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The New York Racing Association


LIVE RACING RETURNS TO BELMONT PARK ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. FIRST POST IS 1:05 PM.

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#SpaStars

There are so many fantastic horses throughout the 150 year history of Saratoga Race Course. We are thrilled to be able to honor some of them on items for fans for the 2013 season - a giveaway beer stein and limited edition trading cards. There are so many others we would like to highlight throughout the meet. and look for #SpaStars for a chance to win prizes each day! You can also check back here to see a new horse added each racing day!

 

Kentucky
B. colt, 1861-1875, Lexington - Magnolia, by Glencoe

spastars_kentucky
Painting by Edward Troye
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame image

Breeder: John Clay
Owner: John Hunter, William Travers, and George Osgood
Trainer: A.J. Minor

Though we now know Kentucky as a Hall of Fame member, the colt was actually the third choice in the wagering for the first edition of the Travers. A colt named Tipperary was the heavy favorite. He led for much of the 1 3/4 mile race, but Kentucky took over turning for home and finished full of run to win by four lengths. Back at four, the bay colt was regarded as a "foregone conclusion" in the Saratoga Cup, winning by an easy length. He added another Saratoga Cup at five, his nineteenth in what would be a twenty race win streak.

 

 

 


Parole
B
r. gelding, 1873-1903, Leamington - Maiden, by Lexington

spastars_parole
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame image

Breeder: Aristides Welch
Owner: Pierre Lorillard
Trainer: William Brown

Hall of Famer Parole found success  early at Saratoga,  particularly noteworthy since he was still winning stakes races at the age of  eight. Wins in the in the Saratoga Stakes and Kentucky Stakes at two confirmed  him as the best juvenile of his year. In further years he would take the  Sequel, All Ages, Summer and a pair of Saratoga Cups. The gelding, derided as a  “Yankee Mule” when shipped to compete in Europe,  was called “fast and trustworthy” by The New York Times. It was the Times he  lived up to, winning stakes races overseas and retiring as the leading money  earner to that time.

 

 

 


Miss Woodford
B
r. filly, 1880-1899, Billet – Fancy Jane, by Neil Robinson

spastars_misswoodford
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame image

Breeder: Woodford & Clay
Owner: Bowen & Company (2), Phil & Mike Dwyer (3-6)
Trainer: James G. Rowe, Sr., Frank McCabe (5)
Jockey: J. McLaughlin

The first thoroughbred to top the $100,000 threshold was a filly, Miss Woodford. The brown filly took the Spinaway as a two-year-old before being acquired by Brooklyn heavyweights Phil and Mike Dwyer. She would go on to star at Saratoga in the Misses’ and Alabama. The latter, The New York Times wrote, “the further Miss Woodford went the wider became the gap between the filly and her pursuers.” The race was part of an impressive sixteen race win streak that included victories over the best males of her era.

 

 

 


Sysonby
B. colt, 1902-1906, Melton – Optime, by Orme

spastars_sysonby
Keeneland-Cook
Keeneland Library image

Breeder: Marcus Daly
Owner: James R. Keene
Trainer: James G. Rowe, Sr.
Jockey: Redfern (2), Nicol (3)

Near-perfect Sysonby exceeded the expectations of his early beginnings as a small, plain colt. In fact, he was a bit of foul play away from an undefeated career and was called “possibly the greatest race horse of the American turf,” by The New York Times at the time of death. He was perfect at Saratoga, taking the Flash and Saratoga Special at two. When the popular bay returned at three in the Great Republic, the Times called it, “the greatest day ever seen at the Union Avenue Park of the Saratoga Association for the Improvement of the Breed of Horses.” Sysonby didn’t let the fans down. The win was “tremendously popular,” with “prolonged cheering.” “Handkerchiefs fluttered in the hands of women, while hats and canes filled the air,” as the crowd of at least 20,000 cheered their star.

