In one of the most amazing finishes ever seen at Saratoga Race Course (or anywhere else, for that matter), six horses finished within a neck of each other in Saturday’s ninth race, an allowance run at 1-1/16 miles on the inner turf track.
The eventual winner, Grassy, stumbled at the break, and came from the clouds to get up and beat Cherokee Speed by a nose. The following four finishers, all with a nose margin over the next, were Good Prospect, Rock in Bage, Yankee Empire, and Boots Ahead.
When the horses paraded back after the race to be unsaddled, they were met with a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
“It was a great finish and I am a very lucky guy, because I was on the right side of it,” said Christophe Clement, Grassy’s trainer. “But the crowd – they appreciated the finish and they were clapping before the numbers even came on the board. It was spectacular and I was very proud to be a part of that.”
Jockey Richard Migliore, who wasn’t even part of the dramatics, was downright giddy when asked about the race.
“That might be the best race you will ever see in your entire life,” Migliore said. “I was delirious! That finish was Saratoga in a nutshell.”
Jockeys Kent Desormeaux and John Velazquez, who rode second-place finisher Cherokee Speed and fourth-place finisher Rock in Bage, respectively, were most excited by the reaction from the crowd.
“In all my years of racing in New York, the crowd roared more after that race than I have ever heard,” said Desormeaux, who has ridden in multiple Travers and Belmont Stakes. “I mean, the crowd went bananas. I have won a lot of races here, and that was as loud as it gets.”
“It was incredibly exciting to see the reactions of the fans as the horses returned to be unsaddled,” said Velazquez.
(Photos courtesy of Bud Morton via Flickr and NYRA)