JC / Railbird

Another Saratoga First

Congratulations to Linda Rice on securing the 2009 Saratoga training title with 20 winners, one more than runner-up and six-time title holder Todd Pletcher, with one race remaining in the meet. The honor is a first for the conditioner, who started her stable in 1987 and currently has 50 horses, and for racing history — Rice is the first woman to win a training title at Saratoga or, it’s believed, at any major thoroughbred track.

Final numbers below:

A couple things to note about the stats, not least how well Rice did with a smaller barn largely filled with NY-bred turf horses. She sent out slightly more than half as many starters as Pletcher and yet still scored a win percentage almost twice as high, and did so with all of her wins coming in races carded for the grass. And while Pletcher placed and showed 28 and 20 times, Rice did so four and eight times — her stock was well spotted and ready, for the most part. As for money, Pletcher earned considerably more, racking up purses totaling $1,403,043 (through September 6) compared to $784,779 for Rice, but on average, each Rice starter earned $11,053 compared to $10,961 for each Pletcher starter. Rice was also good to bettors, with an ROI of $2.84 and a median price of $7.20; Pletcher delivered a mere $1.39 and $6.70.

“Maybe if some people notice that I can make my horses effective with what I have, maybe I’ll get the opportunity to train better horses,” said Rice last week. Here’s hoping that after what she’s achieved this summer, and more than proving her abilities, the trainer gets the opportunity she seeks.


I’m glad Linda won and I’m impressed with the job she did all summer. I do believe her accomplishment is diminished slightly by the high percentage (my perception, I don’t have the numbers) of wins that came in restricted company. Trainers like Mott and Pletcher don’t have many horses to run against that undeniably softer competition.

Posted by ljk on September 8, 2009 @ 10:47 am

It will be interesting to see if she does get “better horses”.

Posted by dana on September 8, 2009 @ 11:08 am

I spent the weekend handicapping Saratoga and it was next to impossible to toss out a horse trained by Rice.

I’m glad she was able to win the training title and hope to see her get the opportunity she deserves.

Posted by Keith - Triple Dead Heat on September 8, 2009 @ 11:23 am

While some may say that all her wins came in restricted company or in turf sprints (In historical perspective both are relatively new novelties for the Saratoga condition book in the number races run nowadays), it’s still a huge achievement considering the number of runners a guy like Pletcher can throw out on the track.

Now, however, the word is out on Rice runners (if it wasn’t already, it’s going to be more overstated) and with the way both Rice and Pletcher emptied their barns during the last week of the meet to try to win the title, I think it would be wise to *now* start trying to beat them in the wagering pools, even though it became fashionable to try to beat her runners *during* the meet.

When Mott went bonkers at Saratoga in 2007 he came to Belmont in the fall and went ice cold and stayed that way. I would think we could be looking at the same scenario again.

Posted by o_crunk on September 8, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

Linda Rice has always been a capable horseperson and one that I never had problem backing with my opinions or dollars, but the fact that she won the meet given the stock she has shows how the quality of Saratoga is mostly a myth.

The 2YO racing and stakes were top notch. All the other filler ($35kN2L daily, tons of NYBs) was really subpar.

Posted by EJXD2 on September 9, 2009 @ 10:21 pm