Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Post Time: Fashion Alert impresses in Schuylerville

By Gene Kershner 

SARATOGA SPRINGS - High class fashion is kind of Todd Pletcher's thing.

The well-dressed trainer arrived in the winner's circle for the first time at the 146st Saratoga meeting in the third race when his ace 2-year-old filly Fashion Alert gutted out a dueling stretch drive with Take Charge Brandi to win the 96th edition of the Schuylerville Stakes.

She won the 6-furlong race in 1:11.78 beating the game daughter of Giant's Causeway by 1 1/2 lenghts. Tulira's Star completed the cold trifecta for trainer Rick Mettee.  Fashion Alert paid $2.40 to win for her backers and $2.10 for place and show. Take Charge Brandi paid $3.40 for the place and $2.20 for the show. The $2 trifecta paid $9.20 as the heavy favorite was Pletcher's first 2-year-old winner of the meet.

"She trained really well this winter and came in with a big reputation and she's followed suit by winner her first two wins in stakes, we're lucky to have her" said Pletcher. "She showed some guts. I know that Wayne likes his filly a lot. They got into a prolonged speed duel and you could tell they were both getting a little tired. But she showed some guts and determination," said Pletcher.

A win on opening day means a lot from the six-time Eclipse winning trainer. "You always want to get that first one out of the way and just missed in the first race. We were happy to get today in the Schuylerville, a race we've always held in high regard," said Pletcher.

It's a beautiful opening day here at the Spa, 77 degrees and comfortable for a solid crowd of race-goers.

Some things just don't change  much here in Saratoga when it comes to Pletcher, fashion and arriving promptly in the winner's circle with a 2-year-old stakes winner.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

Running notebook: Take it easy

For those of you looking to run a little slower than normal, I'll have a story in Sunday's News on that subject. What's more, it's for a great cause. "A Walk in Lauren's Shoes" may make you take that morning run a bit less for granted.

That's just one of many races coming up this weekend. Here's the schedule, courtesy of

* Buffalo Orienteering Club 5-Mile Trail Run, Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park, 6:30 p.m. tonight, 652-8727. No awards, but there is a postrace party and a $10 entry fee.

* Subaru Buffalo 4 Mile Chase, Elmwood & Bidwell in Buffalo, 7 p.m. Friday, 881-1652. A News Runner of the Year race, there are some fast runners coming to town. Hope you saw today's story about how this race got started.  

* Laurel Run, 8K, Silver Creek Village Square, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, 661-4735.

* Peaceprints 5K, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Saturday, 856-6131.

* Crabapple 5K Run, Stiglmeier Park in Cheektowaga, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 897-7207. This is a nice little race on a flat course that's been around for years and years.

* Niagara Catholic Alumni Run, 5K 520 66th St. in Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Saturday, 531-6198. No, you don't have to be a graduate to run this.

* Character Chase 5K, 150 Pleasant Ave. in Hamburg, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 648-5835.

* A Walk in Lauren's Shoes, 3K, Woodlawn Beach Picnic Grove in Blasdell, 10 a.m. Sunday, 432-3725. The postrace party runs until 4 p.m.

* St. Mary's Church Chowder Chase 5K, 6919 Transit Road in East Amherst, 11:15 a.m. Sunday, 636-4617. Some would argue that this race is actually in Swormville, while others say it is Swormsville. Swormville is the legal name.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Schuylerville headlines Spa opening day card

By Gene Kershner 

SARATOGA SPRINGS - It's game on at Saratoga Race Course tomorrow afternoon.

The 146th meeting opens on Friday afternoon at the historic race track headlined by a Grade 3 $150,000 Schuylerville that drew five 2-year-old fillies.  The race, which typically is the first graded stake of the meet, will be run for the 96th time as the third race on the 10-race opening day card.

Another highlight of the opening weekend is the placing of the $500,000 Grade 1 Diana on Saturday afternoon, moving the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks to Sunday.

In the Schuylerville, the deadly Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez combination will be the team to beat for owners George Bolton and Barry Hall who will send out the 3-5 favorite, Fashion Alert. The daughter of Old Fashioned out of a Tiznow mare broke her maiden in a non-graded stake at Belmont Park and is clearly the class of the field.

Here's a look at the field for the G3 Schuylerville (post position, trainer, jockey and morning line odds in parenthesis).

1 - Mast Cove (Robb, Betancourt, 20-1). The daughter of Derby runner Cowboy Cal broke her maiden in a $30K maiden claimer last time out at Delaware Park after two so-so efforts at Pimlico. Stretches out to 6 furlongs for the first tie and will have her word cut out against this group.

