parx at saratoga week

By Dick Jerardi

The four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga was, from the moment it was announced, always going to be a major 2024 sporting event. The Belmont Stakes, run for the first time at Saratoga, is the centerpiece of a Saturday card that annually is second only to the Breeders’ Cup in depth of talent.

The Belmont, which features the first matchup of Kentucky Derby (Mystik Dan) and Preakness (Seize the Grey) winners since 2013, is loaded. Sierra Leone, a nose short in the Derby, is the almost certain favorite, but a case could be made for most of the 10-horse field.

The action from Thursday through Sunday is extraordinary. Getting a hotel room or restaurant reservation in Saratoga Springs is harder than hitting the Pick 6. Winning any Festival race will be a lifetime memory.

Horses from Parx and with Parx connections will be at the Spa with several live chances.

The brilliant 3-year-old Pennsylvania bred filly Gray Lightning goes in her first stakes race, the $150,000 6-furlong Jersey Girl, on Thursday. She has been incredible in her two 2024 starts for trainer Tyler Servis, winning by 14 1/2 lengths and 12 1/4 lengths at Parx while earning consecutive 94 Beyer figures. Her strength is her early speed and Servis promises she will be going.

The competition is serious with two unbeaten fillies from top barns in the race – Almost Gone is 2-for-2 for Brad Cox, with Beyers of 83 and 93. Manama Gold makes her first start for Todd Pletcher after going 3-for-3 in Dubai.

Pa. Bred Carmelina starts from the rail for trainer Butch Reid. She won three stakes as a 2-year-old, but her Beyers have not gotten much better this year.

Friday’s great card features an incredible renewal of the $750,000 Grade I New York Stakes (1 3/16 miles on grass). The fillies and mares in the race have combined to win more than $10 million.

War Like Goddess is the most accomplished horse in the race with multiple Grade I wins, but the Reid-trained Neecie Marie is not without a chance. She fires every time and her first race of 2024 suggested she has made a big jump from 3 to 4 and could be good enough to contend with the best of her division.

Boat’s a Rockin trains at Penn National with Brandon Kulp, but Parx’s own executive director Jeff Matty is listed as owner for Friday’s $115,000 allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. It is a powerful field, but BAR is not without a chance as his 29-11-6-5 lifetime record proves. He led into the stretch of his only 2024 start, the Jim McKay on the Preakness undercard. That Boat’s will be ridden by Parx Hall of Famer Kendrick Carmouche adds to the Parx Racing flavor.

Reid has chances in two graded sprints Saturday – the 7-furlong $500,000 Grade I Woody Stephens with Maximus Meridius and the 6-furlong $350,000 Grade II True North with Ninetyprcentmaddie.

Pa. Bred Maximus Meridius is in a very tough race, but he is moving up the Beyer scale as a 3-year-old and the seven-eighths may be the perfect distance. Fellow Pa. Bred Ninetyprcentmaddie always gives a big effort and will need it against a very strong field.

So there are the Parx horses, the Belmont Stakes and all those other great races, including Saturday’s Met Mile (Breeders’ Cup Classic winner White Abarrio and Pegasus World Cup winner National Treasure) and divisional champion Idiomatic in the Ogden Phipps.

It is going to be some scene at Saratoga this week and if you can’t get there, come on out to Parx to watch on Saturday when there will be live racing, including the $75,000 PTHA President’s Cup for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on grass, scheduled for just about 2 hours period to the Belmont Stakes and the culmination of a fascinating Triple Crown season.

Latest Articles

Plan your next party or function at PARX Racing today. Whether you're watching a race, hosting a dinner, or a corporate event.

Plan An Event

Let's Go Racing TV Show

Catch the news every Saturday at 10am on NBC Sports Philadelphia!

Check out Let’s Go Racing PARX YouTube Channel