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Submitted by Noel Michaels on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM

First weekend at Spa lives up to expectations

The 150th opening weekend of Saratoga was a interesting one, in which we saw many good performances and set the stage for what looks like another great meet at the Spa.

The first 2-year-old maiden race went to Stopcharingmaria for the connections of Todd Pletcher and Mike Repole with Johnny V up. This was a highly touted horse from the 2-year-old sales, which you will see later on this meet at some point in a stakes.

We closed out Friday with two very good stakes. The first was The James Marvin Stakes, which went to Sage Valley for Trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owners Michael Dub and Gary Aisquith with Cornelio Velasquez riding. This was a very impressive race because Sage Valley showed that she could rate, which she hasn’t before and that has been the only reason that I have not been high on her. The second stake opening day was the Schuylerville in which we saw a dead heat. Brazen Persuasion set a brutal pace for herself, but speed was carrying all day on this track and she was able to hang on for a dead heat with Bahnah. The race by Bahnah was especially impressive because the track wasn’t allowing anyone to close in the lane.

We shifted our attention to Saturday where once again we saw speed carrying, especially on the turf. We had two phenomenal stakes performances. The first coming in the Shuvee Handicap where Authenticity won for trainer Todd Pletcher and Pauda Stables with Johnny V up. This was a very impressive race. This will be a horse to watch moving forward as she keeps improving in every race. The performance of the weekend might have very well come in the TVG CAA Oaks with Princess of Sylmar. She cruised to a 5 length victory after taking control mid-stretch.

In Sunday’s stakes we also saw some great performances. The first was by Strong Impact in the Fiddlers Patriot stakes. He got a beautiful ride from Alexis Solis saving ground and coming up the rail. I would like to add that if speed were carrying a little better on the turf, Tightend Touchdown more than likely would have hung on to win. Strong Impact has now won the last two starts at Saratoga.

The last stakes on this opening weekend was the Sanford Stakes. Wired Bryan won this for trainer Michael Dilger and owners Anstu Stables with Shaun Bridgmohan up. He grabbed the lead out of the gate and got passed at the top of the stretch only to battle back and win impressively. The connections were awarded a 100k bonus for winning a maiden race on the NYRA circuit as well as a stakes in the same year. This is trainer Michael Dilgers first stakes win, he is a former assistant of Todd Pletcher.

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