Downpour spoils first day at Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Steady rain starting mid-morning made for a soupy track and a grandstand full of umbrellas on the first day of Saratoga Race Course's 40-day meet, its longest since 1882.

About 11/2 inches of rain fell from about 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. On-track handle was $3,130,756, a 14.3 percent decrease from last year's opening day. A crowd of 23,178 showed up, but that number was down 8.9 percent.

Still, New York Racing Association President Charles Hayward told the Daily Racing Form he was pleased with the turnout.

"I was happy with the way the racing fields held together — we had two great stakes," he said. "I think it's a good start."

Le Mi Geaux rallied from well behind a blistering pace and overtook favored Stopspending Maria to win the featured $100,000 Schuylerville Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 1½ lengths.

Apprentice jockey Freddie Lenclud rode the Richard Dutrow-trained filly, who benefitted from a four-horse battle for the early lead.

"We were supposed to be really close to the lead, like she did last time, but she didn't break as sharp, and there was a lot of speed," said Lenclud, who got his first Spa victory.

The win was the second in three starts for Le Mi Geaux, who ran 6 furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:13.67 and earned $60,000 for owner Landon B. Robbins III.

In the other stakes race, Vineyard Haven came back from seven months off to win the $75,000 James Marvin by 13/4 lengths over Half Metal Jacket.

The Weather Channel's forecast for Saturday is partly cloudy with a high of 90 degrees. Danny Meyer, head of the Union Square Hospitality Group, which operates eateries at the track, told DRF he's ready to move on from Friday's dismal scene.

"I'm disappointed only because I would have loved to have seen a sea of people enjoying themselves," he said. "I have a pretty strong hunch it's not going to rain for forty days and nights."