 


Colin
Br. colt, 1905-1932, Commando – Pastorella, by Springfield

spastars_colin
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame image

Breeder: James R. Keene
Owner: James R. Keene
Trainer: James G. Rowe, Sr.
Jockey: Walter Miller

Colin arrived at Saratoga with a five-for-five record… and a cough. He didn’t let that slow him. His victory over the previously unbeaten Uncle in the Saratoga Special was called “one of the most remarkable races ever run,” by The New York Times. He was called, “The Public Idol,” and “the most interesting horse on the American turf,” following his win. He came back just four days later to take the Grand Union Hotel Stakes, giving fifteen pounds to the runner-up. Colin never did lose, retiring fifteen-for-fifteen. His trainer, who conditioned over thirty champions, held him in such high esteem that he reportedly said he hoped his epitaph simply read, “He trained Colin.”

 


Roamer
B. gelding, 1911-1920, Knight Errant – Rose Tree II, by Bona Vista

spastars_roamer
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame image

Breeder: Clay Brothers
Owner: A. Miller
Trainer: A. J. Goldsborough
Jockey: G. Byrne (2), J. Butwell (3-6), F. Robinson (7), A. Schuttinger (7)

Incredibly popular and called “game to the core,” by The New York Times, Roamer’s lengthy career, largely for owner Andrew Miller and trainer A. J. Goldsborough, included nine Spa wins, including the Saratoga Special, Travers, Saratoga Cup, and three Saratoga Handicaps. On August 21, 1918, in a race against the clock, he was the first to break the 1:35 barrier for one mile. For the effort, he “received an ovation such as…had never been accorded to a horse before.”

 

 


Top Flight
Dk. br. filly, 1929-1949, Dis Donc – Flyatit, by Peter Pan

spastars_topflight
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame image

Breeder: H. P. Whitney
Owner: C. V. Whitney
Trainer: Tom J. Healy
Jockey: R. Workman

Top Flight’s brilliant two-year-old year for C. V. Whitney and Tom Healey was one for the ages. Unquestionably the best of either gender, her resume included impressive wins in the Saratoga Special and Spinaway. Her brilliance allowed her to shed a yearling image as a “scrawny little miss…with no great prospects,” according to The New York Times. Top Flight returned to Saratoga at three to romp in the Alabama with regular rider Sonny Workman up.

 

 

 


Granville
B. colt, 1933-?, Gallant Fox – Gravita, by Sarmatian

spastars_granville
Keeneland-Cook
Keeneland Library image

Breeder: Belair Stud
Owner: Belair Stud
Trainer: “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons
Jockey: Jimmy Stout

The very first Horse of the Year secured his title largely due to a terrific Saratoga summer. Granville ran three times at the Spa as a three-year-old, winning each one. His tendency to expend as little energy as possible while winning was on display in the Kenner. The son of Gallant Fox cut it close again in a muddy Travers, avenging his sire’s infamous loss in the race. His final race of the summer came against just one – a head-to-head match with the older Discovery in the Saratoga Cup. Younger Granville “amazed” the crowd, according to The New York Times, coasting to an eight length win.

 

 


Eight Thirty
Ch. colt, 1936-1965, Pilate – Dinner Time, by High Time

spastars_eightthirty
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame image

Breeder: George D. Widener
Owner: George D. Widener
Trainer: W. F. Mulholland
Jockey: Harry Richards, Don Meade

The most prominent two-year-old at Saratoga in the summer of 1938 was El Chico, but that didn’t stop Eight Thirty from making his presence known. The chestnut colt set a stakes record in the prestigious Flash Stakes and was unpopularly disqualified from victory in the Albany.. He was even better at three. Facing older horses in the Wilson Mile, he set another stakes record, propelling him into discussions regarding the best of his crop. Just a few days later, he beat his elders again, taking the Saratoga Handicap. Johnstown, viewed as his chief rival, was scratched from the Travers, leaving Eight Thirty as an overwhelming favorite who didn’t disappoint. Although he was originally expected to rest following the win, he instead made his fourth start of the meet. It was another victory, as he rolled in the Whitney as the meet’s heaviest favorite.

 


Elkridge
B. gelding, 1938-1961, Mate – Best by Test, by Black Toney

spastars_elkridge
1948 North American Handicap
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Joseph F. Flanagan
Owner: Kent Miller
Trainer: Kent Miller
Jockey: H. Cruz (4), J. Penrod (4), FD Adams (8, 12-13), J. Rich (10)

There is no horse in the Hall of Fame with more starts than Elkridge. It’s not surprising the “King of the ‘Chasers” made several of his 123 appearances at Saratoga. The durable gelding, who retired as steeplechasing’s leading money earner, had an inauspicious start to his relationship with the Spa, losing his rider in the Shillelah at four. No matter – he collected his first Spa win in his next start. His final Saratoga win would come an amazing eight years later at the age of twelve. He won the Saratoga Handicap, Shillelah, and three North Americans for owner-trainer Kent Miller.

