The Spa Spot: Morning Breeze
Closing day at Saratoga is always bittersweet. There is relief that the 40-day season is over, but it is tempered by the understanding that it is the end of summer and the track won't re-open for another 45 weeks and a few days.
Six-plus weeks of racing six days a week is grueling. NYRA staged 20 more races to the lineup this year for a record 417.
The finale on Labor Day is an 11-race program, with seven on turf. The first post is at 12:30 p.m. and the last race is scheduled for 6 p.m.
- The 108th running of the Hopeful for 2-year-olds is the marquee event on the program. It was given a Grade 2 rating from the American Graded Stakes Committee late last year, but you would have to think that it would change back to a Grade 1 for 2013. The 2011 runners included the winner, Currency Swap, who has a Grade 2 win this year; runner-up Trinniberg, who has won three graded stakes this year; and the sixth-place finisher, I'll Have Another, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
This year's year's lineup of nine runners is led by the Starlight Racing entry of stakes winner Shanghai Bobby and the Lawn Man. Shanghai Bobby missed the Saratoga Special due to a minor illness. The Lawn Man broke his maiden by 4 1/2 lengths. Trainer Kelly Breen will saddle the entry of Sanford winner Bern Identity and Vegas No Show. Red-hot Godolphin sends out Fortify, a 6 1/4-length winner in his debut on August 11.
- Newly inducted Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield has sent two fillies down from Toronto for the Grade 3 Glens Falls, which precedes the Hopeful. The Glens Falls is at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf course for older fillies and mares. Attfield's Kissable won the Waya by four on August 6.
Shug McGaughey built his Hall of Fame resume on dirt, but these days he has a slew of good turf horses. Hit It Rich won the Grade 3 Orchid in March, placed in two Belmont stakes and has been training up a storm in Saratoga.