Gruden (Muscles Yankee) was one of the most consistent trotters at Saratoga Casino Hotel last season. The Monica Krist trainee recorded an Open Trot victory last fall while enjoying a five-win campaign in 2020. Gruden had six second-place finishes to go with the five victories in just 19 starts last year. Now in his eight year old season, Gruden enjoyed a solid stretch at the Meadowlands this winter before finishing second from post eight during opening week at the Spa. On Monday, Gruden was the betting favorite in the $10,000 trotting feature and reinsman Billy Dobson powered the talented high-stepper out to the early lead. Gruden had his way in lap one on Monday before being confronted by a first-over Manny L (Jimmy Devaux) approaching three-quarters. The 4-5 public choice rebuffed that challenge before drawing clear in the stretch to win in 1:58.1. Pocket-sitting INXS (Shawn Gray) finished second at odds of 18-1 while Manny L earned the show spot. Though Gruden paid just $3.80 to win, the exacta and triple in the race came back $29.80 and $99.50, respectively. Gruden is owned by Rick Dobson of Howell, MI.
Racing continues on Tuesday afternoon at Saratoga featuring the first installment of the Open Pace on the season. First post time on Tuesday is set for Noon.
Photo: Melissa Simser-Iovino