 

 


Busanda
Blk. filly, 1947 - ?, War Admiral – Businesslike, by Blue Larkspur

spastars_busanda
1951 Saratoga Cup
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Ogden Phipps
Owner: Ogden Phipps
Trainer: “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons
Jockey: Eric Guerin, Ted Atkinson

Coal black Busanda wasn’t the most consistent horse around, winning only ten of her sixty-five lifetime starts. She was, however, a big fan of the Spa. The first noteworthy victory of her career came when she upset the field in the Alabama. She had the best year of her life at four, a year that included a wire-to-wire win in the Saratoga Cup. At five she went one better. Not only did she defeat the boys in the Saratoga Cup again, but she added the prestigious Diana to her resume. Of course, her most famous accomplishment was still to come – producing the Hall of Famer Buckpasser.

 

 


Battlefield
Ch. colt, 1948 - ?, War Relic – Dark Display, by Display

spastars_battlefield
1950 Hopeful
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: John A. Bell, Jr.
Owner: G. D. Widener
Trainer: W. F. Mulholland
Jockey: Eddie Arcaro (2, 3), Eric Guerin (2), B. Green (4)

Anyone purchasing a yearling at the Saratoga Sales hopes to be back the following year to win a race at the historic track across the street. $4,500 yearling purchase Battlefield made those dreams come true. The best of his age at two, the chestnut colt took the Saratoga Special and Hopeful on the way to being crowned champion. He came back to the Spa at three to add the Travers trophy to his collection. In front of a record crowd, his battle with Yildiz through the final stages, “provided plenty of excitement,” according to The New York Times. When Battlefield crossed the wire in front, it pushed his earnings to nearly $350,000.

 

 


Tempted
Ch. filly, 1955 - ?, Half Crown – Enchanted Eve, by Lovely Night

spastars_tempted
1959 Diana
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Christiana Stables
Owner: Mooring Stable
Trainer: H. S. Clark
Jockey: Eldon Nelson (4-5), Bobby Ussery (3)

When Tempted went to post on closing day in 1958, she had never won a stakes race. That was about to change. The chestnut bounded out to the early lead in the Alabama and never looked back as 3-4 A Glitter faded to tenth. She came back at four, the year she was named champion older female, to take the Diana by 5 ½ lengths. The following year, it would be understandable not to back the mare in the same race. She had been well-beaten in her prior two starts. It didn’t matter. Tempted scored a “smashing,” victory, as described by The New York Times, rolling home by seven. By then, the same paper had noticed what we’re pointing out, adding simply, “Tempted likes Saratoga.”

 


Quick Pitch
Ch. gelding, 1960 - 1983, Charlevoix – The Ghizeh, by Questionnaire

spastars_quickpitch
1967 Bushwick Handicap
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: F. P. Ryan
Owner: F. P. Ryan
Trainer: E. B. Ryan
Jockey: L. Gilligan (3), J. Sellers (3), H. Grant (4), J. Combest (5-6), J. Mahoney (7)

F. P. and E. B. Ryan’s Quick Pitch is a fairly unique horse in Saratoga history. He was a good flat horse who made his Spa debut as a three-year-old. He ran four times that summer, with a win a three seconds, including a narrow defeat in the Saratoga Cup. The chestnut returned at four, setting a track record the same year he was DQ’d from a Seneca win. At five he won the Bernard Baruch, beating a champion, while at six he took an allowance. In twelve flat starts here, on dirt and turf, he finished worse than second only once. When his age started to show on the flat, his connections tried something new. At seven, he became the country’s best hurdle horse. His brilliant 18-length Lovely Night Handicap win, according to Sports Illustrated, demoted Damascus’s 22-length Travers win the following day to the week’s “second-largest round of applause.” The 170lbs Quick Pitch carried, 20-40 more than the rest, was the most carried by any winning American hurdler in history. The big chestnut “with a wild white eye and a fighting, kicking disposition,” called “bold and quick” by his trainer didn’t just win… he took nearly three seconds off the track record. Even in retirement, the gelding would make the trip to Saratoga for a summer vacation from his Virginia home.

