Teamwork

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Mike Caruso likes his fill-in point man role when his main man Mike Dubb is out of town. 

 The head of Bethlehem Stables will help lead horses into the winner’s circle, handle interviews with the press and pose for the grab and grip photos with a trophy after stakes.

He did it Thursday at Saratoga Race Course, with Dubb out of town and Bonita Bianca topping four other New York-bred fillies and mares in the $97,000 Union Avenue. And Caruso is even more content to let Dubb be the actual point man when it comes to the buying and selling of horses they own in partnership.

“Mike is the managing partner, like I said, I get to talk when Mike’s out of town,” said Caruso, a three-time NCAA champion wrestler in the 1960s whose association with Dubb goes back about a decade. “I was in this business 38 years, never won a Grade 1 until I met Mike Dubb with Grace Hall. The only thing I had to do with Grace Hall was name her after my old gym (at Lehigh University).

“This year we’ve won five Grade 1s, three or four Grade 2s, Grade 3s, and I wouldn’t have smelled manure around a Grade 1 horse until I met Mike Dubb. So I give him all the credit.”

Bonita Bianca isn’t a Grade 1 winner – she is by Hall of Famer and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin out of Grade 1 winner Friendly Michelle – but outran a solid field of four others who collectively had earned nearly $1.6 million and won 12 stakes. Bonita Bianca won the 6 1/2-furlong Union Avenue by 1 1/2 lengths under Manny Franco from Swing And Sway with stablemate and 3-5 favorite Picco Uno another 1 1/2 lengths back.

“This horse is a big filly, she’s got a stride that is longer and that half a furlong made all the difference,” Caruso said. “At 6 furlongs I don’t think we get there, but that 6 1/2, and the fractions were quick. Manny, he knows what to do. Get her going. Did you notice he rode her a little bit leaving the gate? Just to get her going. Once she gets going, take a hold and let them come back to you and they did.”

To read the rest of the Union Avenue recap, download Friday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by EasyFix Stable Solutions.