Saratoga Springs, NY — The Final of the fourth annual Holiday Pace Series took place on Saturday night (Dec. 14) at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The series had two legs which each went for a purse of $7,500 leading up to Saturday’s $20,000 Final.
The fastest winner of any division leading up to the Final was Santanna One (Chris Long) who scored decisively in leg two in 1:55.1. Drawing post two on Saturday, the Jessica Derue trainee was the public’s 1-9 betting favorite. Reckless Rebel (Jim Devaux) drew the rail and went off at odds of 9-1 after a second and a fourth-place finish in the series’ legs. Reckless Rebel yielded to Santanna One in the early going and wound up getting a two-hole trip behind the big favorite.
With about 3/8 of a mile to pace, reinsman Devaux popped the pocket with Reckless Rebel who powered right past the favorite to open up a big lead past three quarters in 1:26.3 over a track labeled ‘sloppy.’ Though he tired a bit in the stretch, the George Merton-trained pacer held on to record the win in the Final holding off late bids from Blueberry Heaven (Billy Dobson) and Santanna One, who found a bit of a second wind. Reckless Rebel stopped the timer in 1:56 and paid $21.20 to win in the upset.
Blueberry Heaven came on for second to complete a $143.50 exacta while Santanna One had to settle for third and rounded out a triple that came back $199. Reckless Rebel, who is owned as well as trained by Merton, adds his name to the list of previous winners of the Holiday Pace which consists of Moveoutofmyway, Three Handbags and Nitro Glistening.
The $10,000 Holiday Pace Consolation went the way of Redhot Romeo who toughed out a first-over journey to win in 1:59.1 with Dylan Huckabone-Miller at the controls.
Sunday is closing day for the 2019 racing season and will feature a twelve-race matinee that is set to kick off at 12 Noon. There will be a retirement ceremony for three fourteen-year-olds that takes place before the races begin on Sunday.