 


Buckpasser
B. colt, 1963-1978, Tom Fool – Busanda, by War Admiral

spastars_buckpasser
1966 Travers
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Ogden Phipps
Owner: Ogden Phipps
Trainer: W. C. Winfrey, Eddie Neloy
Jockey: Braulio Bazea

Ogden Phipps’ Buckpasser was bred for Saratoga success. Between them, his parents had nine stakes wins at the Spa and his dam was discussed earlier in this series. The Winfrey and later Neloy trainee made them proud. Regular rider Braulio Baeza guided the handsome colt to victory in the Hopeful and Travers. The former was part of a two-year-old campaign that set a record for juvenile earnings. The latter, in which he broke the track record, was ninth in what would become a fifteen race win streak. His victory pushed him over the million dollar mark in earnings, making him the youngest to reach the milestone at the time.

 

 


Damascus
B. colt, 1964-1995, Sword Dancer – Kerala, by My Babu

spastars_damascus
1967 Travers
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Mrs. Thomas Bancroft
Owner: Mrs. Thomas Bancroft
Trainer: Frank Whiteley, Jr.
Jockey: Bill Shoemaker

Damascus only made one start at Saratoga, but he made it count. Despite rain, then the second-largest crowd in Saratoga history turned out. As The New York Times pointed out in predicting the large crowd, the reason was obvious, “the fans will want to see a great horse in action.” The late-running colt fell far back early, trailing by sixteen at the first call. There was no reason to worry. He caught them. He passed them. And he kept going. Damascus’s 22-length margin of victory remains a Travers record.

 

 

 


Happy Intellectual
Dkb./br. gelding, 1966 - ? , Wolfram – Bright n’ Gay, by Citation

spastars_happyintellectual
1978 New York Turf Writers Cup
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Mrs. Ogden Phipps
Owner: Mrs. Ogden Phipps
Trainer: D. M. Smithwick
Jockey: C. Elser (10), J. Aitcheson (11), W. Martin (12)

The prestigious New York Turf Writers Cup is the highlight of the steeplechase season at Saratoga. Only one horse has won it three times - Happy Intellectual. One would think a streak like that would start young, but “Happy” didn’t pick up his first until he was ten. At eleven, he carried the great Joe Aitcheson to victory in what would be the Hall of Famer’s final stakes win. Aitcheson was retired by the following summer, but the old gelding was back. Happy Intellectual took his third straight New York Turf Writers Cup at the grand old age of twelve.

 

 

 


Arts and Letters
Ch. colt, 1966 -1998, Ribot – All Beautiful, by Battlefield

spastars_artsandletters
1969 Travers
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Rokeby Stable
Owner: Paul Mellon
Trainer: Elliot Burch
Jockey: Braulio Baeza

Hall of Famer Arts and Letters had an inauspicious start to his career and relationship with Saratoga, tiring to fourth in his debut. Things got better from there. He returned to the Spa at three off of consecutive wins in the Met Mile and Belmont Stakes. He started his summer with a ten length win in the Jim Dandy, called an “unqualifiedly impressive showing” by The New York Times. The 100th Travers, the first worth as much as $100,000, was next. The largest crowd of the year was reportedly “pleased and entertained” by the record-tying victory by the “idol of the thoroughbred world.”

 

 

 


Key to the Mint
B. colt, 1969-1996, Graustark – Key Bridge, by Princequillo

spastars_keytothemint
1972 Travers
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Rokeby Stable
Owner: Paul Mellon
Trainer: Elliot Burch
Jockey: Braulio Baeza

Very, very few dual-Classic winners have been denied champion three-year-old honors. Riva Ridge is one of them, and Key to the Mint’s Saratoga summer is among the reasons why. The three-year-old kicked off his meet in style with a “remarkably easy,” win in the Whitney, as described by The New York Times. Braulio Baeza said “he ran a corking race,” to leave the field of older horses behind. He came back in the Travers with another terrific effort. “A more fitting setting for the remarkable performance of the Rokeby colt could not have been found,” wrote the Times, detailing, “Perfect weather attracted the largest crowd in the history of Saratoga racing.”

