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On Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel, Mugshots Bro (Jailhouse Jesse) did something he had never done before. The Lisa Zabielski trainee went back-to-back in the $15,000 Open Trot. Mugshots Bro went coast-to-coast last Sunday (June 9th) as he set a new lifetime mark trotting to victory in 1:55 with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. On a rainy Fathers Day afternoon, the method was different but the results were the same for Mugshots Bro who parlayed a second-over trip to victory. The seven year old high-stepper picked up the cover of rival Cash Me Out and tipped three-wide turning for home. Mugshots Bro charged right past the competition and drew away to win in 1:56 over a track labeled 'sloppy.' The win was the third in Opens in the last eight days for Zabielski as her Osprey Blue Chip (Brett Crawford) scored in Thursday's distaff to add to the pair of Open Trot victories for her recent acquisition Mugshots Bro. On Sunday, he paid $8.40 to win and led an exacta and triple with Cartier Volo (Frank Coppola Jr) second and Dragin The Wagon (Aaron Byron) third that returned $61.50 and $229.50, respectively. The second consecutive score in the Sunday feature for Mugshots Bro marked the third career win in the Open Trot for the rising star. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post set for 12 Noon. Mike Sardella

In A Single Bound (Roll With Joe) has begun to establish himself as a harness racing force in the Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel this season and on Saturday night, the Monica Krist trainee scored his third win of the year against the track's top pacers. Leading driver Billy Dobson took In A Single Bound back early as the fractions in the $15,000 feature were sizzling. Following an early speed duel, the race's favorite Deetzy emerged with the lead but after pacing his first half in 54.4, In A Single Bound was right alongside to pressure the favorite heading towards three quarters. In A Single Bound cleared the lead and by the time the other closers shifted gears, they were too late. In A Single Bound recorded his third Open Pace victory this season, stopping the timer in 1:52.3. Lachie Maguire N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) who was involved in the early tussle for the top came flying in the stretch after shaking loose and wound up as the runner-up in the feature. Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Jordan Derue) closed to be third. In A Single Bound paid $7.10 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $63.50 and $276, respectively. Dobson, who has an overwhelming lead in the driver standings as he seeks his seventh local driving title, piloted three winners on the Saturday card. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time of 12 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Osprey Blue Chip (American Ideal) is in the midst of her best stretch since coming to Saratoga Casino Hotel a couple seasons ago. A winner of four of her last seven starts leading up to Thursday afternoon's feature at the Spa, Osprey Blue Chip was assigned the rail for her second try in the local Open for fillies and mares. Brett Crawford picked up the catch-drive for trainer Lisa Zabielski in a race in which Osprey Blue Chip was dismissed at odds of 21-1. After getting away third, Osprey Blue Chip stuck to the pylon path and as pocket-sitting Sandy Sue popped the pocket around the final turn, the longshot gobbled up ground on the inside turning for home. Sandy Sue (Billy Dobson), a winner of two consecutive Opens for distaffers heading into Thursday's try in the $15,000 feature, came up second-best as Osprey Blue Chip surged up the passing lane before stopping the timer in 1:54.4. Sandy Sue was the runner-up while the favored Made Of Jewels As (Jay Randall) had to settle for third. Osprey Blue Chip's win price of $45.80 is the largest for an Open winner at Saratoga since back in February when Aberforth pulled off a shocker in the Open Trot and returned $79.00 to win. The exacta paid $227 while the triple returned $1,033 in the six-horse feature for the ladies on Thursday afternoon. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening with a first post time set for 6:45pm. Mike Sardella

Wednesday afternoon's harness racing card at Saratoga Casino Hotel was dominated by red hot reinsman Billy Dobson. The track's defending top driver is having a sensational 2019 campaign and has enjoyed a huge last few weeks of action in the sulky. On Wednesday, the 35 year old piloted four winners including one while sitting behind former Saratoga Trotter of the Year Twisted Pretzel (Crazed). The Scott Mongeon-trained Twisted Pretzel was named the track's top trotter in 2017 and enjoyed a solid '18 campaign as well. The nine year old was the odds-on favorite in his conditional race on Wednesday's afternoon program at the Spa and Dobson picked up the catch-drive behind the longtime Saratoga veteran high-stepper. Twisted Pretzel appeared content to sit the pocket after giving way to a rival approaching the opening quarter but as the trotters made their way to the half, Dobson powered the 3-5 favorite out and cruised past the leader before drawing away to win in 1:56.2 for his first victory of the season. Now approaching $450,000 in lifetime earnings, Twisted Pretzel has spent almost all his career racing right here at Saratoga. As far as Dobson, the beat just goes on. The talented reinsman scored a grand slam on Wednesday adding four more wins to already huge lead in the driver standings as the Michigan native pursues his seventh local driving title in the last decade. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post time scheduled for 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

