Step Up To The Plate Claiming Series kicks off at Saratoga

Saratoga, NY – The Step Up To The Plate Claiming Series for trotters got underway on Monday afternoon (March 13) at Saratoga Casino Hotel.

The first of three legs of the series that lead up to the final next month featured two divisions that each went for a purse of $20,000.

Esa (#2, inside) defeated JNR Express by a head to win in the first leg of the Step Up To The Plate Claiming Series at Saratoga Monday. Jessica Hallett Photo.

Jordan Derue trains and drives Esa (E L Titan) who was the odds-on favorite in the first division on Monday. Derue marched the 7-year-old out to the early lead as rival JNR Express (John Stark Jr) gave way to sit the pocket. That pair drew away from their rivals in the stretch before Esa held on to win it by a head in 1:57.1 to record his third victory of the season.

Both Esa and JNR Express, who came up second best, were claimed out of leg one. Mr Cool Seaeyre N (Brett Beckwith) finished third.

The other division saw a different Derue score a win as trainer Brett Derue’s The Royal Poze (RC Royalty) set a lifetime mark on Monday.

Drawing the rail in his five-horse $20,000 division, The Royal Poze gave way briefly to Life Well Lived (Shawn Gray) in the early going before retaking the lead approaching the opening quarter that went in :28.3. The race’s 4-5 favorite in the wagering never looked back before stopping the timer in a career-best 1:56.2. Invader Fair Glider (Jay Randall) finished second while Life Well Lived held on to be third and was claimed from leg one of the series.

Live racing is canceled for Tuesday afternoon (March 14) at Saratoga with a winter storm set to hit the area.

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