 

 


Ruffian
Dkb./br. filly, 1972-1975, Reviewer – Shenanigans, by Native Dancer

spastars_ruffian
1974 Spinaway
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Mr. & Mrs. Stuart S. Janney, Jr.
Owner: Locust Hill Farm
Trainer: Frank Whiteley, Jr.
Jockey: Vincent Bracciale, Jr.

Perhaps no one made a greater impression in a single Saratoga start than Ruffian. Her Spinaway was the fastest six furlongs by a two-year-old in 111 years of Spa history. The 1:08 3/5 also bettered the stakes record, which had been set on the old Widener straight at Belmont in 1945. Ruffian’s margin of victory was also noteworthy. She finished 12 ¾ lengths in front of Laughing Bridge, who had already won two stakes races at the meet. With the bulk of her career still ahead of her, Ruffian left major publications looking for adjectives. The New York Times opted for “majestic…magnificent,” and “the wonder filly.” SI called her “unbelievable,” “astonishing,” “effortless,” and described her as “striding gracefully … with almost ridiculous ease.” It was “one of those rare events that racegoers treasure forever,” detailed the great Whitney Tower. Perhaps the greatest praise came from Lucien Laurin, who said, “As God is my judgment, this filly may be better than Secretariat!”


Fio Rito
Gr. colt, 1975-1996, Dreaming Native – Seagret, by Sea Charger

spastars_fiorito
1981 Whitney
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Raymond LeCesse
Owner: Raymond LeCesse
Trainer: Michael S. Ferraro
Jockey: Leslie Hulet

Fio Rito won the Albany as a three-year-old at Saratoga. He also won allowances here at four and five. That pales in comparison to his fifth start at the Spa. Facing horses from connections like Paul Mellon and Ogden Phipps, the Finger Lakes shipper became the very first New York-bred to win a Grade 1 race. The six-year-old gray with an attitude was, as Steven Crist wrote for The New York Times, “a dream come true for upstate breeders and racing fans.”

 

 

 


General Assembly
Ch. colt, 1976 – 2005, Secretariat – Exclusive Dancer, by Native Dancer

spastars_generalassembly
1979 Travers
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Bertram & Diane Firestone
Owner: Bertram R. Firestone
Trainer: LeRoy Jolley
Jockey: Darrel McHargue (2), Jacinto Vasquez

General Assembly was Saratoga perfection. In four starts at the Spa, the chestnut was never defeated. In the process, he took home trophies from some of the meet’s most prestigious races and set a track record which still stands. At two, the LeRoy Jolley trainee set a stakes record in the Saratoga Special before wowing the crowd in the Hopeful. The following year, he used an allowance victory to prep for the Travers. His fifteen length win in 2:00 set a stakes and track record in addition to cementing his love of Saratoga. LeRoy Jolley commented after the win, “There has been some talk about making the Saratoga meeting longer. As far as General Assembly is concerned, they should make it a year-round meeting.”

 

 


Win
B. gelding, 1980 – 2002, Barachois – Par Ci Par La, by Buckpasser

spastars_win
1984 Bernard Baruch
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Robert G. Wehle
Owner: Sally Bailie, Paul Cornman, Fred Ephraim
Trainer: Sally Bailie
Jockey: Antonio Graell, Richard Migliore

It’s no surprise that a successful New York-bred may find themselves in the Saratoga winners’ circle. Such was the case with Win, the first horse born in the Big Apple to become a millionaire. The gelding turned quite a profit on his $8,000 auction price, retiring with $1,407,210 in earnings. That total still places him among the top-10 for statebreds. Once called a “giraffe-looking thing,” by his trainer, Sally Bailie, Win developed into one of the nation’s top grass horses. His back-to-back victories in the Bernard Baruch included a defeat of champion Cozzene in the race’s fastest renewal in a decade.

