08/02/2010 2:18PM

Day 10: 8/2/2010


2:10 pm: Like 5 1/2-furlong races? Then you're in hog heaven at Saratoga on Day 10, where the first four races, and five of the first six, are at 11/16ths of a mile, two on dirt and three on grass.

The first two turf sprints, both statebred allowances, went in 1:02.12 and 1:01.89. While the memory of the opening-day downpours here are a bit too fresh to make anyone actually wish for more, the turf course could use a drink and there's plenty of dirt being kicked up on the turns a quarter of the way through the meeting.

Lookin at Lucky's four-length Haskell romp, and whether or not he'll run in the Travers Aug. 28, were the talk of the track today. The slight leader of the 3-year-old division became its clear leader on Sunday, perhaps so clear that winning the Travers now seems strategically unnecessary to his camp, which might instead wait for the  Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 25.


3:30 pm: Not that the Monday card isn't holding my rapt attention, but the above paragraph got me wondering: does winning two or more of the "Big Five" 3-year-old races -- the Triple Crown, Haskell and Travers -- pretty much make you the 3-year-old champion male regardless of what (if anything) you do against older horses in the fall?

Well, you know what usually happens around here when I get to wondering: Chart Time!

Here are the last 20 years of results for those races, with the eventual 3-year-old male winner highlighted in yellow and the three fillies who won them -- all voted champion 3-year-old filly -- highlighted in blue: 

So the quick answer is yes. Other than Sea Hero in 1993 and Street Sense in 2007, the only horses who won two of the five and were not voted an Eclipse Award did so in years when somebody else won two -- Birdstone vs. Smarty Jones, Lemon Drop Kid vs. Charismatic, Coronado's Quest vs. Real Quiet, Touch Gold vs. Silver Charm, and Tabasco Cat vs. Holy Bull. Nobody but Lookin at Lucky can win two this year unless Super Saver were to win the Travers.

Some other nuggets:

--Point Given is the only horse on the list to win four of the five. Big Brown, War Emblem and Thunder Gulch each won three.

--The Preakness -- the race people want to "fix" by moving it farther away from the Derby -- is the runaway leader in crowning 3-year-old champion males: 13 of the last 20, compared to 9 for the Derby, 6 for the Belmont and 5 each for the Travers and Haskell.

--The only time during this span the 3-year-old champion did not win any of the five races was in 2000, when five different colts won the five races and Tiznow trumped them all by winning the Breeders' Cup Classic. None of the four other 3-year-olds who won the Classic but none of the Big Five races earlier in the year -- Proud Truth in 1985, Concern in 1994, Cat Thief in 1999 and Ravens Pass in 2008 -- was the champion 3-year-old.  


4:45 pm: Traner Gregory DiPrima was on a 0-for-27 streak at Saratoga, including a 0-for-19 meet last year, but in the space of three hours won two races here today: the 3rd with Mighty Tuff and the 7th with Australis Princess.


5:15 pm: The last time Discreetly Mine raced at Saratoga, he won a maiden race by 6 1/4 lengths against a first-timer named ... Super Saver. Eight months later, Discreetly Mine was 13th at 31-1 in Super Saver's Kentucky Derby, but now he's been reinvented as a sprinter and a very good one: In his Saratoga return, he just won the featured G2 Amsterdam Stakes by 8 3/4 lengths in a sharp 1:14.27, and now it's on to a rematch with D'Funnybone in the G1 King's Bishop here Aug. 28.

D'Funnybone beat him in both the Futurity last year and the Woody Stephens on Belmont Day, but got a poor ride in the latter start, dueling early with the uncontrollable Eightyfiveinafifty before winning the battle but losing the war. Since being switched to jockey John Velazquez for his last two starts, Discreetly Mine has rated off hot early fractions and finished strongly, winning the G3 Jersey Shore last out and now the Amsterdam.

Discreetly Mine is by Mineshaft (!) out of the Private Account mare Pretty Discreet, making him a half-brother to the brilliant Discreet Cat.


6:15 pm: Even with Zapparition ($25.00) winning the finale, the pick-6 was hit by nine people and paid $4890. (It would have paid $678 with favored Zodiac Girl.) Off to do some (window-)shopping at the yearling sales.


