Alabama Stakes Set for August 15 at the Spa

 

The year 2020 will be the only time the Travers has been run before the Kentucky Derby and the only time The Alabama has been run before the Kentucky Oaks.

By Art Parker

Like the Travers Stakes, the Alabama Stakes is one of the great historic races held annually at Saratoga. Like the Travers it is run at 1 ¼ miles and usually one week before it. This year the Alabama will be run on August 15th, a week after the Travers due to COVID-19 rescheduling. The Alabama is restricted to three year old fillies.

walking horse through Saratoga crowdThe Alabama was first run in 1872 making it one of the oldest races for females in America and the longest continuously run stakes race for three year old fillies. The race is named in honor of William Cottrell of Alabama. The race is named in honor of the Confederate Captain who was heavily involved with thoroughbred racing and breeding before and after his service in the Civil War. When approached by the Saratoga Association in 1872 about having a race named in his honor, he declined and requested the race instead be named for his home state of Alabama. Cottrell used his activity in racing to help and mend relations between the North and the South after the Civil War.

While the Kentucky Oaks stands as the female version of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the Alabama is the female edition of the Travers Stakes, which is open to all 3-year-olds at Saratoga.

The great filly Go For Wand set the stakes record in 1990 for the Alabama at 2:00 4/5 minutes.

Jockeys Jorge Velasquez, Jerry D. Bailey and Mike Smith have all won five Alabama Stakes.

Many great fillies have won the Alabama such as:  Elate, Songbird, Royal Delta, Silverbulletday, Heavenly Prize, Sky Beauty, Open Mind, Shuvee, Gamely, Vagrancy and Beldame to name a few.

Only four fillies and have ever won the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama Stakes: Open Mind, Make Sail, Princess of Sylmar and Blind Luck.

The year 2020 will be the only time the Travers has been run before the Kentucky Derby and the only time The Alabama has been run before the Kentucky Oaks.

The purse for the 2020 Alabama is $600,000.

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Handicapping Tip #60 – Watch ’em and Learn

Historic Travers Stakes Set for August 8

by Art Parker

The Triple Crown races and The Breeders’ Cup provide the greatest amount of historical talk when it comes to American thoroughbred racing. When Saratoga rolls around every August a treasure trove of racing history is re-opened, and its importance is second to none.

Saratoga is known for many great graded stakes that always play a role in the various division championships. Of all the races at Saratoga there are two that stand out from the standpoint of importance and historical significance. These two races are the Grade One Travers and the Grade One Alabama. In some ways these races restricted to three year olds serve as the “Derby and the Oaks” at the Spa.

The Alabama will be a topic next week. For now, all eyes are on the Travers, which will be run August 8th.

The Travers is the signature event at Saratoga and has often been referred to as the “Mid-Summer Derby.” The inaugural running was in 1864 and was named for William R. Travers, the president of the old Saratoga Racing Association. It was only fitting that his horse won the first running of the Travers.

The Travers is run at the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles. The race has been run at different distances but the current distance has not changed since 1904.

Since 1961, the colors of the Travers winner have been painted onto a canoe which sits on a pond in the infield. The canoe itself has been a fixture at the track since 1926.

Only ten Kentucky Derby winners have won the Travers. There was a long drought of Derby winners being unsuccessful in the Travers beginning in 1943. Shut Out won the Derby and Travers in 1942 and it was 51 years before the feat was achieved again. Sea Hero broke the long drought in 1993.

Affirmed, American Pharoah, Gallant Fox and Whirlaway are the only Triple Crown winners to race in the Travers. Of the three only Whirlaway, in 1941, became the only Triple Crown legend to win the Travers. Affirmed crossed the finish line first in 1978 but was disqualified, and his arch rival Alydar was elevated to first.

Many claim the 1962 Travers was the best race ever. Jaipur won by a nose-bob in track record time over the arguably more talented Ridan after a long nose-to-nose battle over the entire race.