While Jimmy Nickerson’s name is a somewhat new addition to the harness racing race programs at Saratoga Casino Hotel, the veteran trainer is certainly not new to the sport of harness racing. A native of Maine, the avid golf enthusiast came to New York a little over a decade ago when he and his current wife Heidi Rohr relocated their stable to a farm in Middletown. From that farm, Nickerson and Rohr’s horses competed at a host of tracks and the Rohr trainees could regularly be found racing at Yonkers with others making the trek to Pennsylvania or the much closer trip to Monticello. Though they raced members of their stable at several tracks, Rohr and Nickerson often came to Saratoga Casino Hotel and have always enjoyed success here. In fact, back in 2009, Rohr was named the Peerless McGrath Award winner at Saratoga, an award that recognizes the track’s top breakthrough trainer for that season. That wouldn’t be the last honor bestowed to Rohr either. After a move to Saratoga and a few more solid local seasons, Rohr was ready to take over the top spot. In 2013, she was named Trainer of the Year just one season before winning her first training title at Saratoga. Rohr finished up the ’14 campaign with the most wins among local conditioners despite still racing at multiple tracks in the northeast. Rohr was named Horsewoman of the Year in ’13 and ’14 as well after establishing herself as a force at the Spa. Rohr and Nickerson managed their stable together for more than a decade before Rohr backed out of the day-to-day activities of the barn following the birth of their daughter Emery. At that point, Nickerson officially took over the reins and has continued to enjoy success. After finishing last season in a tie for eighth place among local trainers, Nickerson is having a terrific 2019 campaign thus far. Heidi Rohr Despite the fact that he brings numerous trainees to Massachusetts to compete at Plainridge during the week, Nickerson came into last week’s action at the Spa in a tie for second among local trainers in ’19. Thriving with a stable that is notably pacer-heavy, Nickerson has done his damage this season despite not necessarily having one or two standouts do the majority of his barn’s winning. One level where we have seen Nickerson and Rohr trainees thrive in their now decade-plus at Saratoga is in the Opens, mostly for pacers. Rohr’s Bell On Wheels was named Filly and Mare Pacer of the Year back in 2013 and ever since then, the husband-wife led stable has featured numerous top distaffers who have thrived against the track’s top lady pacers throughout the years. The most recent Nickerson trainee to compete and thrive in the Fillies and Mares Open is Sandy Sue. The four year old mare came to town last month out of the stable of the top trainer in North America. Ron Burke has been the winningest trainer in harness racing the last several years and sent Sandy Sue to Nickerson following a stint in the Midwest. In her local debut, Sandy Sue finished second after getting a pocket trip in the $15,000 Open for the ladies. After two straight ho-hum tries, she started from the rail in final feature in the month of May. Leading driver Billy Dobson, who has sat behind the speedy mare in each of her local starts, secured a journey on the front end in that race. Sandy Sue went coast-to-coast and added her name to the lengthy list of distaffers to score Open wins for Nickerson and Rohr in the last decade at Saratoga. Last Thursday afternoon, the up-and-comer was assigned the outside post in a field of seven in the Fillies and Mares Open as she looked to prove her first feature victory was no fluke. Dobson was again aggressive in the early going and Sandy Sue overcame her outside post to settle in on the lead in a fast first quarter paced in 27 seconds flat. While racing with odds of 5-1 attached to her, Sandy Sue led every step of the way on Thursday and held off late surges in the stretch by two rivals before stopping the timer in 1:53.3. The win was one of three on the afternoon for Nickerson-trained mares each of which had Dobson piloting. The three-win afternoon for Nickerson was enough to vault him into second in the trainer standings and while his stable has thrived with mares this year, Jimmy has enjoyed plenty of success in the Saturday Open Pace as well. In 2017, Rohr and Nickerson won the regular Saturday feature five times with four different horses. Veteran pacer Deetzy was the only two-time winner out of the stable in the Open, scoring once in a lifetime best 1:50 flat and subsequently was a nominee for Pacer of the Year in ’17. And it wasn’t the last we’d see Deetzy thrive among the track’s top pacers. Last season, Deetzy accounted for three of the four Open Pace wins for Nickerson at Saratoga as the then six year old utilized a blend of early speed and closing ability to put together another six-figure campaign, his second straight. Still one of his stable’s top stars in ‘19, the well-traveled Deetzy returned to the Spa to compete in the final Open Pace in the month of May. He finished third in a 1:50.2 mile and thus was the favorite in the $15,000 feature contested the following week. Driver Shawn Gray powered the seven year old out to the early lead, a lead the classy pacer would never relinquish before stopping the timer in 1:51.3. It was just another win in an Open for Nickerson who has rattled off such victories for more than the last decade at the Spa. Though his stable does send out some trotters from time to time, the barn seems to be very pacer-heavy spanning the levels from occasionally the bottom to more commonly the top. And though his stable splits its starts between Saratoga and other tracks, with Open Pacers like Sandy Sue and Deetzy leading the way, Jimmy Nickerson could well wind up back at the top of the trainer standings at the Spa just as his wife Heidi Rohr was just a few years ago. Live racing takes place every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday starting at 12 Noon and on Saturday evening beginning at 6:45pm. By Mike Sardella Special to the Saratogian Reprinted with permission of The Record

