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Damp Doublecarry Day
11:50 am: Showery, sloppy and off the turf for Friday's $109k double-carryover at Belmont on the first twilight card of the season.
First post is 3 p.m., with Commentator still scheduled to prep for the Whitney in the third race, where he's 1-5 on the ML for the $65k Kashatreya Stakes for statebreds. The pick-6, unhit Wednesday and Thursday, begins one race later:
I'll update the field sizes in the chart above after scratches are posted; I'm expecting lots of them.
--Commentator, who finished second to Curlin in the balloting for champion older male last year, is the first of five multiple G1 winners running in the next three days who have been finalists for Eclipse Awards over the last two years:
I'll be back when today's scratches are up.
1:20 pm: The sun's out for a while on what's turning into a steamy afternoon. Scratches are in, including 26 of them in the pick-6 sequence. We're down to a 7x7x7x5x5x8. You can buy it for $137,200. I was planning on about $136k less.
4th: 1,9,10; 5th: 2,3,4; 6th: 4; 7th: 1,2,2b,4,6,7,8,9; 8th:1a,2,4,5,6,7; 9th: 1a,5,7,9,11
2:45 pm: Regardless of how the pick-6 comes out, it's been a winning day: I had been bummed out that the only three days that the summer Steely Dan tour was coming through New York were the first three days of Saratoga. I schemed and checked Albany airline schedules, but there was just no way to make an 8 pm curtain without missing some racing. But this morning they added three more shows including one on August 4, the first dark day of the meeting, and I just grabbed a pair online. Early warning: I might not be back in time for the early double Aug. 5th.
4:20 pm: Well that was weird. Commentator won the Kashatreya at 1-5 as expected, but that had to be the first time in his career that he's run faster late than early. Commentator, ridden by John Velazquez, absolutely strolled to the lead, getting away with a half-length lead through an opening half-mile in 48.94, which just about warmed him up enough to run the second half-mile in 46.71 for an easy 7-length victory in 1:35.65. You'd call it a paid public workout if he'd had to work at any point. Commentator, now 14- for 23, ran his four quarters in 24.75, 24.19, 23.23 and 23.48.
The weird fractions weren't a function of the wet (now officially "muddy") track. Once race earlier, maiden claimers went the opening half in 46.93 and finished in 1:39.04, meaning the second half of that race went in 52.11.
Seven firsters in the upcoming first leg. The Rick Dutrow trainee opened as the 8-5 favorite, but the surprise was that the CO-second choices come from Todd Pletcher and Kathleen Feron. When a Pletcher and a Feron firster are the same price, that suggests a LOT of whispers on Feron, not so much on Pletcher. At least that's how I'm proceeding.
Time to put in the tickets.
4:45 pm: Guessed right with Dutrow and Feron, who ran 1-2 in that order to open up my "C" tickets later on. The play below ran $1260 -- $648 for the all-A's-andB's main ticket, and six backups totalling another $612:
Why did I single the Dutrow firster as an A? Well, in addition to my wanting to keep the play to around $1200,it was how heavily he was pounded in the multirace bets, especially in the double from Commentator -- which paid the exact same $5.30 for $2 that Cajun Jet did to win.
The Feron firster, Cayo Hueso, broke sharply under Prado and went to the lead under Prado, who looked back to his inside at the top of the stretch as if he were home free. But Cajun Jet, who'd been third behind him at the rail, had just switched to the outside and suddenly blew past Prado and Cayo Hueso, seemingly before he saw them coming, to win by 3 1/4 lengths in 57.76.
5:05 pm: I wasn't entirely sold on the Papa Jerry/Five Demon Bag entry at 3-5, but they ran 1-2 with no one else close to complete a very chalky start to the sequence.
I guess the people who pounded Cajun Jet in the 3-4 double didn't get involved in the 3-4-5 pick-3: The Commentator-Cajun Jet double paid $5.30, but the pick-3 adding a 3-5 shot paid more than three times as much at $16.40.
6:15 pm: Ask me in an hour whether I'm glad that 6-1 I'llthinkofsumthin nosed out 1-1 Salt Water Reign. If I get there with my sad little 2x1 ticket, it will have been a delightful result, but with the fave I'd have been3x2 and 2x4 and 4x1, albeit preceded by four straight winning favorites.
In the meantime: Free at last! My weekend columns have been liberated from behind the paywall and you can click here to read the one in the Sunday paper. Feel free to use this blog to quarrel or huzzah about any of them, starting with this offering on why we should leave the Triple Crown alone.
6:45 pm: You only had to wait half an hour to ask. On the other hand, I'm not going to whine about not being alive to a pick-6 that would probably be paying less than I put in had an even-money shot won. Hopeful Image was a big price at $19.20 as my third choice, but alas a B when I needed an A. The probables are $4,867 to the 12, Seek On, and $5,270 to the 10, Brockly Rob, but since all the scratched horses are listed with a probable of $5,270, those willpays may be based on Brockly Rob's having opened a slight favorite. I suspect that honor will go to Seek On by post time, perhaps changing the payoffs slightly.
