The first three days of the Saratoga meeting are in the books, and of the two perennial leaders on the New York racing circuit, one is on fire while the other is surprisingly frigid.
It looked as if there would be a dogfight among the top jockeys at the Spa, with last year’s leader John Velazquez missing the first four days of the meeting recovering from a broken collarbone.
After Friday’s opening day, it did appear it would be an interesting battle, with Ramon Dominguez, Rosie Napravnik, Javier Castellano, and Joel Rosario each picking up two wins.
However, after Ramon Dominguez won with six of his seven mounts on Sunday, he goes into the second week of the meeting with nine winners from 19 mounts, six ahead of five jockeys who have three winners apiece.
Dominguez, who won the last two Eclipse Awards for outstanding jockey became just the second jockey in the 144 year history of Saratoga to ride six winners on a card.
The only other jockey to win six was John Velazquez, who accomplished the feat on Sept. 3, 2001, riding six winners from ten mounts.
The last jockey to ride six winners at a NYRA track was Corey Nakatani, who rode his six pack of winners at Belmont Park on Oct. 8, 2011.
Those backing Dominguez on Sunday were rewarded with payoffs of $14.00, $8.30, $2.90, $9.40, $6.90, and $8.20.
With Dominguez off to a dominant start, there are several high profile jockey’s that are off to a slow start. Among them are Julien Leparoux (1 for 16), Rajiv Maragh (1 for 21), and Junior Alvarado (1 for 16).
David Cohen, Shaun Bridgmohan, and Wilmer Garcia are a combined 0 for 30.
Javier Castellano, who was second in the jockey standings last summer and is my pick to win the title this year is off to a 2 for 25 start.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who set an all-time record at last summer’s Spa meeting with 38 winners is off to a frigid start this year, winning with just 1 of his 19 starters.
The winner came on Friday with first time starter Kauai Katie ($5.60) who won the fifth race. Since that win Pletcher has gone 0 for 15.
Ten of his losses have been with runners who have been 3-1 or lower. Napravnik was aboard the barn’s lone winner while Castellano, who was supposed to benefit the most from Velazquez being on the sidelines, is 0 for 12 riding for Pletcher.
With Pletcher off to a slow start, there have been 26 different trainers that have picked up a win at the meet after three days.
The only trainers that have picked up more than one win are Tony Dutrow (2 for 4), Chad Brown (2 for 12), George Weaver (2 for 5), Steve Asmussen (2 for 6), and Rudy Rodriguez (2 for 7).
High profile barn’s still looking for a win include Bill Mott (0 for 7), David Jacobson (0 for 7), and Gary Contessa (0 for 6).
Michael Dempsey provides his selections for Saratoga each racing day. Mike’s Best Plays Report is available each weekend, with his strongest plays and selections including the top stakes races.
Let’s head out to Saratoga for the Monday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 9 The Evan Shipman (5:30 ET)
7 Lunar Victory 7-2
6 Sailmate 4-1
2 Fiddlers Afleet 2-1
4 Johannesburg Smile 5-2
Analysis: Lunar Victory makes his first start since beating Alw-1 foes back in March in the mud on the inner track at the Big A, his third win in a row. The five year old was not really tested in any of his last three starts, but reportedly bled coming out of his last start and has been on the bench for 4 1/2 months. He is back with state breds here and the fact Mott brings him back in a stake here sure looks like a positive sign. The barn is 19% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff and he popped a bullet work over the training track here on July 20.
Sailmate beat state bred Alw-2 foes two back off a nine month layoff, then beat open Alw-1 company last out in a game effort going seven furlongs over a wet track. He now stretches back out to a route of ground here for the Kimmel barn. The colt was fourth here last summer at nine furlongs in the state bred Albany. The colt has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out and he looks primed for a good effort here in his third start off the bench.
Fiddlers Afleet stalked a sharp early pace from the rail and rolled in the stretch, drawing clear to win by 7 1/4 lengths going six furlongs in the Chasin Wimmin. The Jacobson barn claimed this guy for $40K and managed to get him to earn a career tops peed fig in his last outing. He is proven at nine furlongs and comes in here really sharp. He also has run well over the main track here but the price just looks light.
WIN: Lunar Victory to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 2,4,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 2,4,6,7 / 2,4,5,6,7