 

 

 


Chief's Crown
B. colt, 1982-1997, Danzig – Six Crowns, by Secretariat

spastars_chiefscrown
1985 Travers
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Carl Rosen
Owner: Andrew Rosen (2), Star Crown Stable (3)
Trainer: Roger Laurin
Jockey: Don MacBeth (2), Angel Cordero, Jr. (3)

Beautifully bred Chief’s Crown has a few claims to fame. He’s widely known as the very first winner of a Breeders’ Cup race. More quirkily, he’s the only horse to be defeated as the favorite in all thee Triple Crown races. Here at Saratoga, however, he was just nearly perfect. In four starts, he always crossed the wire in front. He impressed in the Saratoga Special and Hopeful at two, part of a championship campaign. When he returned at three, a disqualification in the Tell continued, as The New York Times put it, a “star-crossed” streak. Steve Christ called the Travers a “day for vindication.” Chief’s Crown delivered, giving “The King of Saratoga,” Angel Cordero, Jr., his only Travers. As Bill Christine wrote, “both horse and man, as though they had booked a passage for two with destiny, ended the ignominy beautifully Saturday.”


Groovy
Ch. colt, 1983-2006, Norcliffe – Tinnitus, by Restless Wind

spastars_groovy
1986 Forego
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Marshall T. Robinson
Owner: John Ballis & Theodore Kruckel Jr (3), Prestonwood Farm (4)
Trainer: Jose Martin
Jockey: Jose Santos (3), Angel Cordero, Jr. (4)

“Eccentric and speed-crazy,” as described by Steven Crist for The New York Times, Groovy made his Saratoga debut at the age of three. Facing older horses on a muddy track, the colt went right to the lead and never looked back, taking the Forego in 1:21 1/5. He came back for the Forego the following year, not as the hot-shot young gun, but on a four-race win streak and regarded as the best sprinter in training. That warranted a hefty assignment of 132 pounds. As Keith Marder explained in the Albany Times Union, “it t would be like Nolan Ryan throwing fast ball with a shot put.” The burden didn’t bother the chestnut, who led them wire-to-wire for his second straight win in the meet’s premiere sprint.
 


Steinlen
B. colt, 1983-2001, Habitat – Southern Seas, by Jim French

spastars_steinlen
1989 Bernard Baruch
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Allez France Stables Ltd.
Owner: D. Wildenstein
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Pat Day (5), Angel Cordero, Jr. (6), Jose Santos (6)

British-bred Steinlen began his career in France, moved to California, and eventually made his way to Saratoga. He took the Budweiser Breeders’ Cup at five while giving seven pounds to the runner-up. The following year, he took a division of the split opening day feature, the Daryl’s Joy. Wheeled back just eleven days later, giving weight, and trying to prove himself at 1 1/8, Steinlen rolled home in the Bernard Baruch, then a Grade 1, by five lengths. When he returned at seven as the reigning Eclipse Award winner for champion grass horse, he joined the legendary ranks of “Graveyard of Champions” victims. Giving sixteen pounds to the winner, he finished second at 3-10.

 


Quick Call
B. gelding, 1984-present, Quack – Sadie Mae, by Sadair

spastars_quickcall
1988 Forego
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Warner L. Jones, Jr. & David L. Greathouse, Jr.
Owner: Lynda S. Stokes
Trainer: Sidney Watters, Jr.
Jockey: Pat Day

You know you made an impression at the Spa when they name a stakes race after you. Such is the case with Quick Call. Over four consecutive years, he won a total of nine races at Saratoga, including back-to-back years with three wins apiece. At three, that total tied him for most wins at the meet with stablemate Crivitz, a feat which secured the leading trainer title for Sidney Watters, Jr. Quick Call was a perfect three-for-three at four, culminating in a victory in the prestigious Forego. The gelding “only” won two Saratoga races at five, but again prevailed in the meet’s premiere sprint race. The following year’s Forego was called the “tightest and most competitive race of the Saratoga meeting,” by Steven Crist in The New York Times, but it was Quick Call on the losing end of the photo, and neither an inquiry or claim of foul was enough to give him a third straight win in the race. Appropriately, Quick Call is retired to his favorite area, upstate New York, as a resident of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Wallkill Correctional Facility herd.

