Monday’s feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel was the $36,600 Jim Derue Memorial Trot Series Final, and the eighth annual series reached its conclusion with a race that on paper seemed like it could go one of several different ways.
After all, the series’ two legs, which consisted of a total of seven divisions, saw six different horses prevail. The only two-time winner, John Stark, Jr.’s Cindy Michelle, made a break in Tuesday’s Final which meant that Pass Key (Cantab Hall), the race’s favourite, wound up inheriting the lead from his inside post position. Jordan Derue was attempting to win the series named in honour of his father and looked to be in a good spot to do so with Pass Key who is owned, trained and driven by Jordan.
The race’s 7-5 betting favourite travelled through a first half in :57 after parking out a longshot rival in lap one. Leg two winner Creemore (Chapter Seven) swung to the outside and followed the parked out rival before tipping three wide approaching the three quarter pole. Pass Key and Creemore engaged in a heavy duty battle around the final turn and went toe-to-toe in the stretch before Creemore surged in the final strides to prevail by a head in 1:57.4. Pass Key was the runner-up while Spotlessreputation (Dan Cappello, Jr.) earned the show spot. Creemore paid $11.20 to win in the mild upset.
The three-year-old gelding, who is owned and trained by Stalbaum, became the eighth winner of the Jim Derue Memorial Trot adding his name to the list of previous winners which consists of Jelectric, The Lindy Treaty, Showmeyourguns, Aberforth, Dressed To Impress, Missus Mia Wallace and Certify.
Stalbaum piloted the winner of Sunday’s Gary Kamal Memorial Pace Final as well as he sat behind the John Hallett-trained Some Deal Hanover. On Monday, Stalbaum piloted a hat trick as he not only won the Series Final but also guided the winner of the Derue Memorial Consolation, King Jimmy, to victory for trainer Robert Dill before scoring with Oh So Pine in the $13,000 Winners Over for trotters.
Live racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga with a matinee that will feature the $35,200 Bunny Lake Pace Series Final. First post time is set for 12 p.m.
(Saratoga Casino Hotel)