Saratoga Diary: Clubhouse Sticker Stickler

Saratoga Diary: Clubhouse Sticker Stickler
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On Sunday, Saratoga ran its Ballerina Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. I) for fillies and mares. But it was the woman known as the "Sticker Nazi," tip-toeing through the lower regions of the clubhouse, who riveted the fans' attention.

Despite sections in which more than half the reserved seats were unused because of the cold weather and rain, the resolute usher continued to bunch people up in the places that were assigned to them, as opposed to letting them spread out in order to be comfortable.

Fans in the Sticker Nazi's section – many of whom have been sitting in the same reserved seats for a dozen years – complained that they can't concentrate on their handicapping because of persistent policing. Time after time during the course of an afternoon's action, they are hassled to produce the stickers which prove that they've purchased their tickets, and the same aggravation goes to people in sections adjacent, because the Sticker Nazi knows no boundaries.

Nevertheless, maybe it's just the frustration from not picking winners that has left folks discombobulated. Sunday, of all days, should have been one of calm. Favorites or near-favorites won six of the10 races on the card, a percentage that was greater than most afternoons of the tricky meet.

In escalating order, the payoffs on $2 win tickets were $2.90, $4.50, $4.60, $5.70, $5.70 and $5.90. Nevertheless, each time a horse that figured was needed to complete a winning daily double or Pick 3 or 4, something oddball ensued and a long shot came in to ruin it.

Regardless, Dubai Escapade, a daughter of Awesome Again  , capped off a most profitable junket for the sheikhs from the Middle East. Trained by Eoin Harty, the Darley Stable standard-bearer -- a $2 million purchase as a 2-year-old -- won as she pleased in the Ballerina, sprinting clear of her field with a hand-ride by Edgar Prado. It was the sixth win in eight starts for the handsome bay filly, who, in winning the 7 furlong race recorded her first grade I triumph.

In Dubai Escapade's last start at 1-5 in the Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) at Calder, she failed to get the lead and finished next to last. In all five of her victories, she has taken a back seat to no one. And, sticker or not, up front is the right place for her in the early stages of the race in order for her to be a winner.

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