New York Sire Stakes action took center stage on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel as three year old trotting fillies were featured. There were two harness racing divisions for sophomore fillies that went for purses of $90,050 and $88,450 and driver Jim Morrill Jr. swept the co-features. Quincy Blue Chip (Chapter Seven-Sirenuse-Cantab Hall) was fresh off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic Final contested at Vernon Downs two weeks ago and wound up as the public's 3-5 betting favorite on Sunday coming off her score in the $209,500 race. Morrill wasted little time putting the Gareth Dowse-trained filly on the front end and once they got there, they would never look back. The talented sophomore was strong throughout and stopped the timer in 1:54, a new track record for three year old trotting fillies. Winndevie (Jason Bartlett) was a worthy adversary for the new record holder but came up second best while Lifetime Credit (John Stark Jr) finished third. Quincy Blue Chip has won four of her six races in the '19 campaign and now has career earnings of over $350,000 in just fourteen lifetime starts. Morrill also sat behind former track record holder Fad Finance when she set the previous track mark of 1:54.1 in a NYSS try in August of 2016. The winner of the $90,050 division for the three year olds prevailed despite being parked every step of the mile. Sweet Chapter (Chapter Seven- Mom's Sweetie Pie- Donerail) floated out early but with a host of leavers to her inside got hung out. Rival Stella Jane (Jason Bartlett) also raced the mile parked out but fought gamely every step of the way. Stella Jane struck the lead turning for home but Jim Morrill Jr. fanned Sweet Chapter off that one's cover and they powered down the center of the track to take over before stopping the timer in 1:55.4. The win time served as a new lifetime mark for the sophomore filly who is trained by Black Macintosh. Sweet Chapter won for the second time of the season in five starts and has hit the board in each of her tries in 2019. The talented filly paid $11.80 to win in Sunday's mild upset. Stella Jane was a game second while Sensibility (Marcus Miller) earned the show spot. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12 Noon first post.   Mike Sardella

Some Attitude (Somebeachsomewhere) last won the local harness racing Open Pace at Saratoga Casino Hotel in October of 2017. That is, before Saturday night. The Jackie Greene-trained pacer drew the rail in the $15,000 Open Pace and driver Frank Coppola Jr was aggressive in the early going with the five year old who was dismissed at odds of 12-1. Some Attitude, who won an installment of the Open Pace at Plainridge last month, proved up to the task on Saturday after leading every step of the way. Things got dicey for Some Attitude heading to three quarters but he dug in, turning back the late bid from pocket-sitting In A Single Bound (Billy Dobson) in the stretch to prevail in 1:52.3. In A Single Bound came up second-best while longshot Kiwi Tintin N (Jimmy Devaux) earned the show spot. Some Attitude paid $27.40 in the upset win and led an exacta and triple that returned $133 and $418, respectively. Overall, it was the third win in twelve seasonal tries for the Greene trainee who is owned by the Kellogg Racing Stables of Queensbury, NY. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee starting at 12 Noon. New York Sire Stakes will take center stage as three year old trotting fillies are featured. Mike Sardella

