Sardella’s Column

Spa Stakes Stars Become Open Stalwarts



The ballots for the annual awards at Saratoga Casino and Raceway will be put together this week. Only the statistics assembled by horses and horsemen and women up through the card raced on November 15th will count towards their 2015 resumes. While some of the races are likely to be very close for some of the top honors at the Spa this season, two horses who achieved unique feats in the previous two years’ awards ceremonies are continuing to do damage at the raceway but may be making an impact too late in the season to be considered as serious contenders to continue their award streaks.
             Cash Me Out became the first horse in over a decade to repeat as Two Year Old Trotter of the Year and Three Year Old Trotter of the Year at Saratoga. A star in the New York Sire Stakes as a two and three year old out of the Cheryl McGivern stable, Cash Me Out has enjoyed a smooth transition from stakes star to Open stalwart in ’15. Now under the guidance of conditioner Kyle Spagnola, Cash Me Out has recently become an Open force in the Sunday feature. Having competing against the top flight local trotters from time to time in the past, Cash Me Out has established himself against the best the track has to offer as he has rattled off a pair of victories in the $18,000 Open in the last month.
             In two years competing mostly in the New York Sire Stakes, Cash Me Out earned just shy of $350,000 for owner Mike Traylor and the Traylor Racing Stable, LLC. Near the end of his three year old campaign in ’14, Traylor took over the training himself and decided to take a crack at the local Open with Cash Me Out. He finished a strong second on October 12th but soon afterwards, his season came to an end. Cash Me Out made his ’15 debut in the Open in May and didn’t get his year off to a great start. In late June, though, the four year old trotter finished second in the Sunday feature before Traylor relinquished training duties to Spagnola who has thrived with the local trotting star. Competing both locally and at Yonkers, Cash Me Out put together a strong summer including a victory in a $32,000 conditional race at Yonkers. After racing once in the downstate Open, it was back to the Spa for Cash Me Out who began to cash in.
             Dismissed at odds of 9-1 in his return to the local Open, Cash Me Out came from well off the pace to secure his first ever victory in the feature, scoring in a career best 1:55.1. That afternoon, not only did the local trotting star win his first Open but he bested track record holder Bourbon Bay in the process. Just a couple of weeks prior, Bourbon Bay posted a sensational 1:53 victory to shatter the all-time track record for a trotter at the Spa. Cash Me Out bypassed the record setter with relative ease while pulling off the mild upset that Sunday afternoon. Following a third place finish the next week, the rising Open star returned to his winning ways, putting the swoop to the group to prevail in 1:54.4, another lifetime mark. While Cash Me Out does possess a bit of early speed, the majority of his recent damage has been done as a closer. That trend continued on Sunday afternoon as he had the daunting task of trying to overcome his assigned outside post in the $18,000 feature. Driver Jim Devaux, who piloted him to both of his Open scores, sat patiently with the new feature force who came charging hard late to finish second despite being fifth at the top of the stretch. Cash Me Out, who became the first trotter to take home the awards for the top two and three year olds at the Spa since 2003-2004 when Omega Angel did it, has certainly taken the leap from young stakes star to Open force this year at Saratoga.
             Mirroring the honors awarded to Cash Me Out in 2013-2014, Spreester became the first horse to be named Two Year and Three Year Pacer in successive years at Saratoga since Alpine Dandy achieved the feat in 2002-2003. The Paul Zabielski-trained filly amassed more than a quarter million dollars in her two years racing primarily in Sire Stakes competition in ‘13 and ‘14. Towards the end of last year, Spreester got her feet wet in the local Open, gaining some experience racing against the top distaffers at the Spa. Her four year old campaign kicked off in the spring and while she started a little slow, Spreester got things going by May 22nd. She went on to win two in a row, including one in the ‘Winners Over’ pace for fillies and mares. Zabielski then sent the mare to down to Ron Burke, the winningest trainer in North America over the last few years. Spreester competed eight times for Burke, winning once in a $29,000 conditional race at Yonkers before returning home to Saratoga and the Zabielski stable.
             Spreester began to assert herself among the track’s top lady pacers and scored a total of three victories in the Winners Over pace before prevailing for the first time in the local Open on November 6th. Much like Cash Me Out, Spreester has been regularly driven by Jimmy Devaux who has seemingly found the right trip for the local star every week, utilizing her versatility as both a leaver and a closer. Her first win in the $18,000 local feature marked Spreester’s 20th victory in just 53 lifetime starts and moved her career earnings to over the $350,000 for owner Kim Zabielski of Greenfield Center. While she isn’t likely to take home another award in ’15, Spreester has continued to be one of the most consistent and dynamic horses to consistently compete at Saratoga in the last few years. Cash Me Out and Spreester, both rare back-to-back award winners at the Spa, have graduated from Sire Stakes stars to formidable threats in the Opens at Saratoga in 2015.
             Live racing takes place this week on Thursday beginning at 4:00pm and continues with 6:45pm first posts on Friday and Saturday. The Sunday matinee will start at 12:15pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!               

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