PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Crowds line up at track level to watch races at Suffolk Downs Saturday.
EAST BOSTON — The first of three weekend racing events at Suffolk Downs drew crowds totalling 14,079 over two days.
There were 11-race cards on both days, with Saturday’s events including two steeplechase and four stakes races.
“It was great to welcome back so many familiar faces and fans out today to enjoy the races,” said Chip Tuttle, the Chief Operating Officer at Suffolk Downs.
The live racing and food truck festivals will continue on Aug. 5-6 and Sept. 3-4 and will feature thoroughbred racing, food trucks and family fun entertainment.
Saturday’s card drew the bigger crowd, 8,251, while Sunday’s attendance was 5,828.
The eighth race Sunday was the $75,000 Isadorable Stakes. Navy Nurse, winner of the race in 2013, turned in a game effort to win by one length. The eight-year-old mare is a homebred for Mrs. Patricia Moseley and is trained by Jay Bernardini. David Amiss, the leading rider at Suffolk Downs in 2014, was aboard.
“It feels great to be home,” said Amiss. “I really appreciate the support from this horse’s connections. She is such a game mare. She broke well and at the top of the stretch, I just let her go.”
Saturday, Forest Funds won the $75,000 Jill Jellison Memorial Dash. Trained by Jorge Navarro who also saddled Stableford (GB) to win the seventh race, Forest Funds settled off of the pace then swung wide under jockey Pedro Cotto, Jr. as they turned for home. She drove clear to win by 1 ¾ lengths and earned the eighth victory of her career. It was the second win of the day for Cotto who also piloted Deterrent to win the eighth race for trainer Bobby Dibona.
Also on the card, Dr. Blarney romped in the $75,000 African Prince Stakes. Bred and owned by Joseph DiRico, the Massachusetts-bred son of Dublin went gate to wire under Tammi Piermarini to win by 15 ¾ lengths as the odds-on favorite.
“I’m very happy to be home,” said Piermarini, the third all-time leading female rider. “It feels so good to be back and see how excited the fans are. After all, no matter where you go, your roots are your roots.”