 


Personal Ensign
B. filly, 1984-2010, Private Account – Grecian Banner, by Hoist the Flag

spastars_personalensign
1988 Whitney
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Ogden Phipps
Owner: Ogden Phipps
Trainer: Claude R. McGaughey III
Jockey: Randy Romero

There is perhaps nothing rarer in racing than a champion who retires undefeated. Colin did it in 1908. It took 80 years for the next to come along. Like Colin, Personal Ensign’s path to glory took her right through Saratoga Springs. On a sloppy August day, she became just the sixth filly to take the historic Whitney. She trailed a pair of millionaires early on a speed-favoring track before bounding past them. Her tenth victory in a row was a popular one. Steven Crist wrote for The New York Times that it, “brought the fans to their feet and left them cheering her in the winner's circle.” While she would go on to win her final three starts, the Whitney may be viewed as a tipping point in her legacy. As Crist wrote in the days after the win, “in victory, Personal Ensign crossed the line from being a nice filly to being a great one.” In retirement, her influence continued to be felt at the Spa. Both her first and last foals broke their maidens at Saratoga, with Miner’s Mark also collecting a win in the Jim Dandy. Her legacy was never more secure than on August 27, 2004, the day her granddaughter, Storm Flag Flying, won the Grade 1 race named in her honor.

 


Go for Wand
B. filly, 1987-1990, Deputy Minister – Obeah, by Cyane

spastars_goforwand
1990 Alabama
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Christiana Stables
Owner: Christiana Stable
Trainer: William Badgett Jr.
Jockey: Randy Romero

Theoretically, Go for Wand’s Saratoga debut was meant as a prep race. She had been off from the races for seven weeks and had the Alabama on the horizon. Someone forgot to tell her and she flew to a stakes-record tying Test victory in 1:21.09. Nine days later it was more of the same. Her seven length victory in the Alabama, three furlongs longer than the Test, set a stakes record of 2:00.84 that has yet to be threatened. Trainer Billy Badgett couldn’t describe the win, saying “’I’m at a loss for words. She still just amazes me.” Rider Randy Romero went with “unbelievable,” while Craig Perret, who rode the very good Charon in second, labeled her a “super horse.” Superlatives often fly in the moment that don’t linger, but with the benefit of perspective in a meet wrap-up piece for The New York Times, Steven Crist had this to say, “Go for Wand proved herself Hall of Fame material with a sizzling victory going seven furlongs in the Test on Aug. 2 and then stretching out for a brilliant display of stamina in the Alabama nine days later.”

 


Irish Linnet
B. filly, 1988-present, Seattle Song – Royal Slip, by Royal Match

spastars_irishlinnet
1992 Yaddo
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Austin Delaney
Owner: Austin Delaney
Trainer: Leo O'Brien
Jockey: Mike Smith (3, 4), Jose Santos (5), John Velazquez (6, 7)

Nineteen days before two-year-old Irish Linnet broke her maiden at Saratoga Fourstardave had won the Daryl’s Joy. It was the fourth straight year he had won at the Spa. Perhaps he gave his stablemate some advice on how to succeed here. Irish Linnet came back the next five years and won the Yaddo each time. The streak began by defeating her elders as a three-year-old. At four she set a stakes record. At five she tied it. At six she lowered it. In her final appearance in the Yaddo, at the age of seven, she gave 11-17 pounds to the field and won by eight. Bill Finley, writing for the New York Daily News, with a nod to her more famous stablemate called her the “Sultana of Saratoga.” Leo O’Brien credited the mare, saying, “I’m proud of her because she started this when she was a 3-year-old, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”

 


Thunder Rumble
Dkb./br. colt, 1989-present, Thunder Puddles – Lyphette, by Lyphard

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1992 Travers
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Dr. Konrad Widmer
Owner: Braeburn Farm
Trainer: Richard O’Connell
Jockey: Herb McCauley (3), Richard Migliore (4)

In his Saratoga debut, Thunder Rumble equaled a stakes record. In the Jim Dandy. At 24-1. As Joseph Durso put it in the New York Times, “in racing’s celebrated house of upsets, chalk up one of the biggest.” Trainer Richie O’Connell was understandably enthused, saying “I can taste the $1 million,” referring to the upcoming Travers. He was dismissed as the fifth choice in the wagering that day, but someone forgot to tell him. Thunder Rumble was the first New York-bred in over a century to take the historic Mid-Summer Derby. The hero of Saratoga didn’t make it back to the Spa for two years. He had ankle surgery at the end of his three-year-old campaign, thus missing his entire four-year-old year. In a remarkable comeback, having won just once, late in that year’s Belmont meet since the Travers, Thunder Rumble scored in the 77th Saratoga Cup. Richard Migliore was effusive in his praise, saying, “I always read the Black Stallion books when I was little, and Thunder Rumble is Black Stallion to me. He acts like him, and even looks like him.” Thunder Rumble is retired not far from his favorite track at Old Friends at Cabin Creek.

