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The 2017 Saratoga Awards

The 2017 Saratoga Awards

Horse of the Meet: Gun Runner
This meet turned into a complete exhibition of greatness for Gun Runner. He absolutely loved running at Saratoga, and the feeling was mutual – the fans loved to watch him run. He completely dominated both the Grade 1 Whitney and the Grade 1 Woodward, and in the process, became the number-one horse in the country. He leaves Saratoga as the favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the leading candidate for Horse of the Year honors.

Older Male of the Meet: Gun Runner
Obvious choice for this award as nobody touched him all meet long. After a solid effort in the Grade 1 Travers here last year (finishing third to Arrogate), Gun Runner came back to Saratoga again looking up at Arrogate in the standings, but by meet’s end, he jumped up to the top spot. His two back-to-back blowout wins were a pleasure to watch.

Older Female of the Meet: Lady Eli
If not for Gun Runner, this would have been the horse of the meet! She had a flare for the dramatic, breaking through the gate before the race in the Grade 1 Diana, but still earned a victory. She then came back in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa and stomped her competition. It was a touching moment for Lady Eli, as the Ballston Spa was her last career race at Saratoga. This is a champion that we won’t forget for a long time.

3 Year Old Male of the Meet: Voodoo Song
This horse defies logic! He won FOUR times at Saratoga, practically unheard of nowadays. Running back on very short rest, Voodoo Song won wire-to-wire in the Grade 3 Saranac to close out his incredible meet. Even though it was just a Grade 3, he still had to fend off the undefeated Bricks and Mortar and the talented Yoshida. Impressive to say the least, especially off of only ten days’ rest.

3 Year Old Female of the Meet: Abel Tasman
Came to The Spa and won the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks over Elate by a dramatic head in a dueling stretch run. Elate went on to win the Grade 1 Alabama, which even further boosts Abel Tasman’s resume. Elate does deserve mention, though, as she would have probably won this award if not for a terrific ride by Mike Smith on Abel Tasman in the Coaching Club.

2 Year Ole Male of the Meet: Sporting Chance
The Coach, D. Wayne Lukas, captured his record eighth Grade 1 Hopeful victory with this colt. After dominating a maiden special weight on opening weekend, Sporting Chance came back in the Hopeful and won by a head despite bolting 50 yards from the wire after shying away from a left-handed whip given by Luis Saez. This colt has a distance pedigree, so you can bet that the Kentucky Derby is now the goal.

2 Year Old Female of the Meet: Orbolution
Let’s give it up for this turf filly! She switched over to the lawn upon arriving at Saratoga and loved the surface, earning two blowout victories. Her win in the P. G. Johnson to close out the meet will most likely make her one of the top betting choices heading into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Sprinter of the Meet: Drefong
He came to Saratoga off of an eventful trip at Del Mar, where he threw the jockey off right at the start of the race. No such thing happened this go around, as he took the field wire-to-wire in the Grade 1 Forego. His dominating win made him three-for-three against his up-and-coming rival Mind Your Biscuits, while also setting him up nicely for a repeat win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Owner of the Meet: Michael Dubb
It wouldn’t be a New York race meet without Michael Dubb winning the owner’s title. However, it was a big win for Dubb this year, as he overtook Klaravich Stables for this prestigious award.

Trainer of the Meet: Todd Pletcher
Not so fast, Chad Brown! Last year, Brown took the owners title from Pletcher, but this year, the Toddster struck back, defeating Brown 40-39. Like it or not, these two are going to battle it out for the award every year for the foreseeable future. Both trainers have built their stables to the point where dominance is the norm.

Jockey of the Meet: Jose Ortiz
The Ortiz brothers were the story of the meet, but in the end, Jose outlasted Irad to win the Saratoga riding title, 58-53. Jose Ortiz has become the most consistent rider on the NYRA circuit and has solid connections with nearly everyone on the backside. The sky is the limit for this young rider.

Race of the Meet: The Travers
The long-standing highlight of the meet is seldom disappointing. This year, much like last year, the Travers was completely wide open. Also like last year, Bob Baffert shipped in and got all the money! West Coast took the field wire-to-wire to win, while the scrappy Gunnevera was a solid second.

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