Peter Fornatale at Saratoga

American racing expert Peter Thomas Fornatale casts his eye back to last weekend’s main Stateside action from Saratoga, where numerous Graded Stakes races were run, nominating his latest horses to follow.

  • Thursday 29 August
  • Blog
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I’ve written before about how much I enjoy entertaining friends and family during my annual uprooting to Saratoga. There are plenty of nice restaurants up here but often the best bet – and the most fun – is to cook for ourselves, avoiding the pitfalls of seasonal employees in both the front and back of the houses.

The past few seasons the workload has been such where I haven’t been able to cook nearly as much as I’d have liked. Enter Chef Dan Spitz. I’m not saying I’d ever be as good as him, but his approach to food is identical to mine, based on elegant, straightforward presentations of the best farm fresh food, with a Mediterranean lean.

We had a great end of summer celebration Tuesday night at the Little House on the East Side, Chef Dan getting the wood oven going and presenting a six-course meal that was highlighted by wood-roasted black cod, and a pork tenderloin with a sour-cherry barbecue sauce glaze. There were also baby eggplants with sheep milk yogurt and spiced pepitas – Ottolenghi himself would have approved.

We drank mostly beer, lovely sours from Hill Farmstead and Ommegang, and hoppy stuff from Lawson’s and Equilibrium. The guest list included some racing folks, including my first bosses in the game, Joe and Sean Clancy of the Saratoga Special, as well as John Panagot.

John once worked with me at the Special and now has the dual responsibilities of being Javier Castellano’s agent and Robert Lapenta’s racing manager (Catholic Boy). John Hamar of the Paddock Bar was also in attendance.

They all gave me a hard time for giving preference to Tacitus over Code Of Honor in the Travers, especially when I told them I rate the two equally still going forward. It was a great night out, and while things are winding down now, we still have a few precious days to come.



SINGLE VERSE won the pace battle (and the pace was swift) but lost the war. Should move up off the race and might appreciate the slightly slower pace associated with the longer sprints downstate.


PERFORMER looked a future Graded Stakes winner in victory. He was wide throughout and will benefit from that run against some tough allowance horses.

It was supposed to be easier than that for COME DANCING, who won despite a poor break and having to circle the field. She’ll be dangerous next time at a short price again, especially if allowed to use her speed next time.

HOG CREEK HUSTLE ran very well in a slow-paced Allen Jerkens. I expect even better in a spot where the field really throws down in front of him. Three-year-old’s have a great record overall in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and while this one will have some killers to contend with, he will also likely be a big price.

TACITUS remains on the list and I don’t even think I’m being that stubborn. Not sure if it was a rider decision to send him forward, if the blinkers lit him up, or if it’s just the way things played out on the track, but once again this was a sub-optimal trip and he was very game to get second.

It’s possible Code Of Honor has just improved past him and I can’t say I necessarily prefer him to that rival, but I will rate them equally next time, and Tacitus should be a better price.


CAROM is the horse I want out of the third race. He attacked a hot pace before just losing to a perfect trip winner. Has the speed to control a long turf race downstate, especially in the allowance ranks.

ENTHUSIASTIC GAL ran a little better than it looked in a race with a slow pace where the 1-2 finishers just ran around the track in order. She was the only one making up ground and could do better in a spot with more pace/ground.

For more from me, check out and be sure to watch all the action from Saratoga live on Sky Sports Racing Stateside.

Peter Fornatale at Saratoga
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