Friday, August 20, 2010

Saratoga Jockey Crown Up for Grabs

John Velazquez entered Friday the leading jockey at Saratoga, with 30 wins already in the books, four better than Javier Castellano, who is having an outstanding meet. Just behind loomed Ramon Dominguez, with 25 wins.

After taking the first race, aboard Go Go Pink ($9.80), Velazquez stretched his lead to five, but he would be shut out of the winner's circle the rest of the afternoon while Castellano racked up three more wins, bringing home Running Tap ($12.00) in the second, Star of New York ($7.60) in the 6th, and odds-on Straight Story ($4.10) in the 8th.

Dominguez tried his best to keep up, notching a pair of wins aboard Dance Floor Maniac ($6.30) in the 4th race and Deciphering Dreams ($5.70) in the 7th.

With Alan Garcia bringing home the late double with long-shot Mitigation ($45.20) in the 9th race and Such Time as This ($6.30) in the 10th for a card-closing double payout or $137, the three leading jocks had further separated themselves from the rest of the camp.

At 4th place in the standings, Julien Leparoux could muster only three third-place finishes, highlighted by longshot Million Seller, who completed a short-field trifecta at 1 1/8 miles with winner Miss Match (Garrett Gomez) and place horse Amazing (Edgar Prado). The payout for the 3rd race trifecta was a solid $167.00 from the five-horse field after McVictory and Nicksappealinglady were scratched.

The day's activity left Velazquez still on top with 31 wins, though Castellano gained in second place. His three wins put him at 29 for the meet. Carlos Dominguez remained in the hunt with 27 wins.

There are still 16 racing dates left to the 40-day Saratoga meet, and the competition for top jockey honors figures to be fierce among the three leaders.

Velazquez is named to ride only one favorite on Friday's 9-race card, the Todd Pletcher-trained Cadazzle, in the second race, a five furlong sprint for 2-year-old maiden fillies.

The feature race is the Yaddo Stakes to be run at 1 1/8 mile on the inner turf course. Twelve fillies and mares are entered, though #12, Big Brownie, is entered for the main track only. The field is led by 3-1 choice, Chestoria, trained by william Badgett and ridden by David Cohen. The three leading riders will be looking to make a splash with their rides, as they each are named atop horses whose morning lines are 8-1 or better. With Saratoga's reputation as the "graveyard of favorites," plunking down a couple of coins on Dominguez, Castellano and Velazquez's mounts might make for a profitable gambit.