her move. Rckaroundtheclock N surged up first-over and attacked Clemmie Hanover who fended off the favorite for a while before succumbing to the pressure around the final turn. As Rckaroundtheclock N took the lead, though, leg-one winner American Chance (Jimmy Devaux) tipped off her cover and tried to gun the favorite down in the stretch. Those two went toe-to-toe before Rckaroundtheclock N and her “don’t take no for an answer” mentality kicked in and was the deciding factor. She stopped the timer in 1:55.4 to prevail in the $32,500 Final and complete the series’ sweep. American Chance was the runner-up and has now finished first or second in five consecutive starts. Clemmie Hanover, a leg two winner, earned the show spot. Rckaroundtheclock N’s odds of 2-5 were actually the highest she’s had attached to her in almost three months! She paid $2.90 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $5.30 and $8.80 in the chalky Series Final.
Rckaroundtheclock N, who is owned by the Scheigert Racing Stable of Saratoga Springs, NY, adds her name to the list of previous O’Brien Memorial winners which consists of Karla Art, Shesnobeachboy, Nashurallability, Maggies Way and Reflexionofroyalty. Merton and Kelley became the sixth different driver and trainer, respectively, to win the series in its history.
Live racing takes place every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Saratoga with first post times set for Noon.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino
Rckaroundtheclock N & Greg Merton
Wednesday’s matinee featured two divisions of the second leg of the Virginia O’Brien Memorial Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel on a day where the favorites thrived. Rckaroundtheclock N (A Rocknroll Dance) became the only pacing mare to become a two-leg winner as she coasted to a career-best victory for Greg Merton on Wednesday. Rckaroundtheclock N has never lost a race at Saratoga and she moved her local win streak to five-for-five after a career-best 1:53 wire-to-wire victory in leg two of the series. Rckaroundtheclock N has led at every pole in every race in her brief time at the Spa and on Wednesday, the rising star cruised through a first half in 56 seconds before registering a measured one length score with Merton at the controls. Rckaroundtheclock N bested fellow leg one winner American Chance (Jimmy Devaux) who finished second to the 1-9 betting favorite in the series’ second leg to complete a chalky $3.00 exacta. Rckaroundtheclock N is the series’ clear one to beat heading into next Wednesday’s Final, which will go for a purse of upwards of $30,000. The five year old mare is owned by the Scheigert Racing Stable of Saratoga Springs, NY and trained by Amanda Kelley.
The runner-up to Rckaroundtheclock N in leg one wound up as the 1-9 public choice in her division of leg two as Clemmie Hanover (Roll With Joe) rode a hot streak into Wednesday try in the $10,000 second leg of the O’Brien Memorial. Trainer Dave Byer, who co-owns Clemmie Hanover with Jerry Hoffman, saw his stable star thrive once again on Wednesday. The four year old distaffer marched out to an easy lead with Brian Cross piloting before clicking off a first half in 58.2. Never facing an anxious moment, Clemmie Hanover paced away from her rivals in the second half of the mile before reporting home in a seasonal-best 1:55.4. With her most recent victory, Clemmie Hanover now has three wins and two seconds in her last five starts and has secured her spot in next week’s Final. Like A Peach (Billy Dobson) sat the pocket and held on to be second to Clemmie Hanover in leg two while Special Olivia (Alek Chartrand) came on to be third.
Live racing resumes on Monday afternoon at Saratoga with first post time set for Noon.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino