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Trainer Gary Sciacca leads Saratoga Snacks to the winner's circle after the Empire Classic.

horse racing

2013 Empire Showcase Day Stakes Results

Date: 10/19/2013

On Saturday, Belmont Park hosted Empire Showcase Day, a series of 7 stakes races for New York-breds with a total of over $1 million in purses before 6,675 fans in attendance. Conditions were excellent with a fast track, overcast skies, and temperatures in the mid 60's.

horse racing
Saratoga Snacks wins the Empire Classic
The highlight race of the night was the $250,000 Empire Classic Handicap for older horses going 1 1/16 miles. Saratoga Snacks was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the field of 8 over 8-5 second choice Readtheprospectus and 6-1 Awesome Vision. Jockey Javier Castellano sent 12-1 Warrioroftheroses to the lead exiting the chute and he set fractions of 23.67, 46.67 and 1:10.66 while stalked by Saratoga Snacks and 25-1 Moneyinyour Pocket. At the 1/4 pole Warrioroftheroses tired and faded to last, allowing Saratoga Snacks to inherit the lead. 23-1 Bigger is Bettor, 7th early, put in a strong 4 wide rally but Saratoga Snacks held him off by 3/4 length in 1:48.79. It was 2 3/4 lengths back to Moneyinyour Pocket third.

Full results chart

Winning trainer Garry Sciacca said, "Once I put the glue-on shoes on the horse it made all the difference in the world. He started doing good. Joel came out and worked him the other morning in 1:12 4/5. He worked good and galloped out strong. I said, 'Well, if he wasn't fit, that'll get him right there.' When they turned for home, I never screamed like I screamed today." Jockey Joel Rosario added, "He's a little bit of a funny horse. You have to really keep him motivated; keep him busy. You have to keep him focused."

horse racing
Miss Narcissist wins the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes
horse racing A field of 6 two-year-old fillies contested the $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma Stakes at 7 furlongs. Jockey Junior Alvarado sent 5-1 second choice Miss Narcissist to the lead through fractions fo 23.11, 46.31, and 1:11.10 while pressed by 7-10 favorite Court Dancer. Entering the lane Miss Narcissist pulled away from the field, finishing 5 1/4 lengths in front of Court Dancer in 1:23.82. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to late-running 11-1 Canal Six third.

Full results chart

Winning jockey Junior Alvarado said, "She's not an easy filly to ride but (trainer) Linda Rice had her perfectly ready for this race. My filly broke good, and (Court Dancer) broke good too, but I had to go to the lead. She relaxed after that. At the top of the stretch, I knew how much horse I had. Once she switched to her right lead, I knew we were in good shape. I don't think she will have any problems going long."

horse racing
Wired Bryan wins the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes
horse racing A field of 7 two-year-olds sprinted 7 furlongs in the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes. Jockey John Velazquez sent 3-10 favorite Wired Bryan to the lead and he set a quick pace of 22.86 and 45.78 while 2 lengths in front of 11-1 Sol the Freud. Entering the lane, Wired Bryan opened up by 5 lengths through 3/4 in 1:09.93, and easily held off late-running 12-1 Empire Dreams by 3 lengths in 1:22.83. It was another 3 lengths back to 5-1 So Lonesome third.

Full results chart

Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "It wasn't a surprise, we have to expect that. This horse has been running against a lot better horses. Today we broke from the outside, just kind of let him run out of there, got to the lead, and tried to save some horse for the end." Trainer Mike Dilger added, "I wasn't concerned about seven furlongs on a fast track. His recent works have shown he's progressing and maturing. We'll winter in Florida, and who knows, maybe try to stretch him out [on the Triple Crown trail]."

horse racing
Cluster of Stars wins the Iroquois Stakes
The $150,000 Iroquois Stakes featured a field of 6 older fillies and mares sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Jockey Javier Castellano sent 1-5 favorite Cluster of Stars to a clear lead down the backstretch through fractions of 22.46 and 45.54 while 1 1/2 lengths ahead of 15-1 Vicki's Dancer. 6-1 Willet tried to close from third but Cluster of Stars drew off to a 3 1/4 length win in 1:21.87. It was a long 9 3/4 lengths back to 13-1 Miss Valentine third.

Full results chart

Jockey Javier Castellano said, "In the beginning there's always pressure when you're 1-5 in the race, but she's very special. When you get on her, you don't worry about anything. You just focus and do your own thing. Toby (Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen) did a great job. She's very competitive, very intelligent; I'm just the pilot. I like to enjoy the ride. She's very professional and did everything the right way. She's a special horse."

Effie Trinket (inside) wins the Ticonderoga Stakes
horse racing The $200,000 Ticonderoga Stakes featured a field of 10 older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. Jockey Jose Lezcano sent 19-1 Harbor Mist to the lead exiting the chute and she set easy fractions of 24.77, 49.20, and 1:13.33 over the firm course while pressed by 50-1 longest shot Mystic City and 7-2 second choice Effie Trinket. On the far turn Harbor Mist tired, while 11-1 Sally's Dream moved up to challenge Effi Trinket at the top of the lane. The pair dueled to the line but Effie Trinket prevailed by a nose in 1:42.45 over the firm course. It was just 1/2 a length back to 8-1 Wholelottashakin third, while 2-1 favorite Shakeira checked in fifth.

Full results chart

Winning trainer Rick Violette said, "How game is she? She can do anything; she has won on the lead, she has won stalking, she's made one big run to get it. Here she kind of stalked and had to wait; everyone was packing her in. She's a small horse, so she needed just a small hole to get through. (Rajiv Maragh aboard runner-up Sally's Dream) did a good job; he had us kind of hemmed in. She just battled back and put a nose in front. It was very, very cool."

Palace wins the Hudson Handicap
A short field of 6 older horses sprinted 6 furlongs on the main track in the $150,000 Hudson Handicap. 5-1 Moonlight Song and 6-1 B Shanny dueled for the lead through fractions of 22.41 and 45.62 while stalked by 34-1 Cay to Pomeroy and 2-1 favorite Palace. Palace came out 4 wide for room entering the lane, taking over inside the 1/8 pole to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths over Moonlight Song in 1:08.97. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to B Shanny third.

Full results chart

Winning trainer Linda Rice said, "He trained so well last fall. He really flourished over the winter. He bled through Lasix on me. I turned him out for a couple of months, and when I brought him back he was just taking a little longer to get back into shape than I thought. He was a little heavier than anticipated, but I just knew there was something special under the hood, and he shows it each time."

King Kreesa wins the Mohawk Stakes
A field of 11 older horses went 1 1/16 miles over the Widener turf course in the $200,000 Mohawk Stakes. 64-1 longest shot Abilio set a fast pace of 23.28, 46.34, and 1:10.02 while 2 lengths ahead of 2-1 favorite King Kreesa. At the top of the stretch, Abilio tired allowing King Kreesa to inherit the lead. 4-1 third choice Lubash rallied from 5th but King Kreesa held him off by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:39.26. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to 3-1 second choice Notacatbutallama third.

Full results chart

Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "He relaxed pretty good today. He ran like he was in front. I talked with the trainer (Jeremiah Englehart) today and we saw there was speed in the race. We had in mind that if we had to, we would sit second or third. We had Plan B, and that worked for us." Owner Gerald Kresa added, "Once he got the lead coming around the turn I figured he'd hold it. He's tough."

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