08/05/2010 1:49PM

Day 12: 8/5/10


SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A dark, stormy, steeplechasey start to Day 12, an unlovely day for a card where 6 of 10 are still scheduled for the grass. Nothing's been moved off yet, but they also haven't scratched all the main-track-onlies. So don't bet extra-early if you're a multirace player.

There's that new $100k guarantee on Thursdays for today's pick-6 pool, meaning NYRA will put up the difference if less than $100k is bet today. Yesterday's no-carryover pool, for example, was $76k. Maybe more people will play today because of the guarantee, but the uncertain weather may hold things down, as well as the lack of a free bingo square on the order of Convocation at 3-to-10 yesterday.

The rain was really pounding down for the opener, the $70k A. P. Smithwick Memorial, where uncoupled Jonathan Sheppard trainees Divine Fortune ($7.40) and Arcadius both caught even-money Slip Away in deep stretch after 16.5 furlongs in 3:58.98.

My favorite moment of the race was when Tom Durkin described a midpack runner showing no signs of eagerness to accelerate as "enjoying the comity of the herd."

In the second, a six-horse, all-firsters baby race, WinStar/Pletcher unveiled Skylord, a $515k February 2-year-old purchase. The Sky Mesa colt was bet to 8-5 and splashed home an easy 5 3/4-length winner in 58.03.


1:48 pm: The 4th and 6th were just taken off the grass even though the early pick-4 had already started with the 2nd. The third leg of the bet now becomes an "all" race.


2:20 pm: That "all" thing, not announced until 15 minutes after the 4th was taken off the turf, is moot if you singled 2-to-5 Driven By Success in the second leg, the $70k Morrissey for statebred sprinters. Second choice Endless Circle ($9.40) gave trainer Rudy Rodriguez his first New York stakes victory with a four-length front-running upset in 1:16.66 over a track belatedly labelled "sloppy".

Rodriguez, formerly the "house" jockey at NYRA who would fill in when no riders were available, has now won with 29 of his 84 starters (34 %) since beginning his training career in February. Last month he won his first stakes in the $100k Turf Sprint at Calder with Tahoe Warrior, who he had claimed for $20k in his previous start. Endless Circle, a 6-year-old by Precise End, was claimed for $14k on April 16 and has won three of four starts for his new trainer.


2:40 pm: If you don't like the weather in Saratoga, wait a few minutes. Moments before the off-the-turf 4th, the sun is out, the sky is blue and the Dixieland band is playing its dried-off horns.

Guarantee or no, I can't muster a Pick-6 play. Just look at the (needlessly) off-the-turf 6th: The six remaining starters have made a combined 29 career starts -- 19 on grass, 9 on synthetics, and 1 -- a 25-length defeat -- on dirt.


3:40 pm: Pletcher completed a sweep of the day's baby races by sending out uncoupled 9-1 Maple Forest and 9-2 Elusive Raven to run 1-2 in the distaff version of race 2. The time was 58.47 vs. Skylord's 58.03.

I know some people are going to squawk about the new mostly-uncoupled-entries rule after races like this, just like Californians do every time a longer-priced Baffert firster finishes in front of a shorter-priced one. If I had gotten involved in this race and had to pick between the two Pletcher entrants I might well have leaned toward the more-heavily-bet and seemingly better-bred Elusive Raven, who had Velazquez named, over Maple Forest and David Cohen.  But I also believe that these are largely random outcomes and a reflection of why betting first-time starters is a problemmatic guessing-game, not a matter of trainers running around misrepresenting their horses' abilities.


4:10 pm: The $100k guarantee worked: Pick-6 handle today was $112k.


5:10 pm: I swear I'm not being a redboarding wiseacre, but can anyone explain to me why Pulpit Point was the 2-1 favorite instead of a 10-1 outsider in today's 8th at Saratoga?

I suppose one need look no further than the Godolphin blue silks on his back for the first time, but this was incredible. Pulpit Point, off since last August, had won three straight races in France last summer, but they consisted of two cheap grass races at "La Teste de Buch" and a polytrack triumph at Deauville, following losses at Le Bouscat and Marseille-Borely.

