08/02/2008 12:59PM

Day 10: 8/2/08


12:59pm: It's raining here again and the forecast is for more throughout the day. The grass races are still on the turf and should stay that way, given that so far there's only been light rain since about 11 a.m. and the course was hard enough to be producing times like yesterday's 5.5f turf sprints in 1:02.66 and 1:01.95.

Today's card is a strong one, with several open allowance races, but through nobody's fault almost every race came up with a towering favorite -- not 3-5's that have to fall down to lose, but a lot of very logical-looking 7-5 shots. They're not all going to win, but Mogul Man (1st), True Dancer (5th), Compromise (7th), Heather's Angel (8th), National Pride (9th) and Indian Blessing (10th) all look like standouts on paper. Despite the lack of a carryover, I might fool around with the pick-6, requiring that any 2 or 3 of those 4 standouts in the sequence win, with an elaborate main/backup play.

And if you're so inclined, you can click here for the link to write your Congressman about the bill to eliminate the parimutuel withholding tax.

2:45 pm: Race 2 had the look of one of those key Saratoga baby races, and the first four finishers may all prove interesting youngsters going forward.

Spaniard, the highly-touted Baffert colt who was 9-10 when he neglected to run a lick in his Hollywood debut June 19, ran more to his advance billing today. Still, the half-brother to Indian Blessing was life and death to hold second behind runaway Dutrow second-timer Precious Perfect, a Jay Em Ess homebred by Golden Missile, who put Spaniard away at the top of the stretch and stopped the timer in 1:17.26.

The story of the race, however, may have been the colt who almost nipped Spaniard for second after breaking behind the field and storming home from another county: Viscount, a big, chestnut Orientate-Art Student colt who was gobbling up ground late. Also deserving of another chance is Zito firster Nowhere to Hide, a Vindication colt who was pounded late to go off a slight favorite over Spaniard.

Here's an oddity: With all the money for Nowhere to Hide, Spaniard and third-choice Precious Package, some usually automatically-bet firsters from big outfits went off at giant prices: Whe's the last time you saw a Saratoga baby race with totally unplayed firsters from Mott (18-1), Asmussen (21-1) and Pletcher(24-1)? In Pletcher's case, not one of his 104 juvenile firsters over the past five years at Saratoga had gone off higher than 11-1, and only 3 of his 447 juvenile firsters anywhere in the past five years have gone off at longer than today's 24-1.

In the 3rd, a pair of stakes bound N2x runners ran a predictable 1-2 when Oxley/Ward 3-year-old I'm So Lucky (Langfuhr-Pettit) won his third straight at 9-10 over 3-1 On Board again, a 5-year-old Stronach/Frankel project making his first start since running back-to-back seconds in the 2006 Pegasus and Discovery two Octobers ago.

No more rain since the last post, but the skies remain threatening. Fast and firm so far.

4:00 pm: As threatened, I got involved in the no-carryover pick-6, because I didn't know what else to do with four potential singles, to the tune of $564 and 17 tickets, as follows:

You know the drill: 6 A's, or 5 A's and a B, or 5 A's and a C, or 4 A's and two B's. Played as a caveman ticket, this would have been a 9x6x7x6x4x11, which would have cost $199,584, or $199,020 more than I felt like spending.

Got third-choice Pano's Love home as an A in the opener and the first single, Compromise, was a light year the best rallying from dead last to win going away (and give Bill Mott his overdue first win of the meeting.) So far so good.

6:00 pm: Indian Blessing was never threatened or challenged in the G1 Test, sitting third on the outside just off comfortable fractions, then taking over at will and powering to a 7-length victory at 2-5 over Sweet Hope. The daughter of Indian Charlie is now 7-for-9 with two seconds, and a four-time G1 winner.

In the 8th, 6-5 Heather's Angel had to work a little harder than expected to hold off Go Go Bar by a neck while I was trying to figure out whether I should be rooting for a 6-5 A or a 13-1 B. No question which way Is I was rooting in the 9th, though, through a stretch-long duel between B's Super Shape at 20-1 and West Express at 6-1. It didn't turn out optimally as West Express prevailed. National Pride, only narrowly favored at 2-1, stumbled badly at the start and never got involved thereafter.

So I'm alive to the 3 ($599), 10 ($5,417), 14 ($1,398) and 16 ($24,380). Here's something you don't get to say very often in racing: Let's go 16!

6:45 pm: Arrrrr to the 3-10 finish in the finale. The only thing to cheer about a $599 pick six is that it didn't pay $602, which would have subjected it to IRS reporting. And I guess it kept me out of trouble.