2 - Tulira's Star (Mettee, Bravo, 5-2). Trainer Rick Mettee sends out this daughter of Congrats for Team Valor International and will look to move forward off an impressive maiden score at Arlington Park on the Polytrack. She was heavily bet winning her debut and the second place finisher came out of that race to break her maiden. Contender.

3 - Evrybdymstgetstonz (Contessa, Montanez, 12-1) About the only thing this filly has is the best name in the field. All kidding aside, the daughter of Bustin Stones broke her maiden winning by 6 lengths at Belmont Park on July 2. She'll contend to hit the board coming off a sharp 3-furlong workout on Monday morning.

4 - Fashion Alert (Pletcher, Velazquez, 3-5). The class of the field will be at a very short price for the dynamic duo. She won the $100K Astoria by 4 3/4-lengths after a bad start, so let's see what she can do if she breaks well. It's tough to see her anywhere other than on top.

5 - Take Charge Brandi (Lukas, Lanerie, 6-1). The daughter of Giant's Causeway out of a Seeking the Gold mare obviously wants to go longer and should keep moving forward.

Post Time Outlook: 1 - Fashion Alert; 2 - Take Charge Brandi and; 3 - Tulira's Star

Trifecta play: $2 Trifecta - 4 over 2,5 over 2,3,5 (cost - $12)

The other stakes race on the opening day card is the $100,000 Sir Cat to be run at a mile on the inner turf. The race has attracted some high profile 3-year-olds that were on the Triple Crown trail including Derby runner and Tampa Bay Derby winner 7-Ring Weekend (10-1) and Preakness runner 3-Pablo Del Monte (2-1).

Hall of Famer Velazquez will ride Ring Weekend and European jockey Frankie Dettori will ride Pablo for Wesley Ward. This is Dettori's first-ever meet at Saratoga.

Those two will be challenged by the top two choices on the morning line, 5-Tourist (8-5) and 1-Storming Inti (9-5). Tourist is coming off two straight wins on the weeds and will employ the services of top jockey Joel Rosario to ride for Bill Mott. Storming Inti was third in the $500K Penn Mile at Penn National in May and has battled well in graded company.

With an inside post, early speed and the dangerous Castellano in the irons, I'm going to favor Storming Inti to get the job done in the Sir Cat. He's been working well for Chad Brown and should turn back these foes on Friday afternoon.  We'll look for 6-J to the Croft to split the exacta with Jose Lezcano who gets it done on the turf.

Post Time Outlook: 1 - Storming Inti; 2 - J to the Croft; and 3 - Tourist

Check Friday's print editions for my advance on the 40-day meet with some tips on what to see and do when you're at the Spa.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

Running notebook: View from the top

Travel note: I had a nice run on Thursday morning overlooking Keuka Lake in Penn Yan. The sky and the water were both appropriately blue. Try it sometime if you are in that part of the world; I had not been there before.

Closer to home, it's a busy weekend in running. Here's the rundown, from

* Lakeview Field Day 5K Run, Center St. in Lakeview, 8 a.m. Saturday, 698-4005.

* Tuscarora Nation 10K Run, Tuscarora Indian School (Walmore and Mt. Hope), 9 a.m. Saturday, 940-0582. We still need to spread out the 10K races around here ...

* Tom Drake Memorial 5K Thunderbird Club Run, Mayville Lakeside Park, Route 394 in Mayville, 9 a.m. Saturday, 607-0328.

* Bonafest 5K, St. Bonaventure University (west entrance), 9 a.m. Saturday, 790-0056. Lots of early races this weekend.

* Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest, 4 miles, 325 Franklin St. in Tonawanda, 510-3971. I've done this race several times, and it's always a good one.

-- Budd Bailey

Post Time: A day at the track

By Gene Kershner

Thursday afternoon was a beautiful day to spend at the track and I found myself in the comforts of Finger Lakes Race Track watching a card full of $5,000 - $15,000 claimers. I was with my childhood best friend from Syracuse who met me halfway for a round of golf and his maiden voyage to a horse racing venue.

Bringing potential new fans to the race track and teaching them the art of wagering is a great way to get people excited about horse racing and the thrills it can provide over an afternoon of sunshine, adult beverages and cashing a few tickets. By mid-afternoon my friend hadn't cashed a ticket but was getting the hang of the game.

We played a joint trifecta ticket (I was forced to put my money where my mouth was) keying a favorite over three horses, an easy bet to teach when you have a pretty solid favorite and we cashed. The important thing when bringing a potential new fan to the track is to make sure they cash at least one ticket. Well we took the $12 that we bet and the $5 that we won and we rolled it into a $17 show bet on a horse named Winco in the 5th that proceeded to close hard down the stretch for second, doubled our money and produced some high-fives. Mission accomplished.