The biggest upset came in 1930 when Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox lost to a 100-1 shot named Jim Dandy. The winner is memorialized with a race named in his honor and is normally a prep race for the Travers. Due to changes caused by COVID-19, the Jim Dandy Stakes will be run after the Travers on September 5, the same day as the Kentucky Derby.

In 2012 Alpha and Golden Ticket finished in a dead heat for first place – the only dead heat in Travers history resulting in two winners. Two canoes were put in the infield pond to commemorate the winners.

In 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was in the race and was worn down in a speed duel with Frosted. Keen Ice passed the popular Triple Crown winner in a major upset.

In what was probably the best performance in Travers history, Arrogate destroyed the field by more than 13 lengths in 2016. The roan son of Unbridled’s Song is the only horse to eclipse the two minute mark and reported home in an eye-opening 1:59:36.

Some of the other greats to win the Travers are: Damascus, Point Given, Buckpasser, Thunder Gulch, Easy Goer, Forty Niner, Chief’s Crown, Gallant Man, Native Dancer and Man O’ War.

As of this moment, Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont Stakes, is the favorite for the 2020 Travers. The purse for the 2020 Travers is $1,000,000.

Where to Watch the Horse Races Live in Saratoga

Great Offtrack Places To Watch Live Racing At Saratoga Race CourseRacing City Brewing has the largest projection screen in the area at 23×14 feet along with several TVs, and their spacious building is excellent for social distancing. The kitchen is currently closed, but they will allow guests to bring food or order takeout. They will have beer, wine, cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, and small snacks available.

There is a $25 deposit to reserve the table, which is put towards the final bill. They will open at noon on all race days and plan to host watch parties on the weekends. Guests will be able to buy the Daily Racing Form, enroll in an online wagering account and fund their accounts for immediate use.

The Parting Glass

The Parting Glass opens daily at 11am ET and you can watch horse racing on their big screen while enjoying food and beer specials. Reservations are not necessary.

Horse Races Live At Saratoga:

National Museum of Racing Offers Online Educational Programs FREE

Saratoga_NatMuseumofRacing and HallofFame

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is offering a variety of online educational programming and social interaction for people of all ages.

These online programs include the popular Foal Patrol, #HistoryThroughArt and a downloadable 3rd Grade STEM packet.

Season 3 of Foal Patrol (www.foalpatrol.com) is in full swing, featuring six mares and the champion stallion Gun Runner. This one-of-a-kind interactive web project provides viewers a unique opportunity to learn about the breeding and foaling process and watch live as the mares give birth.

So far in Season 3, Magical World (Three Chimneys Farm, Versailles, Ky.), New Money Honey (Indian Creek Farm, Paris, Ky.), and Hall of Fame member Ashado (Gainsborough Farm, Versailles, Ky.) have delivered foals. Three more mares – Vaulcluse (Gainesway Farm, Lexington, Ky.), Alpine Sky (Old Tavern Farm, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), and Emotional Kitten (Denali Stud, Paris, Ky.) – are participating in Season 3 and their progress can be viewed on their individual pages.

In addition to the live cameras, Foal Patrol Season 3 features an educational blog, information on horse anatomy and pedigree, horse behavior, nutrition, and links to racing industry resources.

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AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – Aug. 26

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGameofskill.com visitors

August 26th Edition

DEL MAR

WARREN’S SHOWTIME (Race 1 @DMR, August 21, 2019) How much was the best was this favorite in the opening race?  The turf runner was blocked badly on the far turn until the top of the stretch, but when an opening finally occurred, the 2yo daughter of Clubhouse Ride exploded with a strong run to draw off.   Has a future on the lawn for trainer Craig Lewis.

SARATOGA

SOMBEYAY (Race 7 @SAR, Aug. 2, 2019) – Pletcher runner relished the switch to firm turf (off yielding in prior) and the stretch out to one mile.  3yo ran huge, looking like a winner in deep stretch before getting nailed by a determined Casa Creed.  This guy should be super tough in 6f to 8f turf stakes on firm ground.