Rich_P More than 1 year ago
You just did more for marketing horse racing than the sport has done for itself in the last 30 years. "The Big 5" What a great concept! Maybe one day the Pennsylvania Derby will become the 6th piece of that puzzle, with it all wrapping up at the Breeders Cup. Your chart (indirectly including the prep races leading up to the first Saturday in May), spans February to the end of August. Tie in the Breeders Cup and you have a 9-month "racing season." I understand all that derail a campaign with those races in mind, but the fact that the chart is filled with yellow proves that year in and year out, the horses at the top of the 3yo division consistently take part in a majority of these races.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Originally posted this in Mike Watchmaker's blog, replying to that article, but I thought it would be of interest here concerning what he said in that blog concerning Zenyatta: While it's true you can't force owners to run in races they don't want to go into, it's just one more sign we have lost something in this sport that is needed: Sportsmanship. It is that reason that if I had Zenyatta, she would be facting Quality Road this Saturday in the Whitney at Saratoga followed by the Woodward on September 4. I still believe sometimes you have put your own interests aside and do what the public wants if you have a top horse. In that regard, I remember reading not too long ago about how one year the late Martha Gerry made a point of running Forego in the Whitney even though it was in the mud/slop he was not fond of, just to keep the fans happy. It may not be the same thing as a cross-country ship, but the point is, the late Mrs. Gerry understood the fans sometimes have to come ahead of what may be best for the horse, and if you have a horse like Zenyatta, you owe it to the sport to run Zenyatta at Saratoga, if only in the name of sportsmanship. That's why I would run Zeynatta at Saratoga in both the Whitney and Woodward even though neither may be the best spot for her, simply doing it out of sportsmanship and giving the general public what they want.
Richhf More than 1 year ago
"I still believe sometimes you have put your own interests aside and do what the public wants if you have a top horse. In that regard, I remember reading not too long ago about how one year the late Martha Gerry made a point of running Forego in the Whitney even though it was in the mud/slop he was not fond of, just to keep the fans happy." Sadly the game has become "run them until they achieve a high breeding value". Why bother giving fans what they want - quality racing - when you can bring him to the breeding shed and have him spend the rest of his life rolling in the hay frequently. That's part of the reason why match races have gone away, it seems.
BJC More than 1 year ago
Steve, Not that you're running a Fodor's travel guide or anything...but have you written a "first-timers" blog post about Saratoga with your recommendations (food, hotel, must see activities, etc)? I'm making my first trip next summer...maybe an idea for a Monday card where the racing isn't keeping your interest.
Clay Peters More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed your comments on Leon Blusiewicz and Admiral Alex. Although many may question Leon's plan to run Admiral Alex in the Travers, he has a history of winning stakes races after a maiden win. One of your readers commented on Leon's success with Snow Plow in winning a maiden race and then winning the Grade 1 Selima but what wasn't mentioned is that Snow Plow also won the Grade 1 Demoiselle for her third win in a row. I believe she was the only filly to win two Grade 1 races that year. We expected Snow Plow might win an Eclipse award that year but a Calumet filly who won one Grade 1 race was given the award. Leon is a legend in Maryland and has a large following of friends that give consideration to every horse he trains and runs. During the running of the Admiral Alex race the second floor @ Pimlico sounded much like the roar of the crowd for the Preakness. If Leon chooses to run Admiral Alex in the Travers and he wins the noise from Pimlico will be heard all the way up to Saratoga and our pockets will be bulging. Personally, if Admiral Alex goes in the Travers I will be in atttendance at Saratoga and hopefully will be in the winners circle with Leon and all of his many friends.
Bill Taylor More than 1 year ago
Just a comment about the chart writer in New York. in my forty plus years as a student of the game think he is by far the best in giving race details and in a very literate manner. They are new and refreshing day in and day out, not just for the "big ones". I actually enjoy reading them. Who is he, the chart callers name used to be included in the charts. A tip of the cap to him, reading the charts has become a pleasure once again
johnantimo More than 1 year ago
Regarding your chart, it seems that once again Sea Hero is the exception to another pattern that top horses produce. An exception animal, but maybe not in a good way.
partisan More than 1 year ago
AARRGHH....[In the Amsterdam,] I had the 5 keyed on top of the 3, 4, 7 a few times and an extra 5-4-3,7 for that juicy $240 tri. I decided to take a stand against Safe Trip about this time last night and would certainly have played the same key combo for $6 a few times had I known (or checked ---aarrghh: ultimately my own fault!!) there was a super. Sorry for the late night semi-rant but I needed to vent and ... it's been a tough spa meet for me so far and I handicapped the race almost perfectly (had the 3 more likely to show than the 7) that I feel I really deserved to cash big on it. I don't play or put a lot of money into supers and then it's mostly keying a horse over three others for $6 (took down the $8,000+ Melbourne Cup super keying the field over three horses, two of which channeled Silky Sullivan to get up, that way). nite, nite [There was NO super on the race when DRF went to press, and a super was only added when there was a part-of-entry scratch Friday at noon because of the inane NY rule about no-supers-on-races-with-entries. -SC]
Partisan More than 1 year ago
Steve - thanks for the clarification about the superfecta situation in the Amsterdam. I guess I've been too long away from NY and actually didn't know about the entry/no super rule.
larry More than 1 year ago
It seems very "strange" to me that over the weekend,heavy favorites; Cost of Freedom,Forever Together,and Unrivaled Bell all stumbled out of the gate,and lost the race. Why don't the longshots ever stumble???
Roseben More than 1 year ago
re: Big 5 3-year-old Races an inspired chart inclusion of Haskell is an exception in that, unlike the others, it has not been run during the selected era as weight for gender would like to see how tally is altered by inclusion of contestants going back to when Haskell was last restricted to 3yos: (some time after Spectacular Bid won it as a 4yo under 132 pounds in 80) to include such notables as: Bet Twice Forty Niner / re: "Discreetly Mine . . . reinvented as a sprinter" how about: . . . misconstrued as a stayer?
Wayne 80 More than 1 year ago
Did you check out the Party in the Park section after the races yet? Whoever designed the bandstand has never attended a rock n roll club (or the Horseshoe down the block). Why would you ever put the stage on a balcony facing away from the tent where your customers want to party?? Only the select few on the balcony actually can see the band. Ridiculous. Saturday night, the balcony was completely empty and the poor singer was trying to rouse the crowd while running around up there, but no one on their way out the gate even realized there was a band up there. As for the food, dont wast your money on the Blue Smoke pulled pork, over priced small portion, like a slider and no better quality than the Carolina BBQ. Worst of all their are no tables to eat, grown men dressed nicely were trying to balance their trays on the trash cans. When I asked the server she told me the tables were upstairs, so I climbed the stairs carrying the pull porke, fries and a beer with no cover only to find all the tables taken by the music fans. So I returned and ate the sandwhich at the serving counter. Poor planning, need to make some changes, fast. But thanks for the tip on Hatties Fried Chicken, my whole group got involved and thoroughly enjoyed, a meal unto itself, the real deal.