Monday at Saratoga: ‘Out’ and about

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Larry Rivelli clung to the rail in the winner’s circle, waiting for his homebred Dugout to join him after breaking his maiden in the fourth race Monday at Saratoga Race Course. The 5 1/2-furlong race was carded for the Mellon Turf Course, but moved to the sealed dirt track after on-and-off downpours throughout the morning.

Rivelli and his partner Richard Raven purchased Rooney Doodle and other mares from Wesley Ward nearly 10 years ago. Bred to Adios Charlie, Rooney Doodle produced Dugout in April 2016. Rivelli added longtime clients Patricia’s Hope to the partnership and began training the grey colt at Arlington Park.

“We have a great homebred program, it’s unbelievable,” said Rivelli. “I bought a bunch of horses at the sale this year for a lot of money and he’s been with them, even outworking them a little bit.”

Posting bullet workouts all summer on Arlington’s Polytrack, Rivelli moved Dugout to Saratoga three weeks ago and tentatively entered on the turf.

“He worked like a monster at home on the Poly all the time,” said Rivelli. “I was actually hoping that if it were to come off it would be sloppy and fast and sealed because I know this track has a tendency to be deep.

“He’s only had one little breeze over the track and I didn’t know if he’d be fit enough to run on the regular dirt track. But this is a little more to his liking because it’s like home. It was either turf or stay at home on the poly, and then it rained and we’re here.”

With Javier Castellano aboard, Dugout broke from post 4 and shot to the front, gradually extending his lead to win by 7 1/4 lengths.

“You never know because he’s never been on the dirt before,” said Rivelli. “We found out. I’ve always liked this horse and I work him like one of my good horses.”

The maiden victory gives Rivelli his first win of the meet. He plans to run Dugout back in New York-bred company before the end of the meet.

“When I haven’t stabled here I’ve done good, because I only bring the ones like this,” said Rivelli, who brings a string of eight to Saratoga this summer. “When you have a stable you throw a few extra in there and you end up not doing so well. Last year I had a terrible meet. I brought 20 horses here and thought I was set up to go and I only won one. Now I’m 1-for-1 so I can go home now.” – Shayna Tiller


• Sunshine filled the paddock as seven maiden 3-year-olds prepared to run the first race Monday at Saratoga Race Course. Just as the horses reached the starting gate, the sun retreated and a bout of rain made the already muddy track even muddier.

“You gotta go with the flow,” jockey Javier Castellano said after scoring the win with Shanghai Schwartz.

Shanghai Schwartz did that, breaking sharp and settling into second position outside of El Mas Puro up the backstretch. Approaching the final turn, Fox Red gained some ground on the outside and briefly inched into the second spot. Off the turn El Mas Puro and Shanghai Schwartz pulled away from Fox Red and the rest of the pack.

Castellano and Shanghai Schwartz snatched a slight lead in midstretch before El Mas Puro responded and poked his head in front.

“He’s that kind of horse,” Castellano said. “He likes to be competitive. When he ended up in the lead, he ended up by himself and he didn’t see anybody around. He kind of pulled up a bit.”

El Mas Puro and Shanghai Schwartz battled it out into the final furlong, with the latter prevailing by a nose.

“Every time I asked him, he would respond very well,” Castellano said. “He’s such a good horse.”

The win was the sixth of the meet trainer Chad Brown, who added another in the fifth with Ekhtibaar and sits atop the trainer standings through the first four days.

“I give all the credit to Mr. Brown for bringing the horse and the great performance today,” Castellano said. “I’m just very lucky and fortunate to ride this horse.” – Sarah Newman


• When trainer Ray Handal made his Saratoga debut in 2016, the young conditioner was just hoping he could win a race. Handal won two races from five starts that year, went 3-for-22 last year and Monday he posted two wins in a single day. The two victories were something the 29-year-old wouldn’t have dreamed of two years ago.

“I was hoping for two wins in a meet back then.” Handal said. “It’s been great, it’s come full circle. My staff and everybody here has been busting their butts and my owners allow me to put these horses in these great spots. I’m just so happy to see it all come together on days like today.”

Handal’s first win Monday came with Seam in the third, a $16,000 claimer on the main track. Handal claimed the 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags for $30,000 last September. She’s now won two straight after breaking her maiden for a $20,000 tag last out at Belmont Park June 15.

“I claimed her and after a few starts she kind of came down with bone bruising, general soreness. She seemed like a decent enough filly, and you know we wanted to do right by her, so we gave her the time off,” Handal said. “You know I got great owners, Gaining Ground Racing, they let me just take my time and bring her along, and it really paid off getting the back-to-back wins and especially getting the win here at Saratoga. It’s always good to get the monkey off your back and get that first win.”

Handal won again two three races later when Calculated Risker took the sixth, an allowance-optional going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Pat MacWilliams and Leonard Green owned Calculated Risker for his first seven starts, but he was claimed out of his maiden-breaking race for $40,000 last August. The owners and Handal claimed the 4-year-old son of Into Mischief back for $25,000 in March. Handal rides the colt himself and felt a stretch out in distance was needed.

“I claimed him and really liked him. His pedigree says long to me, but they had been sprinting him. He’s kind of a smaller horse, but he’s really built like a tank. I got to know him, and I actually ride him myself because he’s actually really difficult,” Handal said.

“He’s like a gorilla, he’s one of the toughest horses I’ve ever galloped. He’s super aggressive, always on the bridle, wants to go, go, go, go all the time. It’s a fine line you have to be able to harness that speed and you want him to train the right way, but you also don’t want to be fighting him.”

With his win Monday, Calculated Risker is now 5-for-18 with $174,681 earned. The New York-bred’s victory improved his trainer’s record at the meet to 2-for-6 with a second and third. – Brandon Valvo and David Woods


• Owners James Hogan and Chip Landry had high hopes for 2-year-old Silencia heading into the filly’s first race at Belmont April 28. Despite being bet down to the 9-5 favorite and breaking on top, she backed through the field and finished eighth beaten 15 lengths. The owners and trainer Charlton Baker had to regroup.

“The first time out, she had been working really fast and they bet her down and she bucked her shins in that race, so we had to give her some time off,” Landry said.

Silencia came back in Monday’s finale and rewarded her connections with a 5-length win in a $75,000 maiden special going 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track. She beat the race’s 8-5 favorite Mama Mary, who Landry sold as an agent.

“She hadn’t had a lot of works coming back, but we thought she was tight enough to run, but we didn’t know she was tight enough to run that good,” Landry said. “There were a couple of scary horses in here. Interestingly, I had sold Mama Mary for $100,000.”

Landry bought dam Matinee Express in foal to Silencia out of the 2014 Keeneland November breeding stock sale for $20,000. He liked the pedigree – by Zensational (who’s grandsire is Unbridled Song) out of Storm Cat mare Performing Diva – and her unraced record.

“I like Unbridled Song mares, but I thought being by Zensational, it would be more speed and I was looking for a mare that had Unbridled Song as a grandsire,” Landry said. “I was attracted to her and she was unraced. I’m quite happy with that for a broodmare because she can put it all into the babies then.”

Silencia grew up on Hogan’s farm five minutes away. The win is especially exciting for the local connections.

“It’s very exciting when you live here,” Hogan said. “We’re pretty happy about it.” – Brandon Valvo