It’s not for nothing that the 40-day Saratoga meet, which begins tomorrow, is universally regarded as one of the world’s great racing occasions. Not only is it renowned as a unique summer festival that’s a magnet for holidaying families and serious horse players alike, it also features one of the most impressive collections of top-class horse races you’ll find anywhere.
With 35 Graded races taking place across 6½ weeks, starting with the G1 Diana on Saturday, you’re never far away from seeing a quality runner or an outstanding jockey in action.
So which riders are the most effective there? Which trainers have been the most successful in recent seasons? Which sires have the best records?
Here are the findings of the TRC Global Rankings algorithm, which measures effectiveness not by totting up prize money but by taking into account the merit of every performance in every Graded race. The top ten tables below are based on every Graded race at Saratoga over the past six seasons.
Seven of the top ten riders with USA as their ‘Modal Country’ (the jurisdiction where they have the most rides) in the TRC rankings are in our Saratoga top ten. And Joe Bravo, who is sixth here, is ranked #11 in the overall USA list.
Javier Castellano, who sits behind Mike Smith in the overall rankings, takes the top spot here. Smith, of course, rides only occasionally at Saratoga.
The prolific Chad Brown leads a group that features five of the top ten USA handlers on the overall TRC list. Bob Baffert, the U.S. #1 but eighth here, has fewer representatives at Saratoga than many of the other leading trainers.
Darley’s Bernardini has had a quiet time over the past couple of seasons - which is why he is now just world 159 in the TRC standings - but his position at the top of this table is down to an excellent record in 2015 and before.
There’s no Saratoga top ten place for the leading U.S.-based sire of the moment, Scat Daddy. His #3 world ranking owes much to success with European turf runners, as well as Triple Crown hero Justify of course, but his progeny have yet to make such a huge impact at The Spa (his daughter Dacita did win the Diana in 2016, though).