By Stephen Andrus exclusively for HorseRacingInside.com…
According to the calendar, summer arrived one month ago. But in the world of horse racing, summer doesn’t arrive in New York until Saratoga race course, also known as ‘The Spa’, opens their gates to the bustling crowds.
This year, summer arrives on Friday, July 22nd, and from the looks of things, the racing action will be even hotter than the temperature. With 53 stakes races scheduled thus far, each with a purse of at least $75,000 and 35 of them being Graded, the 2011 Saratoga meet looks to be a sure winner.
Want some real proof? Take a look at the opening “feature” race. No, I don’t mean the Schuylerville Stakes, the traditional opening day feature for up and coming 2 year old fillies. I am talking about the James Marvin, an ungraded stakes for 3 year olds and up at 7 furlongs, that has attracted a field that would blow the doors off of most Grade I races at other tracks.
A field of 11 horses have been entered, accumulating a who’s who of top-notch winners. Among them is Aikenite, a multiple Graded stakes winner this year; Ravalo, a two time Graded sprint winner; Gayego, a five time stakes winner, including the Arkansas Derby and the Ancient Title; Here Comes Ben, who won the Grade I Forego here last summer; D’ Funnybone, a five time Grade II winner; Hamazing Destiny, 2nd in the Breeders Cup Sprint last year; and Jersey Town, winner of the Grade I Cigar Mile last year.
There is a reason all of these horses have come to Saratoga to race in a non-graded stakes. It’s called prestige. Winning a stakes race at Saratoga, Graded or otherwise, bestows you with honor and recognition. It puts you on the map. It fuels the people conversation about that horse. It generates a buzz. It means you showed up to race at the premier meet in America, you took on the best, and emerged victorious.
If this opening day race is any indication of what the 2011 Saratoga meet is going to be like, it is going to be one hot Summer at The Spa this year!
Don’t forget you can watch and bet all of Saratoga’s races by visiting http://www.horseracinginside.com/twinspires!