08/08/2009 1:30PM

Day 10: 8/8/09


1:30 pm: Glorious day to be back at Saratoga: Sunny and mild, fast and firm, Commentator goes for his third Whitney, $140k double-carryover in the pick-6, $500k guaranteed late pick-4. Maybe I'm just having an endorphin rush from my first Hattie's fried-chicken sandwich since Sunday, but the stage seems set for a good day at the races.

A blog reader came up to me after the "Talking Horses" seminar and presented me with the closest thing I've seen to a bag of Cheese Waffies yet this season: They're "Martin's Cheese Sandwich on Waffles," billed as "Xtreme Cheese with a Crunch," and they're not bad. Thank you, kind sir. Who knew that Waffies had imitators?

Asiatic Boy's out of the Whitney but there were no other key scratches on the card. Post times for today's six Grade 1's (ET):

4:05 pm: Secretariat (AP)

4:52 pm: Beverly D. (AP)

5:17 pm: Test (Sar)

5:42 pm: Arlington Million (AP)

5:49 pm: Whitney (Sar)

8:30 pm: Bing Crosby (Dmr)

3:20 pm: Not that I did it, but there was outstanding value in the early pick-4 playing three open races into kinda-had-to-fall-down-to-lose Afrikaner in the final leg. The sequence of Andiron ($19.00), Fort McCoy ($17.20), Immortal Eyes ($10.20) and Afrikaner ($3.20) works out to a parlay of $1,331 but the pick-4 paid $2,520.

Commenter Gerald asked why there's no DRF/NTRA tourney qualifier at Saratoga. There's really no suitable place to headquarter one here, and no indoor location if to move it if you had a rainy day. Commenter Silver Charm asked if I would be playing Commentator at 8-5. No, but he and Smooth Air are my only two A's in the Whitney.

Time to make the tickets. Pick-6 begins in 17 minutes.

3:45 pm: Shades of last Saturday: Down to one CAAAAA backup ticket after the first leg. I leaned heavily on favored Ketubah, who did too little too late to catch $15.60 Exclusive Scheme. So the lone live ticket is the 3x2x2x2x4 in the "A" column below:


The play was $1952: A $672 "all A's and B's" and six "one C" backups costing $576, $128, $192, $96, $192 and $96. It's the $576 ticket that's alive. You hate to use up your only lifeline on the first question, but it beats being dead.

4:35 pm: The pick-6 handle was $617,834 on top of the carryover.

Was just informed that the Teletimer's gone kerflooey again here. Everything since the third race has been hand-timed and the rest of the card will be as well.

4:55 pm: Nice return for Maram, now 4 for 4, winning the inaugural John Hettinger Stakes for 3-year-old turf fillies. Last year's BC Juvenile Turf Fillies winner scored by just a half and a neck over Bluegrass Princess and Kiawah Cat, but was making her first start in nine months and looked like she had more to give if needed. She looks like a contender for G1 3F fall races such as the Garden City or QE II, where she might run into American Oaks winner Gozzip Girl.

Late pick-4 handle was $672k, well over the $500k guarantee but also well short of last Saturday's $834k. 

5:20 pm: That's twice now that fillies who challenged Rachel Alexandra early and were beaten a city block for their trouble have come back to win Grade 1 races in their next starts. Gabby's Golden Gal went with RA early in the Kentucky Oaks, was beaten 29 1/4 lengths, and returned to take the Acorn. Today it was Flashing, who stayed with RA for the first six furlongs of the Mother Goose June 27, was beaten 31 1/2 lengths, and returned to win the Test.

So much for my Pick-6's. Flashing was my lone B behind Cat Moves and Heart Ashley, but I lost her when I began with a C. My theory was that Heart Ashley was the best alternative to the favorite because she might get loose today after being in big duels in her last two. She did, and I was hopeful turning for home as she had a two-length lead through mild fractions, but she showed today she just doesn't want to go a step beyond six furlongs.

5:58 pm: Bullsbay's implausible Whitney victory at $39.60 left only 10 live pick-6 tickets: four of them (for $120k) to I'mthequeenofqueens, and one apiece to the 1,5,6,9,10 and 12 for $483,828. A triple carry of $483k would be on Sunday's menu if the 2,4,7 or 11 wins.

On the one hand you could say that Bullsbay was right there with good horses when he was fourth in the G1 Foster, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths, but he had a clean trip in that race while Macho Again, Asiatic Boy and Einstein were banging into one another before finishing in front of him in that order. He had never run a fast-track Beyer of higher than 98, and it usually takes a lot more than that to win the Whitney, but maybe the 5-year-old is finally finding himself.

As for Commentator, he was clear but closely pursued through quick fractions (23.49, 46.38) rather than settling into the comfortable cruising speed that won him his two previous Whitneys. He was good to hold third, beaten 3 lengths, while those who chased him (including, somewhat surprisingly, slight favorite Smooth Air) faded badly, but it just wasn't his day.

6:30 pm: Two of the only four uncovered horses ran 2nd and 3rd in the nightcap, but 19-1 Tutti Va Bene completed a lone winning $483,828 pick-6 ticket that was sold on YouBet.com.

Maybe it's just as well there's no triple carryover, since someone at NYRA seemed to have lost track of how many races they're running tomorrow (11) and made a race with 10 first-time starters the 7th race -- the second rather than first leg of the pick-6. Why would you put the only maiden race on the card in that spot?