09/05/2008 3:31PM

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4:30 pm: So sue me. I took three days off from y'all after 41 consecutive days of posting, but now it's back to work and horseplay at Belmont, where the 38-day Fall Championship meeting began today. After 1-2 shot Lost Going Home won the opener for Mike Hushion -- back-to-back NYRA winners since he also won Monday's Getaway Race upstate -- we had four straight upsets combine for a $26,400 early pick-4, the last two legs of which were the first two legs of the pick-6, which already has a good chance of carrying over into Saturday's storm-threatened Garden City/Ruffian card.

The main track and turf courses are fast, firm and quick, with sub-1:10 clockings on dirt and grass in three of the early races. In the 2nd, a good-looking 2-year-old Baffert firster, Ventana, won his debut by five lengths in 1:09.90. A $410k 2yo-in-training purchase by Mike Pegram, the Toccet colt was jammed up inside early, moved out and up to within a length of a 44.68 half-mile, then drew off through the stretch.

One race later, Frankel returnee Les Grand Trois, beaten favorite in the '07 Malibu and unraced since March, was a disapponting third at 6-5 in a N3x allowance won by frontrunning Knight's Cross ($9.40) in 1:09.12. Then Billy Badgett firster Elusive Bluff lit up the board in the 4th at $67.50 in a one-mile juvenile grass race.

I haven't really gone a whole 96 hours without making a multirace wager. I decided to play Wednesday's closing-day late pick-4 at Del Mar, and I didn't get much action for my intricate 12-ticket play: in the first leg, Delta Storm at 42-1 ran down Black Seventeen to win the Pirate's Bounty, and all 12 tickets went to an early grave. Even in retrospect, I can not make a plausible case for the winner.

Today's LP4 at Belmont is going only slightly better. Hepcat ($7.50) was an A in the first leg, coming out off a brutal early duel against stronger at Saratoga last time out, but I had to go to the C list to survive on-a-roll James Bond and Turnupthevolume ($27.20) in leg 2, so it's down to a 4,8/1,7,10 to crawl home for a buck.

The closing-day tracks at Saratoga Monday and Del Mar Wednesday were almost identically quick, with Vineyard Haven's 1:23.40 in the Hopeful getting a Beyer of 84 and Midshipman's 1:23.35 in the Del Mar Futurity receiving an 85. Both figures are subpar for the year's first two Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds, though the winners were making only their third and second career starts respectively.


5:00 pm: Here's the Grade 1 lineup for the Belmont meet. With the BC in California this year and on a mystery surface, it's unlikely that this year's Belmont results will correspond as closely to the BC outcomes:

So much for that pick-4 play, as 2-1 Diamondrella came flying late to catch my two in teh featured Positive Gal Stakes. But there's definitely a $38,907 carryover for tomorrow: In the nightcap, the 2,4,7 and 10 are covered for 5/6, and 4/6 is good with anyone else.

Diamondrella worked five times at Saratoga but did not race there and today she showed why: All the turf sprints at Saratoga are 5 1/2 furlongs and she really needs six or more to be at her most effective. She trailed early but moved last and best to get up through a very quick final quarter. Diamondrella, a 4-year-old Rock of Gibraltar filly, who races for Castletop Stable and is trained by Angel Penna Jr., was timed in 1:08.09.

I'll be out at Belmont tomorrow, weather permitting. The last legs of Gustav and Hanna are supposed to hit Long Island tomorrow afternoon, which is why the G1 Garden City was carded as the 3rd race, to avoid a possible washout. The Ruffian goes as the 9th and Indian Blessing is expected to run rain or shine, given her romp in the Monmouth slop in last year's BC Juvenile Fillies. [Update 9/6 11 am: Indian Blessing scratched.]

onehorse08 More than 1 year ago
hilarious big brown and curlin video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrC-E2BJKzY
Bruce Friday More than 1 year ago
saratoga_mike : Thanks for the tip to look at "Exotic Betting". I (re)-read Steve's section on the Pick Six and he does, as you suggested, answers most of my Pick Six questions in there.
bob cordaro More than 1 year ago
Steve, The low attendance at Woodward day should not have been a surprise to anyone because everyone expected Curlin to win with relative ease. The attendance may have been higher if Curlin was up against stiff competition. The message to the NYRA: companies are forced to advertise when their product is dull and this race looked pretty dull to most race fans.Advertising rarely lifts a dull product.
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Welcome back Steve. I suppose you might shake you head occasionally when witnessing how easily the absence of your blog depresses your legion of readers. Hope you can continue to indulge us whenever possible. Enjoyed your column regarding boutique meet business this year. You tossed out quite a few ideas. The one I've been unable to buy into all summer is the gas price. A Spa round trip for me (Northern NJ) is 330 miles. A $2.50 to $4 gas increase amounts to less than a $20 bill. With the other costs involved in a trip to Saratoga (or any other track) it's hard for me to see how that's going to red light anyone. General economic malaise I can buy. Not so sure about matching Spa stats with Kenneland/Del Mar. I do really feel that one of the evolving root causes of current and potential future problems with the Saratoga meet is deteriorating horse quality. I understand it's pointless to beat this thing to death and I gave up tilting at windmills I couldn't knock over a long time ago. However, when the number of NYSB restricted races goes from 492 to 770 in ten years, the NYSB foal crop goes from 1,321 to 1,910 in that same time, and the mission of the NYSB program is "ensuring a steady supply of fresh, competitive horses for each of New York's four tracks" the die is cast. Alliances have been formed and business decisions have been made. They will have effects on the product, and I feel a percentage of the fans perceive this and are reacting to it. I know I am. Your last sentence regarding "Curlin" day was spot on. I've found the Labor Day weekend one of my favorite times to visit the Spa, post 4 week meet. I'm surprised NYRA officials were looking for 30k to attend. Thought the 22k pretty good. It's just a much more laid back time the last week.
Rick More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, I also read your editorial and while I strongly agree with you 99% of the time, I think you should have pointed out that it was lack of competition that resulted in the low turnout for Curlin's Woodward. People will have more interest if the stars race through their 4-year-old season. But when Curlin looks like 1-5 on paper there's not much to watch.(Even though it turned out to be close) If Big Brown had been entered, the place would have been packed. If Street Sense was in, or even a healthy Heatseeker, there would have been the 30,000 track officials were hoping for. It's not just top stars, it's top competition.
SamG More than 1 year ago
Steve Welcome back from your brief and much deserved break.Tomorrow I`ll be going to the Sandwich Fair,a very nice old fashioned fair in Sandwich,Il. http://www.sandwichfair.com/ ,to load up on corn dogs and other delicacies.It`s a once a year thing so I won`t feel the least bit guilty.Good luck with the carryover,hopefully the rain holds off.
buffalo joe More than 1 year ago
Steve It wasn't the days off we were worried about, it was not knowing. Some of us feared foul play! I was expecting a passing of the hat to pay off the ransom you were being held for. Glad to see you escaped on your own.
j. silverio More than 1 year ago
i just finally bought your book Exotic betting tonight, i am mainly a pick 3 and 4 player, i will make the occasional win bet like everyone but prefer pick 3 and 4's. I am no genius, i only have a 2 yr business degree, but also am not a dummy, i must admit, i am totally confused and lost after reading the book. my normal pick 3/4 are 3-3-3 or 4-3-2, and i do ok, i always seem to catch 2/3 or 3/4, and more so i ALWAYS seem to catch the big price but can never close out tickets, has anyone else ever been confused with the book, if you could maybe send me a email, that would be great... i know a lot of ppl think they are good handicappers and are not, but i truly think i am, but i will admit to not putting my bets in the propper way and def. need help with that. tomorrow is a perfect example, i think indian blessing is a standout, i like bafferts other horse with her along with lil belle, and think frankels horse is over hyped and a toss, but i cant figure out how to bet the race ? do i use 3 and hope one of them beats indian, do i key her over the 2 in exactas, i just dont know.
Joe Becherer More than 1 year ago
Steve, loved your Saratoga blog, The writing is first class, So I think we all want to know how you did for the meet?
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Steve provides a tremendous service with this blog (especially during the Saratoga meet) and the DRF in general; he has always been innovative and ahead of the curve when it comes to providing information about our beloved sport. I was so impressed with my first purchase of this item several years ago, that I held onto it: http://home.comcast.net/~dan.mackenzie/131-3141_IMG.JPG This was on the back page that day. The image is readable at high magnification. It is advice that is as relevant today as it was then: http://home.comcast.net/~dan.mackenzie/131-3142_IMG.JPG Steve gives a great overview of the development and history of racing data here: http://www.drf.com/tc/kentuckyderby/2006/pps/pps_history.html