7:30 pm: Brockly Rob easily, Seek On never got a call and checked in next-to-last as the favorite. The sequence paid $5,270. On to tomorrow.
Steve, Any chance you've read this new biography of British handicapper Patrick Veitch. Came up on my Amazon list....looks pretty interesting. Enemy Number One: The Secrets of the UK's Most Feared Professional Punter (Hardcover) by Patrick Veitch (Author)
"It... they demand, must be changed... It's not fair...Of all the bad ideas floating around... and there are plenty, this one may be the worst, simply because it would devalue, discredit, and ruin one of the very, very few things... that works just about perfectly... Change it, and the... new and dumbed-down version... will be diminished, and the asterisk will overshadow... This... flaws and all, has captured the public imagination for decades, and altering its fundamentals even slightly would explode all... created by that history. The thinking behind making changes may be well-meaning, but embraces a lot of fiction and nonsense. 'We have to do it for the poor... !' cry those trying to cast it as a human(e) issue... This is ludicrous. We... celebrate it as something truly special - unless we have given in to this attempt to disconnect ourselves... and thrown up the white flag... Lets stop trying to fix it." Somebody finally came up with a non-religious stance against so-called "gay marriage". Thanks Steve!
Steve : I just dont see Kip Deville going for it in the Poker. Why would Dutrow waste a bullet on a 60K pay day for such a classy Horse when he has bigger fish to fry down the road. The horse just got back from UAE- a trip that has ruined better horses. Dutrow will fatten up his price when he bumps up to a G-1 and place a large bet of his own.
Steve, Just read your article in today's DRF about tinkering with the Triple Crown. I have to say that I totally disagree with you. I would like to see a Triple Crown winner every year. And speaking of cherished records in sports, why stop with horse racing. So I called baseball commissioner Bud Selig and suggested that he move all of the outfield fences in 50 feet. Don't know about you, but I don't want to wait another 75 years years to witness three guys hit 700 lifetime homers. Now if I could just figure out a way to break DiMaggio's record of hitting safely in 56 games. Hey,68 years is long enough. Any suggestions ?
Pick 5 carryover at MTH on Wednesday. 50 cent bet!
Off topic but i saw this on a harness racing site: $15,000 claiming pacers will race on the turf at the Meadowlands on Friday, June 19.
Steve, Thanks for the DONT TRY TO FIX THE TRIPLE CROWN column. I fully agree with you. My best racing buddy and my fiancee, a big racing fan who I met on the internet, in fact, both think we wont see another in our lifetime. I disagree with them and think we all have to keep the faith that a truly special horse will come along and all the chips will fall into place for him/her. I surely "aint" easy but thats what makes it so special I would rather have only one winner ever 10 or 20 years than 1 every 2nd or 3rd year. The "specialness" would be lost.
They are running a lot of 5 horse fields. Last Friday. This scratch at the gate made it only 4, and they had to refund show and exactas. They have another 5 horse race on Thursday, a maiden for fillies to give Baffert a win. I guess they couldn't find 5 NW of 1 fillies, because Anthony Dutrow had to take Cat Moves to Delaware.
Steve, I don't think you'll get a whole lot of objection on the triple crown, anyone understanding accomplishment in sports gets it. But, where does the whole Pimlico thing fit in? If Pimlico fails it presents a problem that will allow a live discussion on change (even a small change enables those looking for bigger ones). I assume it won't be allowed to fail, but... Prozac... nice rant, but too logical in many ways. Last, like any sport, the grab for money has permiated the sport. Baseball, golf, hockey, and hoops have overexposed the fan base and created a lack of "must see" events. The triple crown remains, but outside of it, the money allows the top stars to pick and choose from too many options and water down the sport. Perceived talent is lauded and ultimately exposed. In this era of working more for less disposable income, too many dates and lack of quality racing leaves those of us with limited time in a bind. More twilight or evening racing might help, because noon on Thurs or Fri isn't an easy sell for most who have the $$$ to contribute to the game.
Here's who I think may run well today @ Bel: R3 #1 Master-if he's ready off the layoff he will finish fast (turf only)....R5 #8 Senegal-just a trainer hunch play....is EZ Dollar in R8 the exotic bomb of the day??? May not get a pace to run at but can hit the board at a suspected 20-1 plus.... when I was younger the word on Steely Dan is that they were a studio band, like the Alan Parsons Project. Let's just say that some extracurricular activities kept them from touring! My favorites are still 'My Old School', 'Black Cow', and 'Boston Rag'....Countdown To Ecstasy was their best album, IMO.