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Saratoga to open for its 148th season of thoroughbred racing

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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.

Saratoga, without Justify, ready to go for 150th meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Triple Crown winner Justify won’t be running during the 150th meet at Saratoga Race Course, but many of the best thoroughbreds will be at the historic track for the 40-day season.

The meet features 69 stakes races worth $18.8 million in purses and opens Friday. Among those running this season will be Good Magic, Hofburg, Gronkowski, Vino Rosso, and Bravazo.

Todd Pletcher is eyeing his 13th training title in 16 years. He won last year with 40 winners, one more than Chad Brown.

Justify has returned to Del Mar in California after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago. Trainer Bob Baffert says Justify probably will walk around the stable area the next two weeks.

The colt likely will return in the fall, the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

Triple Crown winner Justify under observation at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Triple Crown winner Justify has re-located to Del Mar where trainer Bob Baffert is keeping him under observation after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago.

Baffert says Justify will probably just walk around the stable area for the next two weeks at the track north of San Diego. The probable scenario for the colt is a return to racing sometime in the fall with the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

“Right now, we’re just looking to get him 100 percent,” Baffert said Monday. “We’re in a holding pattern. I’d love to run him again because he’s so much fun and exciting to watch. We should know more in a couple of weeks.”

Justify has won all six starts in his brief career that began this year. He has won four straight Grade 1 races, including a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown champion.

The colt hasn’t had a workout since the Belmont Stakes on June 9.