Rising star Saratoga Snacks, a 3-year-old ridgling by Tale of the Cat owned by former Jets and Giants head coach Bill Parcells (as August Dawn Farm), closed out 2012 with his first career stakes victory, taking the $75,000 Alex M. Robb on Wednesday at Aqueduct under a confident ride by Ramon Dominguez.
Favored by the slightest of margins (.85-1) over chief rival Saginaw (.95-1), Saratoga Snacks came into the 1 1/16-mile Alex M. Robb having won three of four starts this year – suffering his only defeat last out when he finished second in the Empire Classic on Showcase Day after a stretch-long duel with Lunar Victory. Slated to run back in the Discovery Handicap, he missed the race because of a foot bruise.
Saratoga Snacks found the front shortly after the break and led the five-horse Robb field through the first turn and along the backstretch, a length ahead of a stalking Saginaw (24.53, 49.25).
Challenged briefly by Saginaw rounding the far turn, Saratoga Snacks drew off again in upper stretch. Socialsaul (27-1) moved up a spot from third and finished well for second, but there was no doubt about the winner, who crossed the wire with a length to spare.
Saginaw, shooting for the North American win title for 2012 with victory number 11, finished another 11 3/4 lengths back in third. Idle American and Swag Daddy completed the order of finish. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles over the fast Aqueduct Inner track was 1:45.21.
Winning rider Ramon Dominguez, who was returning to the races after a month off to recover from a bruised foot, said, “[Saratoga Snacks] was pressed a little bit, but he doesn’t mind. He’s a horse who never seems to get tired. He handles himself so well. When the other horse [Socialsaul] was coming to him [in the stretch] I had a pretty good view on the big screen television [in the infield] and I knew I didn’t need to ask him.”
Trainer Gary Sciacca added, “Coming into the race he was doing everything right and everything good. Since we were inside Saginaw, Ramon said he wanted to protect the rail. He broke well. Saginaw came after him a couple of times on the backside, but he couldn’t get past. He may get a vacation now; we’ll see. He’s done everything right for us.”
Gary Sciacca purchased Saratoga Snacks at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred yearling sale for $60,000. Never out the exacta in seven career starts, the ridgling has won five races, including an open company allowance at Belmont on September 15. His earnings now total $244,600.
Bred by Mrs. Gerald A. Nielsen, Saratoga Snacks is one of three winners from three foals to start out of Near and Dear, a multiple winner by Red Ransom ($80,400) bred by Mrs. Nielsen and her husband Gerald. Speed Dating (Not For Love) was a six figure earner ($108,987); Rajman (Thunder Gulch) placed twice at the Group 3 level in Peru.
Near and Dear currently has a 2-year-old filly by Stormy Atlantic named Hurricane Jackie who has not started; a yearling filly by the same sire and a weanling full brother to Saratoga Snacks. She was bred last spring to Henrythenavigator.