08/01/2007 11:42PM

Claiming Day

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The yearling sales don't start until Monday, but horse trading was in full swing at Saratoga on Day 7:

Race 1: If you bet on even-money Rumspringa and tore up your tickets when he lost his rider coming out of the gate, get out the Scotch tape. Rumspringa was being held by one of the assistant starters when the gate opened and was declared a non-starter. That's also why if you throught you were getting 9-1 on the victorious Auto City, you instead got $12.60. Auto City, like Emirates to Dubai last week, is another horse whose name is a commercial for his owner: William Fuccillo's statewide auto dealerships including Auto City are a staple of late-night tv advertising with the tagline "Huge!"

Let the buying begin: The first three finishers went untouched but there were four claims out of the race, including Rumspringa, at $25k each.

Race 2: Maybe the monstrous purses at this meet are prompting so much activity at the claim box. Four of these $50k 2-year-olds went off to new homes, something I don't remember seeing in a maiden-claiming race in New York. The haltered included Double or Nothing, D. Wayne Lukas's first winner of the meet.

Race 3: Just Starting, the only one in for a tag in this N3x/OC75 for older sprinting fillies, went from Gary Contessa to Pat Reynolds. Three races, nine claims for a total of $375,000.

Race 6: The store was open a final time and another pair was claimed for $35k each -- and these weren't open $35k claimers but non-winners of two lifetime! Final score: Four races in which 30 horses were entered to be claimed produced 11 claims for a total of $445,000.

Race 7: Frankel first-turfer Tight Grip figured to be 7-5 or less but floated to 5-2 amid a surge of support for On Fire, who dead-heated for seventh and continued an emerging trend in turf-sprint-happy New York racing: I don't have any data, but it sure seems that horses making their debuts in turf sprints and then stretching out on the grass in their second starts are routinely overbet and underperforming.

Race 9: Fantastic Shirl (discussed in the previous post) completed a training four-bagger for Lukas and his former assistants: D. Wayne himself won the 2nd, Dallas Stewart won the 3rd with Georgetown, Mark Hennig took the 7th with Lauren's Tizzy and Kiaran McLaughlin trains Fantastic Shirl.

Isn't there also another former Lukas assistant, guy by the name of Pletcher, who occasionally wins a race?