Depending on how you look at it, for horseplayers and fans, Saturday may have appeared like Christmas, particularly at Saratoga where longshots ruled the day, resulting in a Pick 6 carryover of $262,998 for Sunday. And, for the most part, it was the little guys who got it done.
The highlights: in race 4, Ramon Dominguez-ridden Sean Avery and Saratoga Lightning with Jorge Chavez up fleshed out a $370.55 exacta, while in race 6, Jean-Luc Samyn won on dirt with Heavenly Blaze ($51.50), followed up by Norberto Arroyo, Jr. in race 7 on Prince Dubai ($57.50). The longest longshot winner: 33-1 Telling ($68) in the G1 Sword Dancer, a race that saw huge payouts—$2 trifecta ($9,045) and $2 superfecta ($79,644)—when the early leaders set insane early fractions, allowing the grand old boys—Better Talk Now and Brass Hat—to close for second and third, with 26-1 longshot Gentleman Chester in fourth.
God, it was good to see 10-year-old Better Talk Now finish second, although my neighbors must think I’m crazy, as I screamed in vain for Ramon to get him up for the win. As a fan, though, I could only marvel at the results, and be happy for trainer Steve Hobby who earned his first G1 victory for owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, as well as good guys Graham Motion and William Bradley with their old warriors.
The trend continued, with Larry Jones-trained (and wife Cindy Jones-owned) filly Just Jenda trouncing a nice field in the G3 Monmouth Oaks. The race prior—the Continental Mile—saw the biggest upset of the day, with 107-1 longshot Two Notch Road (a 2-year-old VA-bred gelding making his first turf start after three disastrous dirt outings) paying $216.40 for the win for owner-trainer Glenn Thompson, under the skillful riding of jockey Shannon Uske.
No absentee corporate trainers, or easy-to-dislike sleazy owners. Just the typical hard-working horsemen and horsewomen who care for their beloved animals, and hard-working jockeys who may not be the first or second (or even third) choice for mounts, but still work hard every day.
It just makes you shake your head, smile, and say, “Good for them.”
Yeah, it was a good day.