Sandy Sue (Shark Gesture) scored her first win in the local Open for fillies and mares at Saratoga Casino Hotel last week for harness racing trainer Jimmy Nickerson and driver Billy Dobson. The four year old mare had one try as the runner-up in the $15,000 Thursday feature before recording the Open win last Thursday. Sandy Sue was assigned the outside post in this week's installment of the Fillies and Mares Open and was thus a 5-1 shot in the wagering despite coming off of the win. Dobson, who holds a huge lead already this year in the driver standings at the Spa, guided the Nickerson trainee out to the front end where she paced a first lap in 56 seconds. After checking in at three quarters in 1:24.3, it appeared Sandy Sue might have had enough but she proved otherwise in the stretch, digging in to hold off pocket-sitting Barynya A (Frank Coppola Jr) and first-over rival Freeze Out (Phil Fluet) to record her second consecutive Open victory. Barynya A was the runner-up while Freeze Out had to settle for third in the mile clocked in 1:53.3. Sandy Sue paid $12.80 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $86.00 and $311.50, respectively. The win in the Open was one of five on the afternoon for Dobson just one day after piloting four winners on Wednesday's card. Live racing resumes on Saturday evening at Saratoga with a 7:05pm first post.   Mike Sardella Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino

With no Open Trot on the docket, the $12,500 Winners Over for trotters was the feature on the Sunday harness racing card at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The race’s favorite was Ulster (Glidemaster), the 2018 Trotter of the Year at the Spa, who was making just his third start of the season. The Amanda Facin trainee finished a strong second in his seasonal debut two weeks ago in the Open but faded in his last start after enduring a difficult journey. Ulster’s regular driver Jay Randall was at the helm once again on Sunday as the veteran high-stepper cruised out to an easy lead. After clicking off a first half of 58.3, Ulster was approached by rival Mugshots Bro (Jimmy Devaux) who rushed up first over to confront the favorite. Those two did battle for a half mile before Ulster put his competition away and recorded the win in 1:56.1, his first victory after his award-winning ’18 campaign. Mugshots Bro was a strong second while Triumphant’s Chip (Steve Genois) came on to be third. Ulster was the 3-5 betting favorite on Sunday and led an exacta and triple that paid $11.60 and $45.60, respectively. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with first post time set for Noon. There will be a carryover of $4,469 to the Pick Five pool on Wednesday with the Pick Five starting in the matinee’s first race.     Mike Sardella

Deetzy (Jereme's Jet) has done plenty of winning in the local harness racing Open Pace over the course of the last few seasons at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Jimmy Nickerson trainee spends much of his time traveling from track to track racing against top-flight competition but has landed back at the Spa for his most recent two starts. Coming off a third place finish in his return to town last week, Deetzy was the public's 6-5 betting favorite on Saturday night. Shawn Gray piloted the seven year old pacer and wasted no time powering him out to the early lead. Deetzy cruised through a first quarter of 27.1 and a half of 56 seconds and had plenty left in the tank for the race's stretch run. Deetzy paced away from his rivals to score in 1:51.3 to record his first victory in the local Open this season and fourth win overall in the 2019 campaign. Panocchio (Gerry Mattison), another Spa veteran, came on to finish second in the $15,000 feature while Carolina Beach (Mark Beckwith) closed to be third to continue his "on the board" streak in the Open Pace. Carolina Beach has now finished second or third in seven consecutive installments of the local feature. Deetzy paid $4.50 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $29.20 and $68.50, respectively. Deetzy's win was one of four on the night for reinsman Shawn Gray who continues to drive at a high percentage in his starts at the Spa. Live racing continues on Sunday at Saratoga with a matinee kicking off at Noon. Mike Sardella

Trainer George Ducharme usually thrives when he brings horses to race at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The veteran conditioner often sends some of his young trainees to town usually in the spring months to compete in races that serve as preps for Sire Stakes harness racing action or in between their stakes tries. On Wednesday afternoon, Ducharme sent two trainees to town and both found their way to the winner's circle. Hanna Dreamgirl (Chapter Seven) recorded a win in her lone NY Sire Stakes try this season and the sophomore proved up to the task in Wednesday's $9,630 co-feature for New York sired trotters. Frank Coppola Jr. piloted the three year old filly and moved her out to the early lead. Hanna Dreamgirl dealt with a parked-out rival but had plenty left to record the win in 1:58. Ducharme and Coppola also teamed up for a victory later in the day with young filly Crystalline (Chapter Seven) who scored for the second consecutive week at the Spa. Coppola drove the winner in the afternoon's other co-feature as Andy Sardella's The Royal Poze (RC Royalty) pulled off the upset at odds of 9-1. The Royal Poze came from off the pace to record a career-best victory in 1:58 in his $9,000 event for New York sired trotters. The Saratoga Hall of Famer Frank Coppola Jr. piloted four winners in total on the matinee card. Live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga with a first post set for Noon.   Mike Sardella

