Small filly, big chance

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Tim Thornton’s been coming to Saratoga Race Course for four decades, starting as a teenager when he worked for the old Shawnee Farm that brought a consignment to sell across the street at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale. He came later as a friend of Hall of Fame trainer John Veitch, “messed around with him, went to the races, that kind of stuff,” and in more recent years he’s come in his role as general manager of Airdrie Stud.

The lifelong Kentuckian and well-respected horseman is in town again this week.

He’s not here on business. Nor is he here for messing around.

Not quite.

He is enjoying himself and Sunday he’ll find out if Include Betty, a little speck of a chestnut filly he watched grow up and co-owns with his boss, can take another step toward a possible championship in Sunday’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. Thornton has owned horses before, some on his own and some in partnership with Aidrie owner Brereton Jones. It’s safe to say Thornton has never had one quite like Include Betty, who won the Grade 1 Mother Goose last time out and the Grade 3 Fantasy this spring.

“No, nothing of this class,” Thornton said as he watched Include Betty and exercise rider Xavier Aizpuru gallop on the main track just after Saturday morning’s fog lifted. “I feel very lucky to be a part of this horse. To be here at Saratoga in a Grade 1 is unbelievable. I’ve been coming to Saratoga for 40 years. It’s kind of fun.”

The ride’s been plenty of fun already for Thornton, born and raised in Bourbon County and general manager at Aidrie since 1988.

Read the rest of the preview and all the coverage of Saturday at Saratoga Race Course in Sunday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland.