Thank you to Jessica Hallett of Saratoga Casino for the great write-up on the charity match race hosted this past Saturday, August 19, 2023 at the Saratoga Casino Raceway. For complete story, visit: https://ustrottingnews.com/saratoga-charity-match-race-a-success/
On Saturday (Aug. 19) evening, thoroughbred jockey Flavien Prat and harness racing driver Brett Beckwith took to the track to compete in a charity match race at Saratoga Casino Hotel, an event that combined two worlds and two sides of Nelson Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
Driver Brett Beckwith defeated jockey Flavien Pratt on Saturday night. Jessica Hallett Photo.
Deemed the Brett Beckwith Versus Flavien Prat Charity Match Race, the event was spearheaded by Mary and Kevin McDermott and supplemented by Saratoga Casino Hotel and the Saratoga Harness Horseperson’s Association. In addition to the race, fans were treated to an autograph signing by the two competitors, custom match race hat giveaway, ice cream truck, trackside barbecue, and woodfire pizza station.
Flavien Prat is originally from France, where his family participates in harness racing. Prat began his career in thoroughbred racing in France before moving to the United States full time in 2015. With over 7,000 career starts as a jockey, Prat has had 1,562 wins and earnings of $144,716,482. In addition to an extensive resume of stakes wins, Prat has collected victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders’ Cup. His most notable mount was winning the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic with Flightline, a career winner of $4,514,800 from six wins in six starts.
Prat’s chosen charity was the Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA) Faith’s House. The nonprofit organization is a care center for equine workers’ children, providing early education for children of parents that work at New York racetracks including Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course.
Going to the gate as post two, Prat took the lines of Scott Mongeon trainee Foxe Ella. Owned by Scott Mongeon Racing, Foxe Ella is a three-year-old daughter of Crazy Wow
and the Angus Hall mare Canadian Princess. In 18 career starts, the filly has had two wins, four seconds, and a third, only missing the board on two occasions. With $24,396 earned, the young trotter has a career mark of 2:02.1.
Brett Beckwith is a 20-year-old up and coming driver at Saratoga Harness and the son of prominent Saratoga Harness horsemen Mark and Melissa Beckwith. He currently sits second in the driver rankings this season at the Saratoga Springs oval, trailing behind two-time defending champ Jim Devaux. He sits third in the rankings at Plainridge Park. The young reinsman has had 588 wins and purse earnings of $5,790,732. As of August 2023, Beckwith has posted his career best season with 239 trips to the winner’s circle and $2,466,373 earned.
Beckwith selected The Franklin Community Center (FCC) as his designated charity. The FCC is a staple of the Saratoga Springs community and assists the residents with a food pantry, clothing and household goods distribution center, after-school programs, and more.
With the rail spot, Beckwith went to the gate with Brian Cross student Cross Creek Samara. A three-year-old daughter of Crazy Wow
and the Cash Hall mare Whimzical Britt, Cross Creek Samara has hit the board 20 times in 22 attempts including two wins, three seconds and six thirds. With purse earnings of $33,430, the filly has a career mark of 2:01.2. She is owned by Jennifer Newton of East Nassau, NY.
With fans elbow-to-elbow throughout the trackside apron and packed into the grandstand upstairs, Prat and Beckwith entered into post parade between the sixth and seventh race on the evening card. From donations, each horse sported their own custom match race saddle pad and like Beckwith’s regular bike, Prat’s bike had his name on it.
After scoring down, Prat and Beckwith made the turn to the gate with echoes of cheers throughout the stands. As the gate pulled away, Prat urged Foxe Ella forward and led to the quarter in :30.2. Around the paddock turn, Beckwith made his move to challenge Prat and met him eye-to-eye at the half in 1:01.2. Prat and Foxe Ella gave chase, but were unable to catch Beckwith and Cross Creek Samara as they posted a third panel in 1:30.2 and then crossed the wire on top in 2:01.2.
Kevin McDermott hosted a post-race interview with the participants and there were calls for a rematch. Flavien agreed to a harness racing match race and Beckwith added that he would meet Prat on his own turf to race.
Although Beckwith pulled in front and won the match race, the true winners were the charities. Through donations and raffles, approximately $12,000 was raised. There will be an auction hosted in the upcoming week, raffling off each of the match race saddle pads, and the proceeds will be donated to charity as well.
With the help of the horsemen, the two racetracks and casino, donors, the horseman’s association, the media, and the two drivers, the event was a raving success at Saratoga Casino Hotel.