 


John's Call
Ch. gelding
, 1991-2010, Lord At War – Calling Guest, by Be My Guest

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Leading the post parade for the John's Call Stakes
Brandon Benson/Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Wimborne Farm
Owner: Trillium Stable
Trainer: Thomas Voss
Jockey: Mike Luzzi (4), Jean-Luc Samyn (7, 9)

When you spend $4,000 on a yearling steeplechase prospect, ending up in the Saratoga winners’ circle doesn’t sound far-fetched. After all, the annual tradition of steeplechase racing at the Spa is renowned. Ending up there following one of the meet’s premiere flat races, however? That’s a little more out there. Well into “old age” for a flat horse, John’s Call became Saratoga’s oldest G1 winner when he won the Sword Dancer at nine. The chestnut gelding, who had three Saratoga wins to his credit already in lesser company, drew off to score by better than nine lengths. “Some horses do well here, and some horses don’t,” said rider Jean-Luc Samyn, adding, “It’s got to be something about the climate and the water. John’s Call showed he definitely loves it here.” The feeling was mutual. Each year the John’s Call Stakes is run in his honor. In retirement, he even led the post parade for it during his summers as a pony for trainer Tom Voss.
 

 


With Anticipation
Gr./ro. gelding
, 1995-present, Relaunch – Fran’s Valentine, by Saros

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2002 Sword Dancer Invitational
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: George Strawbridge, Jr.
Owner: Augustin Stable
Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard
Jockey: Pat Day

The success of Jonathan Sheppard, particularly at Saratoga, is remarkable. It’s a wonder it took him until 2000 to get his first Grade 1 winner on the flat, but it did. The horse that finally delivered the big one for him was the popular, appropriately named With Anticipation. The six-year-old led nearly every step of the way to take the Sword Dancer over a tough field that included defending champion John’s Call. He came back the following year, this time making a late move to just get there in time. Of course, he had the right rider when impeccable timing is needed. Patient Pat Day, who guided the near-white horse to both Spa wins, had done that before. A lot. In fact, the victory in the race made him racing’s all-time money earner.

 


Evening Attire
Gr./ro. gelding
, 1998-present, Black Tie Affair – Concolour, by Our Native

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2004 Saratoga Cup
Bob Coglianese Photos

Breeder: Thomas J. Kelly & Joseph M. Grant
Owner: Mary & Joseph Grant, Thomas J. Kelly
Trainer: Timothy Kelly (2), Patrick J. Kelly (4+)
Jockey: Robbie Davis (2), Shaun Bridgmohan (4), Edgar Prado (5), Mark Guidry (5), Cornelio Velasquez (6)

On the Whitney undercard in 2000, a dark gray two-year-old hit the gate, was bumped shortly after the break, and was forced five wide turning for home. He won anyway. In a career that lasted until he was ten, Evening Attire would go on to become one of the most popular local runners in recent years. The gelding picked up his first Saratoga stakes win as a four-year-old in a quirky edition of the historic Saratoga Cup. Fellow popular gray Gander stumbled at the start, leaving rider Mike Smith behind. He bounded under the wire ahead of the field, but it was Evening Attire who collected the trophy. Despite lacking a stakes win here at five, Evening Attire had another terrific summer, winning twice and running third in a tough rendition of the Whitney. 2004 saw what would turn out to be the penultimate edition of the Saratoga Cup, a race which originated in 1865. The headliner was Funny Cide, making his local debut, but at the end it was all Evening Attire who rolled home by five. “He was one of a kind,” Tommy Kelly said when the gelding retired in the fall of 2008, adding, “he always put in his run. I’ve never seen him back once. He might have finished second, third, fourth, or fifth, but he was always running at the end.” Evening Attire now lives at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue in Pawling, NY.