November 30, 2023

Closing Act heads Schuylerville on Saratoga opener

Closing Act wins the 2023 Astoria Stakes (Coglianese Photography)

Saratoga, the most popular race meeting of the year in the U.S., kicks off its 2023 meet Thursday with a 10-race card, highlighted by the $175,000 Schuylerville (G3) for two-year-old fillies over six furlongs.

Closing Act enters the Schuylerville with a 2-for-2 record, including a 3 1/4-length score over Union Suit in last month’s Astoria S. at Belmont Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. The Hall of Fame conditioner has won the Schuylerville three times, most recently in 2013 when Brazen Persuasion dead-heated for first.

The winningest trainers in Schuylerville history with six wins apiece, D. Wayne Lukas and protΓ©gΓ© Todd Pletcher, will each take stabs at owning the record outright. Lukas, who won his first Schuylerville in 1986 and latest in 2004, relies on the aptly-named Saratoga Secret, a daughter of Arrogate won on on debut by three lengths at Ellis Park.

Pletcher will be represented by Wine On Tap, who also won by three lengths at first asking, in her case at Belmont. Pletcher landed his first Schuylerville in 2002 and latest in 2016.

Butch Reid, who trained 2020 division champion Vequist, sends his Parx maiden winners Carmelina and Kiss for Luck. The latter is a half-sister to Vequist, who won the Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga during her championship campaign.

Other debut winners lining up in the Schuylerville include Status Seeker, Dancing Diana, Sugar Treat, and Mila Junes. The field also includes one first-time starter, Becky’s Joker, from the barn of Gary Contessa.