Sunday marked the kickoff to the New York Sire Stakes season at Saratoga Casino Hotel as three year old colt and gelding pacers took center stage on a beautiful afternoon in the Spa City. There were three harness racing divisions of $58,000+ stakes competition and trainer Chris Oakes and driver Tyler Buter stole the show. Buter won four consecutive races at one point on the card including three for Oakes. Two of their victories came in the “big time” Sire Stake races as Shake That House (American Ideal-Shake That Junk-Camluck) and American Mercury (American Ideal-Tessa Hanover-Somebeachsomewhere) scored impressive wins on the matinee card. Shake That House was making his first NYSS start of the year and wound up as the afternoon’s fastest winner, stopping the timer in 1:51.3 while going coast-to-coast to earn the winner’s share of the $58,100 purse. The victory was the third in three starts in 2019 for the superstar pacer and the sixth in eleven career tries. American Mercury had a rematch with rival Hickfromfrenchlick (Mark Macdonald) on Sunday as those two squared off for the second consecutive time in stakes competition. Two weeks ago at Monticello, Hickfromfrenchlick held off the late bid from American Mercury to secure the Sire Stakes score. The two saw their roles reversed on Sunday though as Oakes’ American Mercury got up in the final stride in the $59,200 stakes try to best Hickfromfrenchlick in a mile paced in 1:52. Buter piloted four winners including a pair in Excelsior A competition as he drove Oakes’ Rickybobbynthehaus (American Ideal) to victory and guided Notwithoutafight (Art Major) to a wire-to-wire score for trainer Erv Miller. On a day in which Oakes and Buter scored two victories among the day’s three big Sire Stakes races, the other winner in a $58,100 event was Fromthestartagain (So Surreal-From The Start-Western Terror) who recorded his first Sire Stakes victory, setting a lifetime mark of 1:53 with Jason Bartlett driving for trainer John Grasso.  The next installment of the NYSS at Saratoga will take place in two weeks when three year old trotting fillies are featured on Sunday June 9th. Live racing resumes at the Spa on Wednesday afternoon with a first post time set for 12:00 Noon.     Mike Sardella

Hudson Phil (Shanghai Phil) became the second harness racing horse to win the Open Pace as many as three times this season at Saratoga Casino Hotel when the youngster went coast-to-coast on Saturday night. Hudson Phil joined his stablemate Artful Way as the only three-time Open Pace winners this year and did so in career-best fashion. Jay Randall piloted the Jackie Greene trainee and moved him out to the early lead in the $15,000 installment of the Open Pace. Hudson Phil never faced an anxious moment as he coasted to the wire-to-wire win in 1:50.2, a career-best clocking for the four year old pacer. Victorious in an Open at Plainridge last month, the rising star was the 6-5 betting favorite in Saturday's score as he recorded his fourth victory of 2019. Carolina Beach (Mark Beckwith) closed to be second while Deetzy (Shawn Gray) earned the show spot. The exacta and triple with the favorite on top returned $24.20 and $91.50, respectively. Hudson Phil, who is a new addition to the Open at the Spa this year, has become a force in the first few months of the season and has accounted for three of the six Open Pace victories for Jackie Greene trainees in '19. The win was the 15th in just 46 career starts for the up-and-coming pacer who appears to be hitting his prime. The clocking of 1:50.2 is the fastest for any horse thus far this season at Saratoga. Hudson Phil is owned by the Kellogg Racing Stables of Queensbury, NY. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon with a matinee starting at 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Shezallapples A (Sportswriter) extended her winning streak in Thursday’s installment of the Fillies and Mares Open at Saratoga Casino Hotel. It wasn’t easy for the six year old mare but Shezallapples A would not be denied in the $15,000 harness racing feature, lasting on the lead despite pacing her first quarter in 26.4 and half in 56.2. Bruce Aldrich Jr. piloted the Jose Godinez-trained mare and asked the race’s 6-5 betting favorite to again pick up the pace heading to three quarters with a first-over rival closing in. After trading strides throughout the final turn, Shezallapples found a second wind before being approached by a new pair of challengers. 2018’s defending Co-Horse of the Year Spreester (Jimmy Devaux) came up the passing lane while Coveredndiamonds (Jay Randall) came charging down the center of the track. Shezallapples A won the photo which showed the top three separated by only a head. The six participants in the Open were all within two lengths of each other at the finish. Shezallapples A win came in 1:53.4 and was the fifth in her last six starts and her second straight in the local Open. Coveredndiamonds N came up just inches shy of the win and had to settle for second-best while Spreester was third in her return to the Open. The exacta and triple returned $23.80 and $110.00, respectively. The victory was the third consecutive in the Thursday feature for trainer Jose Godinez whose Westsluckycam prevailed the week before Shezallapples A rattled off her back-to-back jacks in the $15,000 Open for distaffers. Live racing resumes on Saturday night at Saratoga with a first post time set for 6:45pm.     Mike Sardella