It was only a few bucks, but I could see that he was hooked to at least give the track another try again someday, whether it is at the Finger or Saratoga. Going to the track with a bunch of friends and creating a show pool like we did is a good way to introduce potential fans to the game and ease them into the betting without going too deep into how to read the form.

I spent some time educating him on certain things on the form like speed figures, wins at the distance, running lines and the type of horse (early pace, stalker, closer) each runner was, but could see that it was starting to intimidate him and we just stuck to the basics. Learning how to call out a bet is just as intimidating to reading a racing form.

In the "new thing happened to me at the track" category, I cashed the strangest and perhaps, luckiest Pick-4 (P4) ticket of my wagering lifetime during the card's early Pick-4. It was the first time in history I cashed a P4 with only two winning horses on my ticket crossing the finish line. How does that happen?

My ticket was a $12 play for $0.50 (4x2x3x1) with a big single in the final leg to heavy favorite New York Tough. It got off to a rousing start when 9-Seek to Destroy won the first leg paying $8. The second leg is where things got interesting. I had two horses, neither whom won as 5-Afuwa finished third and 8-Contender's Queen had issues getting out of the gate and finished last. I thought the ticket was dead until I heard announcer Tony Calo say that the stewards were reviewing the gate break and decided Contender's Queen did not have a fair start and deemed him a non-starter.

Well that meant that my bet on Contender's Queen transferred to the post time favorite, 6-Kicken Livi, who just happened to win the race. Boom, I'm still alive. Things then began to really get strange.

In the third leg I had three horses, including the 9-Head Spin was around 7-1 at post time. For the third time on the day there was an issue at the gate and the track veterinarian decided to scratch the 1-horse, Axspect the Best, who was not on my ticket. However, he was a coupled entry with 1A-Alpha Galpha Amber, so the stewards determined that he would run for purse money only and would not be a wagering interest. When 1A-Alpha Galpha Amber finished ahead of Head Spin, I thought my ticket was dead for the second time and even uttered a bad word.

Fortunately, he was only running for purse money and my 9-horse was put up as the $15.40 winner. Holy Toledo, batman, the racing gods were with me. At this point there is no way my single can win. I've received all the racing luck that any one individual could have.

The P4 will-pay if 8-New York Tough wins was $67.12, a $55 profit on my $12 investment. No hedging for me, if he wins, I win. God bless that nice New York Tough, who won by a cool 8 1/2-lengths running away from the field, eliciting more high-fives and a nice cold beverage.

I've had my share of bad beats and losing photo finishes. Let's just say I won't be complaining the next time either happens to me.

Sometimes you step in the mud and pull out a $20 bill. On Thursday afternoon at the Finger, it just happened to be a bigger one.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

Jim Kelly at his football camp today: "When it's my time, it's my time ... I'm not scared to die."

Jim Kelly at his football camp Thursday. (James P. McCoy)
Jim Kelly at his football camp Thursday. (James P. McCoy)

The News' Bucky Gleason was at Jim Kelly's football camp today at Sweet Home High School as the Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback, who is battling cancer, met the media.

Below are Gleason's tweets from this morning. 

Read more from Gleason on Jim Kelly in his column for Friday's Buffalo News.

And watch News photojournalist James P. McCoy's VIDEO of Kelly addressing campers Wednesday night.

International Junior Masters champ Thomson becomes youngest qualifier for U.S. Amateur

Will Thomson of Pittsford during the final round of the International Junior Masters. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
Will Thomson of Pittsford during the final round of the International Junior Masters. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

By Keith McShea

Will Thomson of Pittsford, who became the youngest winner in the 62-year history of the International Junior Masters in East Aurora 11 days ago, had another landmark day on the golf course on Monday. 

Thomson, 13, became the youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Amateur when he won the 36-hole sectional qualifier at Mendon Golf Club.

Thomson shot rounds of 68 and 66 on the par-71 course for a total of 8-under-par 134. Thomson finished four shots ahead of Gavin Hall (69-69-138), a Pittsford-Mendon graduate who will be a sophomore for the University of Texas golf team this fall.

The United States Golf Association confirmed in an email to The Buffalo News that Thomson's age would make him the youngest qualifier; the USGA record book shows 2004 qualifier Ryota Ito as the youngest U.S. Amateur competitor at 14 years, 1 month, 13 days.

The 114th U.S. Amateur will be held Aug. 11-17 at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

The U.S. Amateur begins with stroke play followed by match play; that is the same format in which Thomson prevailed at the five-day International Junior Masters.

