Catching Up: Round-Up of Saratoga Stakes Races

What else does one do on a rainy Saturday than work on some long, long, LONG overdue website updates?

Here, a collection of the stakes races I covered at Saratoga for Brisnet/TwinSpires–dreams come true for connections, along with the bittersweet and the poignant…

Grade 1 Spinaway–Sippican Harbor

Owner: Lee Pokoik

Trainer: Gary Contessa

Breeder: Justin Spaeth, Kalvert Spaeth & Equine Equity Partners, LLC

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Contessa: “She is just the coolest horse in the world, and today she stamped herself. She’s legit, and we’re looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup.”


NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Grade 1 Travers: Catholic Boy

Owners: Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables

Trainer: Jonathan Thomas

Breeders: Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding

Jockey: Javier Castellano

LaPenta: “I’ve been coming to Saratoga since I’m 18 years old. This race has always been my dream, even more than the Kentucky Derby. The ‘Mid-Summer Derby’ was always my dream.”

Grade 1 Forego: Whitmore and Grade 1 Ballerina: Marley’s Freedom

Whitmore owned by Robert LaPenta, Ron Moquett, and Head of Plains Partners; trained by Ron Moquett; bred by John Liviakis; ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.

Marley’s Freedom owned by Cicero Farms; trained by Bob Baffert; bred by Jack Swain III; ridden by Mike Smith.

“If you had a student that could handle Harvard, you’d put them in Harvard,” said owner Ron Perry about the trainer change for Marley’s Freedom. “If you thought Harvard would take them apart and break them down, you wouldn’t go there. We thought she could handle the best trainer in the world, and obviously she has.”

Grade 1 Alabama: Eskimo Kisses

Owners: Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck); Harold Lerner; Andrew Rosen; Nehoc Stables; Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek)

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Breeder: Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd.

Jockey: José Ortiz

“To win a race that’s so prestigious is mind-boggling to me,” said Lerner. “It’s a wonderful, fabulous, beautiful, sensational thing. There’s nothing like this at all.”


NYRA/Elsa Lorieul



Grade 3 Troy: Sandy’z Slew

Owner: James A. Riccio

Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart

Breeder: Robert Hahn

Jockey: José Ortiz

“He’s just a classy horse,” Riccio said, discussing the winner’s injury after the race, “and ‘Miah did a great job with him. This just stinks.”

Alydar Stakes: Realm

Owners: Eric Dattner, Barclay Tagg, and Harry Astarita

Trainer: Barclay Tagg

Breeder: Morgan’s Ford Farm

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

“It’s fun until it gets burdensome,” Tagg said of owning a horse. “We went though a couple of dry spells with him, and when you have one that you own part of, it’s tougher sometimes. But it’s better when this happens.”

Grade 1 Whitney: Diversify

Owners: Lauren Evans and Ralph Evans

Trainer: Rick Violette

Breeders: Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

“This belongs to Rick and (assistant trainer) Melissa [Cohen] and his crew,” said Ralph Evans. “This is in honor of all the people here and gone who indulged my passion for racing.”


Trophy presentation for the Grade 1 Whitney: Diversify and connections. NYRA photo

Grade 3 Shuvee: Farrell

Owner: Coffeepot Stables

Trainer: Wayne Catalano

Breeder: Coffee Pot Stable

Rider: Channing Hill

“…when I saw :24 and change, I was licking my chops,” said Catalano.

Grade 2 Jim Dandy: Tenfold

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Breeder: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

“He’s very young,” said Asmussen. “He doesn’t know how good he is, and he needs to start taking it seriously and make the most of it.”

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Curlin Stakes: Hofburg

Owner: Juddmonte Farms Inc.

Trainer: Bill Mott

Breeder: Juddmonte Farms Inc.

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

“I think the timing is right, and he’s had a race and a win over the track,” said Mott. “It gives the trainer some confidence. I don’t know if the horse needed it, but the trainer did.”


Grade 2 Honorable Miss: Finley’sluckycharm

Owner: Carl R. Moore

Trainer: Bret Calhoun

Breeder: Lakland Farm

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

“That was awesome,” declared Moore.

Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks: Monomoy Girl

Owners: Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group (Stuart Grant), and Bethlehem Stables

Trainer: Brad Cox

Breeder: FPF LLC & Highfield Ranch

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Bloodstock agent Liz Crow: “I could go the rest of my life and not have a horse this good, so I’m taking it all in. She means the world to us.”

Grade 3 Sanford: Sombeyay

Owner: Starlight Racing

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Breeder: J. D. Stuart & Mueller Farms, Inc.

Jockey: Javier Castellano

“I think in these early two-year-old races, experience is huge,” said Pletcher. “Having two starts compared to others with only one, I think that helped today.”


NYRA photo

Grade 3 Schuylerville: Catherinethegreat

Owner: John C. Oxley

Trainer: Mark Casse

Breeders: Wendy Christ & Kathie Haines

Jockey: José Ortiz

“I love the sire,” Oxley said, “and I could sense the enthusiasm in Mark’s voice, so I had, ‘You just buy her.’”


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