There were three harness racing events for New York sired trotters contested on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga Casino Hotel which served as co-features. Going for purses of $9,000 per division, the favorites did not thrive. Jackie Greene's Grammy Winner (Credit Winner) was the heaviest bet and fastest of the winners of the three divisions as the four year old mare went coast-to-coast in a career-best 1:56.4. Jay Randall piloted Grammy Winner who was coming off a start in which she was parked the mile. A five-time winner in 2018, Grammy Winner held off a late charge from her race's favorite Xcuseme (John Stark Jr) who closed sharply but came up second-best. Grammy Winner paid $8.10 to win in the mild upset. Grammy Winner wasn't the only trotter to set a lifetime mark in the afternoon's co-features as Im Tp's Crazed Bro (Crazed) posted a career-best effort in his $9,000 division for New York sired trotters. Brian Cross aggressively moved the Scott Mongeon trainee out to the early lead and the sophomore high-stepper held firm to register his fourth win in the '19 campaign. Stopping the timer in 1:57.1, I'm Tp's Crazed Bro sprung the upset at odds of 6-1. Dave Dewhurst's Tournament (Deweycheatumnhowe) also was dismissed at odds of 6-1 as he repeated on Wednesday. Jimmy Devaux piloted the four year old who was forwardly placed early to overcome post eight. Tournament surged up the inside and scored by the slimmest of margins, prevailing in 1:58 for the second consecutive week. When live racing continues on Thursday afternoon at Saratoga, there will be a Pick Five carryover of $8,021. The Pick Five begins in the matinee's first race. First post time is set for 12:00 Noon.   Mike Sardella

Driver Jay Randall is having another terrific year at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The veteran reinsman sits third in the local driver standings at the conclusion of this week's harness racing action. Heading into Sunday's card, Randall had a difficult choice to make. He was listed as the driver for both Ulster (Glidemaster) and Bobs Hope (Donato Hanover) in the afternoon's $15,000 Open Trot. Ulster, who is the defending Trotter of the Year at the Spa and was piloted by Randall is all eight of his Open wins last season, was making his 2019 debut. Bobs Hope has been the dominant force in this year's installments of the Sunday feature at Saratoga. Randall drove him to all four of his Open wins heading into Sunday's try. Randall opted for Ulster, who one would think he would now stick with moving forward. Jimmy Devaux subsequently picked up the catch-drive behind the Amanda Kelley-trained Bobs Hope, who was the public's 3-5 betting favorite on Sunday despite being assigned the outside post. Ulster made it to the front end and was untested through three quarters in a reasonable 1:26.2. Bobs Hope, who left to get away third, revved up the engine and powered up to challenge Ulster around the final turn. Those two squared off in the stretch before Bobs Hope got the better of Ulster, who had to settle for second in his return. Bobs Hope stopped the timer in 1:55.3 to record his fifth Open win in seven tries at Saratoga in the '19 campaign. Ulster was a strong second in his seasonal debut while Freddie Mac (Bruce Aldrich Jr) earned the show spot. For Devaux, the win was one of four on the day for the red-hot reinsman who also piloted four winners on the Saturday card. As for Randall, the regular driver for the Trotter of the Year at the Spa in three of the last six seasons, he stuck with Ulster who gave every indication in his return that '19 may be another terrific campaign for the veteran trotter. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:00 Noon first post. There will be a Pick Five carryover of $2,644 on Wednesday with the Pick Five starting in the matinee's first race.   Mike Sardella

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