Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Top 5 Saratoga Race Course Races of the Meet

Labor Day brings the end to the 2013 season at Saratoga Race Course.

As has been the case in the past, the 150 year old oval has seen some memorable moments during the course of the 2013 meet.  Here's our pick for the top 5 moments from 2013 at the Spa as we enter closing weekend

5 - Wise Dan, Fourstardave (G2)
The reigning Horse of the Year recipient came to the Fourstardave Handicap on Saturday, August 10th, looking to remain strong on his path to the Breeder's Cup Mile.

Carrying 12 pounds more than the competition, Wise Dan did not disappoint his backers through a stretch drive gaining on front-running King Kreesa.  Wise Dan's win was his 8th in a row, and 13th out of 15 starts.  

4 - Brazen Persuasion & Bahnah, Schuylerville (G3)
Six furlongs wasn't enough as these two 2 year old fillies hit the wire together in a head-bob finish on opening day of the 2013 Saratoga Race Course meet.  

Yes Liz was trying to set up the race for her stablemate, Elena Strikes, by dueling with Brazen Persuasion through the race's opening 3 furlongs.  As Yes Liz tired, Elena Strikes started to give chase, but Brazen Persuasion still had something left in the tank.

Bahnah then caught up to the pace-setter, entering a head-bob duel to the wire.  But at the wire, Bahnah was unable to stick enough head in front, as the photo showed both horses touching the wire together for the dead heat.

3 - Laughing, Diana (G1)
Laughing survives many challenges in the Grade I Diana.
Laughing turned aside her early duelers, then won the race to the wire with Stephanie's Kitten and Dream Peace trying to catch the 5 year old Mare.  The win would be Laughing's second win of 2013.  She would later go on to win the Ballston Spa Cup (G2) on the Travers Day undercard, narrowly beating a late-closing Pianist by a neck.

2 - Cross Traffic, Whitney (G1)
Cross Traffic goes wire-to-wire for his first Graded Stakes victory.

After a tough break resulted in a second place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park, Cross Traffic proved that he deserves to play with the Grade I horses with a front-running victory piloted by John Velazquez.

Cross Traffic saw some pressure late by Successful Dan, but was able to hold on by 3/4 lengths at the wire. Last year's winner, Fort Larned, was unable to duplicate his success from the previous year and finished a disappointing 5th.

1 - Will Take Charge, Travers (G1)
The Travers and Whitney always provide great races, and it's always tough to choose between the two when it comes to one of the best races of the Spa meet.  Last year it was easy - Alpha and Golden Ticket's dead heat made the Travers the best race of the 2012 meet.

This year's nod goes to the Travers because of yet another exciting finish, this time thanks to Moreno, Orb and Will Take Charge.  The latter of the three was sitting three lengths back at the 1/16th pole, then gained a strong surge that allowed him to pilot past Moreno and Orb, winning the photo by a well-defined nose.

Will Take Charge came into the race after an inspiring 2nd place finish in the Jim Dandy (G2), finishing 2nd behind Palace Malice. The win was his second graded stakes win, coming in the Rebel (G2) back in March at Oaklawn Park.  Will Take Charge ran all three races of the Triple Crown, however faring no better than 7th in the Preakness.

With a strong lineup of races this weekend, it's possible any of the remaining 45 races could knock off these 5.  But entering closing weekend, these five are prime examples of why Saratoga Race Course is the Summer Place to Be.

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