HAPPEN (Race 9 @SAR, Aug. 2, 2019) – Euro import  for O’Brien had no chance facing the likes of Concrete Rose when allowed a ridiculously slow pace up front.  War Front filly showed class overseas and deserves another look in a reasonable spot.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – Aug. 13

Saratoga canopy walk throughAGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGameofskill.com visitors

August 13th Edition

SARATOGA

CLEON JONES (Race 1 @SAR, July 28, 2019) – Expensive two year old in training purchase looked beat turning for home but unleashed a powerful late run (12.1) to not only get up but be drawing off impressively at the wire.  Tale Of The Cat 2yo could be a stakes runner for Englehardt.

FREAKY STYLEY (Race 1 @SAR, July 24, 2019) – Trainer Jorge Abreu had this firster ready to go in debut but he broke slowly (spotted 1 1/2 lengths to field) out of the gate.  Despite the tough 7 furlong distance he rallied well to finish 2nd to the winning Chad Brown horse.

IRISH MIAS (Race 6 @SAR, July 24, 2019) – 2yo son of Sky Mesa finished very well in debut and was the only threat to the gate-to-wire winning favorite.  This was on dirt, but his dam loved the turf and he is a half to a turf winner of over $90k.

ROMANTIC PURSUIT (Race 10 @SAR, July 28, 2019) – Maiden winner tracked the pace and took over turning for home.  In the final 1/8th she was super game to hold off several challengers.  Well-bred filly for Godolphin has a future.

SHENNAN (IRE) (Race 4 @SAR,  July 25, 2019) – Foreign invader for Mark Casse was likely compromised by the slow pace and heavy downpour conditions.  Given strong Euro form in Ireland, this well bred colt deserves another chance against similar.

PUTTHEGLASSDOWN (Race 8 @SAR, July 27, 2019) – PA bred son of Violence broke open the gate prior to the start. He finished very well in this 6 furlong 1x behind the speedy Jason Servis runner who helped set the pace.  Has run very well in all three Saratoga starts.

KEOTA (Race 1 @SAR, July 31, 2019) – This Lonhro filly was overbet off the claim by Jason Servis for Michael Dubb.  She stayed in after the race was taken off the turf but she despises the main track.  Look for her back on the grass in her second start for Servis.

MASCHA (FR) (Race 7 @SAR, July 31, 2019) – Margin of victory was deceptive as this Chad Brown import was much the best in this 1x entry level allowance.  Ran a close second to Homerique overseas and that one is a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 placed for Brown in the States.

KLICKITAT (Race 10 @SAR, Aug. 1, 2019)- ran second to a stakes-placed turf runner in career debut, running a big 2yo fig, and finally got back on the grass her 10 months later.  Making first start for Jerkens, the 3yo just missed late to a logical winner that dropping in from open company.  Major contender next time out at same level.

History, excitement and food. A perfect trifecta at Saratoga Racetrack

Saratoga_NatMuseumofRacing and HallofFame

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Going to Fenway Park and the Baseball Hall of Fame is a treat that all baseball fans should try to do during the summer months. If you are a horse racing fan, […]

My advice: Set aside a day and take the 3 1/2-hour ride to Saratoga. You can drive yourself or take advantage of the bus tours offered in the area.

Go up early and spend a few hours at the Hall of Fame and rewatch some of the classic races, such as Secretariat’s 31-length victory at the 1973 Belmont Stakes, which secured “Big Red” winning the sport’s first Triple Crown in 25 years.

After enjoying your stay at the Hall of Fame, head one mile to the track and take in the eclectic surroundings that make Saratoga so unique.

Horse players come in all shapes and sizes. Wealthy people dressed as though they just walked off the set of “The Great Gatsby” or the everyman hoping to cash in on a five-figure superfecta. The concessions are outstanding to hold you over until you head out to a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants in the area.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – August 2

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for AGameofskill.com visitors

SARATOGA

SHE’S A JULIE (Race 13 @SAR, July 21, 2019) – This honest filly from the Asmussen barn spotted weight to the top two finishers but held on well for third in this Grade 1 stakes.  She can dangerous next time in a better spot.

