Trainer Weaver Clicking at Saratoga
by Blood-Horse Staff
Date Posted: 8/2/2013 2:51:03 PM
Last Updated: 8/4/2013 1:54:37 PM
George Weaver trains Lighthouse Bay, who won the Prioress Stakes on July 27.
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No stranger to winning races at Saratoga Race Course, trainer George Weaver is off to a strong start again in 2013.
A former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher, who have combined to win 607 races and 15 training titles at Saratoga, Weaver entered the Aug. 2 card tied for third in the standings with five wins from 11 starters, a 45% strike rate.
Weaver also had one second and one third (64% in the money), and purses of $378,423, which ranked fourth.
"You never know with Saratoga," Weaver said Friday morning. "When it gets started you hope you have some live horses and you do what you're supposed to do, but it's very tough to win up here. You have to catch the right horses to be in against and you have to have good trips. There are so many things that go into it, but things have fallen into place. We're very happy."
Weaver went 11-for-58 with purses of $543,259 at Saratoga in 2012, and won with seven of 52 starters in 2011, earning purses of $332,290.
"We have had very good meets here, but I think everybody has got the Saratoga meet in their minds and they want to come up here and win," he said. "They're thinking about it and everybody's watching. This is a place where everybody wants to have a favorable impression."
The biggest win for Weaver came July 27 when Lighthouse Bay upset the Prioress Stakes (gr. I) at odds of 21-1. It was his first win at that level since Saratoga County took the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in 2004.
"That was awesome," Weaver said of Lighthouse Bay's victory for Richlyn Farm. "I'm ecstatic for myself, our staff, the owners, the filly herself, (jockey) Joe Rocco Jr. That was very exciting. It's good to do that every once in a while. I know people know we can win races, but a lot of times if you don't come up with those stakes horses, people are like, 'Well, he's good, but he doesn't really develop top horses.'
"You have to get a top horse in your barn to develop one," he added. "It's good. That's part of the gratification of the win. People are going to look at our barn and say these guys have done a nice job developing this filly and brought her into this race and won a grade I with her. It's nice."
Weaver indicated that the Test Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 24 would be next for Lighthouse Bay, a homebred 3-year-old Speightstown filly.
"There's really not a whole lot of options," Weaver said. "Once you win a grade I, it's not like you go around trying to duck horses. The Test is a very prestigious race, it's right here, the timing's right. She's never run seven furlongs, but that's why they call it the Test. It's going to be a test."
Weaver's most recent win came in the fifth race Aug. 1 with Rapid Burn, a 3-year-old Bernstein gelding who captured the one-mile maiden claimer by 2 1/2 lengths on the inner turf as the favorite.
"We'll probably try to run him back here," he said. "He was in for a $35,000 claim yesterday. Depending on how things go, perhaps some type of starter allowance would be available. That might be a good way to run him without him having to be for sale and see if he wants to continue to improve. In the back of my mind, that's what we'll try to catch next time around."
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