07/23/2008 12:12PM

Day 1: 7/23/08

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1:15 p.m.: Into each Saratoga a little rain must fall. It used to happen a lot before someone broke the weather a few years back, so today's soaked and off-the-turf opener almost made one nostalgic for the days when Marshall Cassidy would carefully and deliberately recite what seemed like 82 late scratches.

Today there are a mere 41 so far, and we're down to fields of 6, 7, 6, 10, 7, 6, 7, 5, 10 and 7.

In the opener, main-track-only's Coach Butts (1-1) and Saint Barr (5-2) took all the money, and the latter sprinted away to a big early lead, but Star Player ($12.20) advanced steadily from second and ran him down, making Chad Brown the leading trainer at Saratoga for at least half an hour.

3:05 pm: Cognito, discussed in the previous post, was a $4.60 winner of an interesting first baby race of the meeting in the second race. The light gray colt broke to the lead from the rail, which is not looking like the best part of the track so far, fended off an early challenge from Gone Astray and a late one from Brave Victory to score by half a length in 1:05.11 over the sealed sloppy track.

Gone Astray, a Dixie Union-Illicit firster, showed surprising early foot for a Phipps homebred and went off at 13-1. Brave Victory, a Zito firster bet to 4-1, made two nice runs in the race, the first down the backstretch after a slow getaway and the second a good surge nearing the wire.

Accredit ($3.60) completed the first of the rolling doubles that have been introduced at the meet, and this one paid a whopping $7.50. Accredit got away with a clear lead through soft fractions (23.01, 46.57) and finished with a strong final quarter of 23.84 for a final time of 1:10.41. The victory snapped a five-race losing streak, albeit one that included three stakes placings and a dq.

5:00 pm: It's still raining and there's more on the way. There's no grass racing tomorrow again, and Thursday's first race, a steeplechase, has been flat out cancelled since it can't be taken off the grass. (Please, don't even think about it.) So first post will be 1:35, when what will still be called Race 2 will kick off a nine-race card. The cancelled steeplechase will be run next week.

With five today and three tomorrow, there have now been more off-the-grass races the first two days of the 2008 meeting than there were in the entire 36-day meeting last year, when only six were moved.

Second-timer Lookin at Her ($11.40) took today's 5th but keep your eye on runner-up Vinnie Van Go, who tried to come up the soupy rail, altered course and finished with a flourish for second. In the 6th, Steve Asmussen became the first trainer with two victories at the meet, following up Cognito in the 2nd with Jazz Nation, a 3 1/2-length winner in 1:04.07. Jazz Nation($6.70) was the 18-1 shot who in his second career start ran second to Margo's Gift in the $250k Favorite Trick Stakes last year on the Breeders' Cup Friday undercard. He'd lost his four subsequent starts, all on turf or synthetics, but was back at home in the slop today.

I played a little 2x2x5xall(7) $1 caveman late pick-4 for $140 worth of entertainment to complete what had to be my lowest-handle opening-day of the current milennium. There just wasn't much to bet on between the scratches and the slop, which I suspect will be borne out in the comparative handle figures at day's end.

I'm not a favorite to get my $140 back after dominating victories by Building New Era at 6/5 in the off-the-turf 7th and by Stormin Normandy at 3-5 in the off-the-turf 8th, the High Rock Springs Stakes for statebreds. Stormin Normandy, a 4-year-old IEAH/Dutrow colt by Stormin Fever, is now 7-for-13 lifetime and was timed in 1:03.97.

6:20 pm: Went from underdog to cinch to get that $140 back when Jardin ($26.40) won the Schuylerville as one of my five. Here's what I liked (a little) about her: While her winning Beyer of 68 in her CD debut was a bit slow for this group, she had one of the strongest finish-up times in today's field -- a final furlong in 12.10. It was a race where no one had won at six furlongs and I was looking for possible closers since both favorites looked like committed front-runners.

Glad I didn't fool around with the intrarace exotics because I would have had a lot of trouble coming up with 22-1 Cameron Crazies for second or 15-1 Girlfrienontheside for third, unless I had made the old greyhound-racing play of boxing the outside posts on a sloppy track. (The sometimes sharply banked turns in dogdom make the water and goop roll to the inside.) Maybe some old dog bettors were playing Saratoga triples because the 11-9-10 Schuylerville number was a little light at $2210. Second choice Collegiate held fourth while favored Ocean Colors (Orientate-Winning Colors) ran last after blasting to the early lead and stopping badly around the turn. Steve Asmussen trains the first- and last-place finishers.

Jardin, a $425k Ocala 2-year-old purchase by Satish Sanan's Padua Stables, is a Florida-bred daughter of Montbrook and the Valid Appeal mare Unlimited Pleasure. (Pretty good slop breeding too.) Her victory, the only won of the day at higher than 5-1 shot, gave Asmussen his third of the day.

The nightcap was a thriller that ended less than optimally for me and my "all" when 12-1 Sonny Pajamas somehow squandered a huge lead and lost the bob to 5-1 Debating, a 7-year-old Phipps castoff. The two were making their first starts since meeting June 26 at Belmont -- when Sonny Pajamas was the one who won by a nose.

Debating and Sonny Pajamas are the kind of horses you can set your watch by as a figuremaker. Eight of Debating's last 12 Beyers are between a 76 and a 79, and he was timed in 1:11.98. So it's going to be hard to come up with a particularly strong figure for the Schuylverville, which went in 1:12.79 half an hour earlier.

No carryover into Day Two: The pick six paid $20,869.

As for tomorrow, remember: The first race has been cancelled; the 4th, 6th and 8th are off the grass; and David Grening reports that Notonthesamepage, the morning-line favorite in the Sanford, will be scratched.

One down, 35 to go.

hz hackenbush More than 1 year ago
Bet the outside horse in the mud, exiting a stakes race, who can close and was sold for a lot of money but didn't run very fast last race. It also helps if the horse is the less-fancied half of an uncoupled entry, wearing stickers, dropping five pounds, ridden by a hot apprentice and the trainer always fires for this owner at this meet. Gray's nice, too.
Brooklyn Backstretch More than 1 year ago
As I understand, it's not NYRA who decided not to show replays from the website any longer; it was some condition of the re-organized OTB agreement. Why OTB (or the state) has any say over NYRA's showing its own property on its own website, I have no idea, and I haven't found anything that helps explain it.
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Steve, your mention of Marshall Cassidy sure does bring back memories. I've enjoyed and had tons of regard for almost every track announcer I've experienced. But Marshall Cassidy had a different approach from any other I've heard. Deliberate and careful he surely was, but I found him a true treasure in the booth. I don't know if anyone remembers hearing his call of a race featuring a horse named "What A Wabbit." Think it was trained by Frank Wright. Marshall must have had it planned, as the horse ducked inside in the stretch to make a winning move he called "that's What a Wabbit on the wail". Too many moons ago I'm afraid.
tbone More than 1 year ago
steve, have been watching HRTV this morning and have heard track bias mentioned more than once. Some horses did win from inside yesterday, so I'm not convinced the inside was that bad ( obviously you didn't want to be right on the rail). Do you have an opinion on a possible bias? thanks
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
7th race. Visionaire. Look at this comment from Churchill on June 14. Interesting. VISIONAIRE in a bit tight entering the first turn when forwardly placed, recovered quickly and raced within easy striking distance outside, moved in company with the winner on the second turn while outside that one, challenged four wide entering the stretch but weakened in the final furlong.
John C. More than 1 year ago
I bet both Jardin and Cameron Crazies in the Schuylerville; I liked the field-topping 12-second final furlong that Jardin ran in her debut and I was impressed that CC, after blazing a first quarter in 21 and 1, didn't completely collapse in the Debutante. I figured that CC might hang on, running in the Saratoga slop. However, I put these two fillies over and under the two favorites WITHOUT putting them with each other. Poor betting = no $375 exacta for me. Rats.
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
str3268, Rutgers: There seems to be a lot of understandable confusion regarding superfecta rules in NY, which I've been saying for years need to be changed. Currently, there must be EIGHT betting interests, and no coupled entries are permitted. The first provision is supposed to make race-fixing harder and the second is to keep the public from being confused by having to go down to fifth place if a 1 and 1a both finish in the top four. I swear I'm not making this up. It's completely loony. No one at the Board can defend these inane provisions and it seems no one there can be bothered to change them. Chuck, Scratch time is the morning of the race and it can't suddenly be moved up to the previous afternoon just because it's decided to take races off the grass the next day.
ironprospect More than 1 year ago
On july 18th I purchased a ticket on the P-6 at Belmont. I purchased this ticket admittedly early right after scratches were announced at 1:00 pm as this was a twilight Belmont card I learned later that one of my selection in the very 1st leg was a late scratch. Image my surprise upon finding that the ticket was not found by the wrotb corporation, when I was looking for the $36 portion of the wager that should have been refunded. Yes, I did look at what are listed for your rules. And I cannot tell you how much I disagree w/ them. Why if my horse is scratched , in the opening leg, before the opening leg has closed for wagering, am I stuck w/ the post time favorite. Instead of a refund This is wrong. Sure if I was at Belmont, I could have rushed to the window and tried to cancel my ticket and then replace it with the scratch but I wasn't at Belmont. I was in surburban Buffalo. I placed the wager approximately 3 and half to 4 hours prior to post time. I state again the scratched horse was in the first leg of the wager. Why is every scratch in the P-6 recycled to the posttime favorite, even the 1st leg.
John O' More than 1 year ago
I would like too see the numbers on S.A. uncoupled entries.On numerous occassions the longer one has one with this guy.
Hammer More than 1 year ago
Sedonia, good call on Jardin