By Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS – While a major focal point of Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s (SCR) card on Saturday, July 25 will be the seventh annual Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace, race fans should make a point to arrive early and stay late. That will afford fans the opportunity to view several races in the New York State Sire Stakes series, which is worth a trip unto itself.
Seven other races on Saturday’s card will feature New York bred 3-year old pacing colts, one of several divisions of the Sire Stakes. Each division competes and (hopefully) accumulates points based on performances at the state’s pari-mutuel harness tracks. The top finishers in each division compete one of two final “Night of Champions,” which features a total of eight $225,000 championship finals for the New York Sire Stakes, with total purses of $1.8 million, in September (see side box). There are two races on Saturday’s card (4 and 9), which are in the major division – with purses in excess of $80,000 at stake.
“These are extremely balanced fields,” noted SCR’s Racing Secretary Peter Iovino, “particularly the ninth race – which is why I made it part of the Pick 4 series.”
The New York Sire Stakes began in 1961. According to Betty Holt, executive director of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, “the Sire Stakes was designed with the goal of protecting agricultural programs and green space. Horse breeding is an extremely important agricultural industry in New York State.” And this is not a program for only the elite of New York standardbreds. Not only will the top earning horses participate in the purses, Saturday’s card features five other Sire Stakes races in what is called the “Excelsior” series, affording opportunities for late-blooming two and three-year olds to compete against other harness horses of similar abilities. The purses for these races are above average for these horses—Division “A” has three races on Saturday’s card for a $15,000 purse; Division “B” has two for $6,500.
Our local area is well represented among the leaderboard in the various divisions of the 2015 New York Sire States, in which the top eight will compete in a “Night of Champions” race:
- -Currently in first place in the 2-year old pacing colt division is Skip Jive, who is trained by Gansevoort’s Paul Kelley. Kelley and owner W. Springtime Stable of Johnstown have entered Penji Hanover in Saturday’s ninth race.
- -Also, Bettorhaveanother is currently first in the current standings for 3-year old pacing fillies. She belongs to Kellogg Racing Stable of Queensbury and Janie Martin (Fort Ann) and is trained by Wilton’s Jackie Rousse.
- -2-year old trotting colt Andrew Goldstein is trained by Stillwater’s Kim Crawford and is currently in third place in that division.
- -Royal Deceptor scores in seventh place current among 3-year old trotting colts. Trained by Gansevoort’s Mickey McGivern, Royal Deceptor is owned by two Saratoga Springs residents (Charles Foster and Michael James) as well as Micheal Sentiwany of Rensselaer. They are probably looking forward to August 19, when this division competes at Saratoga.
SCR Director of Racing Operations Paul Matarazzo said that he regarded Saturday’s 3-year old pacing colt division, as “the best division of the Sire Stakes, a key part of what should be the best racing card of the year.” With all the festivities surrounding the evening, all with free admission and parking, it appears to be the formula for a winning Saturday night.
Upcoming 2015 NY Sire Stakes Races At Saratoga Casino and Raceway
Saturday, July 25 3-year Old Colt Pace
Wednesday, August 19 3-year Old Colt Trot
Wednesday, September 2 2-year Old Colt Trot
Thursday, September 17 2-year Old Colt Pace
Finals for all divisions will take place at Yonkers Raceway’s “Night of Champions.”
2 and 3-year old fillies will race on Saturday, September 12, and 2 and 3-year old colts on Saturday, September 26.