BLUE GEM (Race 1 @SAR, July 21, 2019) – 3yo looked really good winning first time off the claim for trainer Steve Asmussen, who dropped him from 30k to 16k.  Should be able to take a logical step up in class next time out.

OFF THE RECORD (Race 7 @SAR, July 17, 2019) – Firster took a lot of money and ran to it.  Son of Distorted Humor was very professional coming up the rail to win going away in this off-the-turf maiden special weights event.  Brisset barn doesn’t usually have them cranked up first time out.

MY SASSY SARAH (Race 10 scr @SAR, July 17, 2019) – Michelle Nevin firster was scratched when this race was taken off the turf.  She is a half to two nice turf winners, and the dam won on the grass as well.  Granddaughter of War Front should love the sod.

SHANCEALOT (Race 11 @SAR, July 28, 2019) – Juice.

LUCKY MOVE (Race 3 @SAR,  July 25, 2019) – Marshall Gramm’s Ten Strike Racing runner was claimed two back and then shipped to New York to take advantage of the lucrative state-bred program.  The mare rewarded this smart move with a powerful, off-the-pace victory in this 1x, optional $25k race.  Loves 9 furlongs and can be a threat at the next level.

DEL MAR

NOLDE (Race 8 @DMR, 7/17/2019) – Son of Pioneerof The Nile is a strong closer on the grass for trainer John Shireffs.  Sophomore colt just missed to favorite in the Oceanside Stakes on opening day.

ORIGINAIRE (IRE) (Race 7 @DMR 7/18/19) – Zoffany colt was squeezed back at the start of this race, but recovered under Mike Smith to unleash a big late run and score with something still left in the tank.   Impressive.

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes – July 22

AGOS Horses to Watch & Trip Notes for Agameofskill.com visitors

SARATOGA

MORNING GOLD (Race 1 @SAR, July 14, 2019) – Ken McPeek firster came in off a solid work pattern and ran a big race when 2nd to the Pletcher-trained favorite.  5 lengths clear of the show horse in a rock solid debut.

BLAME THE CAKE (Race 4 @SAR, July 14, 2019) – Firster for Ian Wilkes (7% win, 19% itm) was a $190,000 Ocala purchase.  Made a big run to take the lead and looked like a winner in deep stretch when he got run down by a sharp Jason Servis firster that was given a brilliant ride by Irad Ortiz.

CATCH A BID (Race 8 @SAR, July 14, 2019) – This is a rising star for Chad Brown.  Her career debut was awesome and then she ran a big 2nd here to a Grade-3 placed runner in Varenka, while well clear of the show horse.   Could be a very solid multi-race key next time she runs.

WINIFRED J (Race 2 @SAR, July 13, 2019) – Ed Barker filly likely needed race in her first start since early February. This was a tough spot but she ran a good third.  She’s a half to one winner, who was a grass horse.  Look for this Blame filly back on the turf, sprinting or on the stretch-out.

DECORATED INVADER (Race 6 @SAR, July 13, 2019) – Looked sharp when finishing 2nd in debut for West Point and partners.  Clement runner is a half to two turf winners and he was up against it facing a very slow pace in this race.

CHURCHILL DOWNS

BASIN (race 1 @CD, June 14, 2019) – This talented 2yo from the Steve Asmussen barn ran a strong 2nd in a key race field, losing by a nose to G3 Sanford winner By Your Side.   Was 3-4 wide throughout but finished strong.

Download the 9 Keys to Beating Saratoga

“I’m not a horse racing fan” – Another Reason to Dislike Cuomo

Cuomo explains his Saratoga absence

ALBANY — There appears to be a simple answer behind Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s absence from the Saratoga Race Course: He would rather spend his time elsewhere.

Asked Monday morning about the Times Union’s story last week detailing his decision not to visit the “summer place to be,” the governor stressed his support for the New York Racing Association, which operates racing at Saratoga, Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack …

But as to a possible visit, he said, “I’m not a horse racing fan, per se.”

On opening day at the track last week, Cuomo was participating in the 2019 Catskill Challenge Motorcycle Ride.