Saratoga Casino Hotel Readies For Big Night

by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228

The 10th annual Gerrity Memorial Pace takes place at Saratoga Casino Hotel this evening and a field of eight has been assembled for the facility’s premier event of the year.  In addition to the Gerrity, the legendary Foiled Again, who recently won his 100th race, will run in the undercard.

The Gerrity, with a purse of $260,000 usually draws an excellent field.  This year’s field is very good, but not as great as year’s past.

“It’s better than average, but not as strong as we had in previous years,” said racing director P.J. Iovino, “but with Foiled Again here, we’re hoping that will bring out the crowd.”

Foiled Again will be honored with a blanket ceremony—win or lose—and he will face the always tough Artful Way in a conditioned race that features a purse of $9,500.

“Artful Way drew the one and Foiled Again the two,” said Iovino, “it might just turn into to a match race between these two.”

Foiled Again, who at 14 faces mandatory retirement after 2018, is the richest harness racehorse in history with over $7.5 million in earnings.  Iovino used some humor when writing the race.

Non winners of $7,500 last five starts, 8 pari-mutuel races or $90,000 lifetime.  Also eligible:  Winners of 100 races and $7,500,000

Iovino then called Foiled Again’s trainer, Ron Burke who was more than willing to send the veteran pacer to the “Little Spa,” for tonight’s race.

“He has run here before, twice in the Gerrity and last December, picked up win number 98 of his career,” Iovino said.  “Ron (Burke) is trying to get him to visit as many tracks as he can before the year is up.  We look forward to seeing him.”

Last year’s Gerrity was as good a race as you will ever see in harness racing.  With a stellar field, there was no holding back as the eight combatants really went at it.  When the smoke cleared, Bit of a Legend N took the honors and guess what?  He is back to defend his title.

Somewhere in LA is also back in the field.  Last year, he was one of the pacers who held a lead in the race, before fading in the stretch and finishing fourth.  He has been a bit of mystery this year.  He hasn’t run that well in recent races, but does have five wins in 2018.  A regular in Yonkers open handicaps, he sometimes loses interest, especially when he draws an outside post.  He has the five tonight, so that should keep him engaged.

The other returnee is Mach It So, last year’s runner up, who enters with over $160,000 in earnings this year.  He has four wins in 13 starts and will be driven by Jim Morrill, Jr.  He drew the always dreaded eight post, so we’ll see what kind of race Morrill chooses to drive with his talented horse.

It is an accomplished field.  The eight runners have combined for 34 wins this year, so they all know how to get to the winner’s circle.  Rockin Ron leads the field in earnings this year, with over $400,000 and he will be driven by Hall of Famer Yannick Gingras, who will also steer Foiled Again.

The field:

  • Missile J
  • Bit of a Legend
  • Killer Martini
  • Evenin of Pleasure
  • Somewhere in LA
  • Rockin Ron
  • Rodeo Romeo
  • Mach it So

The field is balanced; on paper, the defending champion has to be favored.  He loves to close, so it will be interesting to see who sets the pace on the half-mile oval.  Legend and Rockin Ron are the most accomplished, but I would not be surprised to see a big effort from Evenin of Pleasure, the feisty horse trained by Jenn Bongiorno and driven by brother Joe Bongiorno.

In addition to the Gerrity, there are several fine races on the card.  Included are three Sire Stakes for 3-year old colts and geldings; each with $59,100 purses; two New York Excelsior Series A races at $15,000 each as well as three $25,000 open handicaps and a nice winners of over $25,000 lifetime running for a purse of $20,000.

Post time for the 12 race card is 7:05 pm.

 

 

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