Saratoga Notebook: Workouts, Other Activities Lead to Spa Opener

Multiple stakes winner Forest Secrets had the final tuneup for her start in the Go for Wand on Sunday with a five-furlong work in 1:02 Monday morning over the Oklahoma training track.

The 134th season of racing in Saratoga begins Wednesday. The 36-day meeting runs through Labor Day, Sept. 2. There is a 70 percent chance of heavy thunderstorms Tuesday afternooon. Wednesday is expected to be sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s.

In preparation for the meet, the New York Racing Association held the 22nd annual open house at the track on Sunday. NYRA officials said a record crowd of 19,200 people attended the open house, which included several non-betting steeplechase and flat races.

The National Museum of Racing held its annual SaratogaPreview Program Monday evening in the Hall of Fame room. On the panel were NYRA chairman Barry K. Schwartz, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, trainer Kenny McPeek and his wife, Sue, and handicapper Nick Kling.

As dozens of horse trailers arrived at Saratoga Race Course and were unloaded of their cargo on the warm, sunny morning, Forest Secrets turned in her work under exercise rider Bobby McKnight. Donna Ward, who trains the filly with her husband, John T. Ward Jr., characterized the breeze as an "slow mile."

"She basically worked five-eighths and galloped out a mile," Donna Ward said. "I had her in 1:01 3/5 and she galloped out a full mile in 1:44 3/5."

Forest Secrets is 1-for-4 this season. After ending Summer Colony's six-race winning streak in the Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park, she was beaten in two races at Churchill Downs, the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap and the Fleur de Lis.

Dozens of stalls in the barns on the Saratoga backstretch were still empty Monday morning, some 15 hours after the last race had been run Sunday afternoon, the final day of the spring-summer meeting at Belmont Park. By midday Tuesday, though, the move from upstate from suburban New York will be complete and approximately 1,800 horses will be in residence in Saratoga.

Around the clubhouse and grandstand, mutuel machines and conncession equipment arrived on large trucks. The infield Matrix video boards and the tote boards completed their journey from Belmont Park at 10:30 a.m.

Many of the stars of trainer Bobby Frankel's 30-horse Saratoga stable were unloaded by assistant trainer Jose Cuevas and his staff. In the first group to arrive were Acorn winner You, who his scheduled to run in the Test Saturday; Tates Creek and Beefeater Baby, both headed for the Diana on Saturday; Lido Palace, who will try to win the Whitney Handicap for a second year in a row on Aug. 3; and Medaglia d'Oro, the Belmont Stakes runner-up, who is being pointed for the Jim Dandy on Aug. 4 and the $1 million Travers on Aug. 24.

Last year, Frankel won 10 of 21 starts and six stakes.

John Ward's stable shipped to Saratoga from Lexington, Ky. on July 18 to prepare for what will be a busy first week in stakes races. Besides Forest Secrets, Ward will saddle John Oxley's newly acquired Mike's Wildcat in the Schuylerville and Snow Dance in the Diana on Saturday. Snow Dance, winless in her last two starts, emerged as a stakes caliber turf horse at Saratoga last summer. She crushed an allowance field earlly in the meet and picked up her first graded stakes win in the Lake Placid.

Ward said he is planning to start a number of promising 2-year-olds during the meet, including Perfect Story, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Point Given by Tale of the Cat; Maxamax, a Mr. Prospector colt out of Maxzene; and Sky Mesa, a half-brother to Monthir.

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