09/15/2009 11:00PM

Saito has new perspective at Thistle

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Scott Saito, who began his career on the racetrack as a groom and became a three-time Thistledown riding champion, is now a Thistledown associate steward. He officially joined state steward Butch Gore and associate steward Dick Kinsey in the stewards' stand late last month. He replaces veteran official Bob Clark who died Aug. 7.

"The perspective is definitely different from up here then down on the track," said Saito. "But I believe I'm ready for the challenge."

Saito, 45, was the groom and exercise rider for King Glorious, who won the 1989 Ohio Derby. Saito soon gave up grooming and began riding full time. He scored his first winner at Fresno in California, and eventually headed back to Cleveland. Saito won the 1992 Thistledown, 1994 Cranwood, and 2002 Summit meet titles at Thistledown.

Saito, who started the charity Riding for Wishes which raises donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, left Thistledown in 2002 and finished his riding career at Emerald Downs near Seattle.

"It's good to be back again," said Saito. "I'm enjoying being a steward as much as I did riding."