Tuesday (May 23) marked the conclusion of the eighth annual Virginia O’Brien Memorial Pacing Series at Saratoga Casino Hotel, won by Vibrance.
As often is the case in series finals, the tempo was hot at the start of the $38,800 feature for fillies and mares with several distaffers battling for the early lead. The fast first-half fractions of :27.2 and :55.4 took their toll on the race’s favourite, Dance Ticket, who fought gamely while tested every step of the mile. All the while, the backfield got into motion and longshot Vibrance overcame a difficult journey to charge past her rivals late to secure the upset score.
After finishing second in leg two, Vibrance made good as the public’s top choice in the wagering in the third leg of the O’Brien Memorial heading into Tuesday’s final. Steve Rybka, who trains and drives Vibrance for co-owners Michelle Treffi, Stephen Bartlett and David Garlick, tipped her to the far outside past three-quarters before watching the sophomore Betting Line filly fly home late en route to clocking a career-best win time of 1:54.2 while dismissed at odds of 10-1. Dance Ticket was a gutsy second in the final while Got Beach Body, the longshot shot on the board at 41-1, earned the show spot.
Rybka became the eighth different driver and eighth different trainer to score victories in the eight-year history of the Virginia O’Brien Memorial.
Vibrance paid $22 to win in the upset and led an exacta and triple that returned $86 and $666, respectively.
Live harness racing resumes on Saturday evening (May 27) at Saratoga with a first post time of 5 p.m. (EDT).
(Saratoga Casino Hotel)