SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The 148th season of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs gets underway this week, kicking off nearly seven weeks of a summertime tradition dating to the Civil War.
Opening day for Saratoga Race Course is Friday, with gates opening at 11 a.m. and the first race post time scheduled for 1 p.m. Racing will be held on 40 days through Labor Day, Sept. 5, with the track closed on Tuesdays.
The New York Racing Association runs Saratoga along with the Belmont and Aqueduct tracks. It says fans will see a number of upgrades at the track, which first opened in 1864.
The improvements include the planting of more than 850 trees on the track grounds and adding 100 picnic tables, bringing the number available on a first-come, first-served basis to 950.
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — Irap won the $500,000 Indiana Derby by five lengths over Colonelsdarkemper, owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt.
Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Irap ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.21 on Saturday night at Indiana Grand. He paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.60 in the Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds. Irap is trained by Southern California-based Doug O’Neill.
Colonelsdarktemper returned $9.60 and $5.80, while Untrapped was another length back in third and paid $2.80 to show.
Foyt is in Toronto for this weekend’s IndyCar race, so he sent grandson A.J. Foyt IV to the track outside Indianapolis.
“He’s always shown a lot of heart and he showed it tonight,” the younger Foyt said about the colt. “He ran a great race.”
The younger Foyt works in the Indianapolis Colts’ front office. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, where his father Tony trained horses.
“Horse racing holds a special place in my heart, and I’m glad my grandfather still has it going on,” A.J. IV said.
STANTON, Del. — Songbird turned back a determined challenge from Martini Glass through the stretch to win the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap by a length Saturday.
The 1-9 favorite covered 10 furlongs in 2:03.96 to earn her 13th win in 14 career races and raise her career earnings past $4.5 million.
With regular rider Mike Smith aboard, Songbird went right to the front at start of 1 1/4-mile fixture and set moderate fractions but never was able to shake Martini Glass and jockey Jose Ferrer.
After Martini Glass ranged to the outside, Smith was forced to go a stiff left-hand stick through the final furlong.
Line of Best Fit finished third, two lengths behind Martini Glass.
Songbird owner Rick Porter, who’s battling cancer, was among those in attendance at Delaware Park.
Songbird paid $2.10 across the board.