07/19/2013 6:15PM

Saratoga: Attendance, handle down on opening day


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Due in large part to the heat, business for Friday’s opening-day card at Saratoga was down from 2012.

With temperatures in the mid-90s and a heat index near 100, the on-track attendance was 21,935, down 15 percent from last year’s figure of 25,676.

On-track handle was $3,338,203, down 18 percent from last year’s total of $4,075,817. All-sources handle was $15,591,240, down 7 percent from last year’s total of $16,690,234.

Despite the heat, there were few problems on opening day, with no reported incidents of horses being adversely affected by the heat.

Speaking of heat, there was a dead-heat for the win in the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes between Brazen Persuasion and Bahnah. Brazen Persuasion was ridden by Rosie Napravnik, who won two races on the card, taking the nightcap as well with Sonnyandpally.

John Velazquez, who entered the meet eight wins shy of Jerry Bailey’s record for the most victories in Saratoga history, won three races on the card, including the $100,000 On the Bus Stakes with Hessonite.

Sage Valley won the Grade 3, $100,000 James Marvin Stakes for sprinters for owner Michael Dubb and trainer Rudy Rodriguez.

“We had a terrific day of racing today that featured a little bit of everything,” said Chris Kay, president and chief executive of the New York Racing Association. “Thrilling finishes, the unveiling of a potential star, and a stakes race that was as close as it can get.”

The potential star to whom Kay was referring is Stopchargingmaria, a 2-year-old filly by Tale of the Cat who won her debut by 5 1/2 lengths for owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher.