Sunday afternoon (Feb. 18) marked the start of the 77th racing season at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The matinee card was highlighted by a co-feature with the $12,000 Open Trot and the equally pursed Open Pace feature.
The Amanda Facin-trained Ulster (Glidemaster) kicked off his 2018 campaign just like he ended his 2017 season, with a win in the Open Trot. In fact, Ulster ended last year on a three-race win streak, including successive victories in the trotting feature.
On Sunday, driver Jay Randall sat patiently with Ulster before making his move around the final turn with the 7-year-old highstepper. Ulster came on to win in 1:57.1 at odds of 7-2 as his streak moved to four.
The co-featured Open Pace went to Do Over Hanover (Western Ideal), who powered past his rivals in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:54 with Billy Dobson in the sulky. The Rene Allard-trained Do Over Hanover was a winning machine in 2017 when he prevailed 15 times in 29 starts and already has a pair of victories in 2018 after scoring in January at Yonkers.
The afternoon card was one of four matinee programs to be contested in February at the Spa with a Monday President’s Day card of 11 races on tap.
Live racing continues on Monday with a 12:15 p.m. start to the matinee program. (Saratoga)