Thomson was also the only seventh-grader to qualify for this year's New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships. 

* * * 

Bob DiCesare's story (with photo) on Thomson winning the International Junior Masters.

A live blog account of the final day of the International Junior Masters.

Running notebook: An ideal day

It was a typical July 4 for runners in the area, as hundreds turned out this morning under almost perfect conditions. It seems as if the Depew-Lancaster Boys & Girls Club race is always 90 degrees when I run it, but there were no such complaints today.We'll have the result in Saturday's Scoreboard page of The News. The Dick Bessel Independence Day race, another Independece Day tradition, also went off as planned.

The busy July 4 apparently scared off race directors on July 5 & 6 ... with one exception. The Independence Run will be held in Akron at 10 a.m. Saturday. The starting point is listed as Vetean's Park on Skyline Drive in Akron. Call 390-7510 for information. I did this race last year, and it's a nice event. Just one reminder - watch out for the hills. Whew.

Coming up in Sunday's running column, there's a story about how some Western New Yorkers are helping a friend take cross-country running to a new level.

-- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Big field set for Sunday's Queen's Plate

By Gene Kershner

TORONTO – The post position draw for Sunday’s 155th running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate, the oldest continuously run race in North America took place in the walking ring at Woodbine Racetrack this morning. A large field of 14 colts and one filly will head to the post at 5:38 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. We Miss Artie (8-5) was made the morning line favorite with the filly and Woodbine Oaks winner Lexie Lou (4-1) made the second choice. 

Here are some quick hitters from the post draw:

  • Trainer Mark Casse sends out three horses in hopes of capturing his first Queen’s Plate after 17 attempts. Casse will send out the filly Lexie Lou, Matador (8-1) and Majestic Sunset (15-1) in attempt to break the drought.
  • Roger Attfield, who has a record-equaling eight Queen’s Plate training victories always the showman, selected post No. 12 for Tower of Texas, stating he has won two plates from that gate in his storied Hall of Fame career. John Velazquez, a Hall of Famer himself, will fly in to ride the son of Street Sense.
  • In addition to Velazquez another big name jockey will be heading north to Woodbine this weekend, as Javier Castellano, the current leading rider at Belmont Park, will be aboard We Miss Artie for trainer Todd Pletcher. Both Pletcher and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey will be making the trek up north for Canada's biggest race. Pletcher will be seeking his second Queen’s Plate, winning his last 14 years ago with Archers Bay in 1998.
  • Julien Leparoux, who will make his second Plate appearance, will fly in to ride Matador for Casse.
  • The Plate will be a family affair of sorts for the Attard family. Father Sid trains Cap in Hand (50-1) for last year's Plate winning owners Tucci Stables and his two sons will also saddle horses in the race. Cap in Hand will break from the rail, the same spot last year's winner, Midnight Aria started from in giving the owners their first Plate victory.
  • Attard's sons will saddle Niigon Express (Paul) and Lions Bay (Jamie) and have bet each other a round of golf on the outcome. Paul Attard selected post No. 13 for his horse, the same spot that his sire, Niigon, won the Plate from in 2004.
  • Trainer Reade Baker who recently won his 1,000the career race is also seeking his first Plate with two contenders.  Asserting Bear (10-1) will have jockey Chantal Sutherland-Kruse in the irons and Baker describes his colt's best quality in one word, "guts." Baker will also send Man o' Bear (30-1) postward for Bear Stables and will have the other female jockey in the race, Emma-Jayne Wilson, who won the 2007 Plate aboard Mike Fox.

The post position draw with trainer, jockey and morning line odds is included below: 

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Cap in Hand S. Attard Bahen 50-1
2 Coltimus Prime Nixon Campbell 20-1
3 Athenian Guard DePaulo Moreno 50-1
4 Asserting Bear Baker Sutherland-Kruse 10-1
5 Man o' Bear Baker Wilson 30-1
6 We Miss Artie Pletcher Castellano 8-5
7 Majestic Sunset Casse Boulanger 15-1
8 Lions Bay J. Attard Moran 30-1
9 Heart to Heart Lynch da Silva 30-1
10 Matador Casse Leparoux 8-1
11 One Destiny Fehr Stein 30-1
12 Tower of Texas Attfield Velazquez 20-1
13 Niigon Express P. Attard Olguin 30-1
14 Lexie Lou (f) Casse Husbands 4-1
15 Ami's Holiday Carroll Contreras 10-1
  (f) filly      

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

Video: WNY Flash players discuss World Cup

« Older Entries

About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.