I claim no expertise about French racing, but I've read enough Shuback to know that La Teste de Buch and Marseille-Borely ain't exactly Longchamps. This strikes me as the equivalent of a horse with grass victories at Penn National or Wyoming Downs going off the favorite in a tough N3x race at Saratoga. What am I missing?

Pulpit Point ran 8th of 9.


6:30 pm: Weird pick-6 willpays: Of the nine in the finale, four were covered twice for $35k, three were covered once for $70k, two were uncovered. It was as if one player was alive to seven of them and another was alive to four of those and that was it. In any case, it was Settling Seas ($9.10) who revered his recent lead-and-get-caught form by rallying from far back to take the nightcap, rewarding two winners at the $35k level.



Chaaa More than 1 year ago
Sadly Wyoming downs no longer conducts a race meet. They do however have a barrel racing weekend and this somehow allows the (questionable) ownership consortium to maintan WY OTB. Which is actually a good thing cause it;s the only way your gonna get a bet down if your W2 residence is in UT
hipponeut More than 1 year ago
Dear Steve, I too heard 'Crazy Eddie With A Thesaurus' and his "comity of the herd" remark. As you know, 'comity' was a vital word in Walt Whitman;s diction though ending in a different albeit allied predicate: Democracy. If I may, I;d like to recommend to your Brother in Girth a less happy though a ringier ringer: Comity of the Canaille. Adieu.
Pinky More than 1 year ago
For those interested in listening to Talking Horses try the new Paddock bar area. The sound is crisp and clear - probably due to the new speakers in the area.
Marc S. Roth More than 1 year ago
I adore summer racing at Saratoga. This seems like the first meet in 1/2 a decade where rain has not terribly disrupted scheduled turf races.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
"If you want to enjoy Talking Horses at Saratoga good luck! The sound system anywhere near the Carousel is an abomination!" I second the motion. When I was sitting in the Carousel audience before Steve & French Fries Jr. last Sunday, the sound of their voices bounced off & around every protruding audio obstruction & then banked off the Union Avenue buildings before coming back into the OAI (Open Air Inaudibletorium). I'm sure good points were made, but darned if I could understand half of the words spoken by either speaker. I mean, who's next on Talking Horses - Phil (Wall of Sound) Spector?
SeekingtheGold More than 1 year ago
Turf Johnny--Couldn't agree with you more. Thought the same thing. Full disclosure I too was alive to six of them. Watched the replay he hit him around the sixteenth pole and put the whip away as if he was riding secretariat. Can't complain too much as I think the pick 4 payed very well. Guessing the Weaver horse was left out of a lot of tickets.
ARCstats More than 1 year ago
Kevin M, if you want to compare the "accomplishments" of Rudy Rodriguez to a baseball player, Brady Anderson would be a more logical target. He played 15 seasons covering 1834 games, had only 210 career homers, yet amazingly he hit 50 of those in just 149 games in 1996. Remember what was going on in baseball in 1996?
Stephen More than 1 year ago
If you want to enjoy Talking Horses at Saratoga good luck! The sound system anywhere near the Carousel is an abomination! I sure miss Siro's .... On the other hand, the Hattie's fried chicken sandwiches are amazing! Happy Whitney Weekend!
jefftune More than 1 year ago
I have to agree about the terrible sound in the Carousel during Talking Horses. I was there last week and could barely make out a word here and there. It really needs to be fixed. It was SO much better at Siro's. Maybe they could do it outside somewhere at the track - with a real PA system.
Monty More than 1 year ago
Sorry Bengal Bob, but you are dead wrong on the sandwich, I have eaten at places all over the globe and the Hattie's chicken sandwich is one of the best things I have ever eaten. It's FRIED CHICKEN it is going to be a little salty, but nothing like what you described. I almost want to travel 13 hours to get back up there this weekend to enjoy another couple sammys.... MA
micclay More than 1 year ago
Kind of a tough meet so far to make any money. I have played the P4's with very small tickets as the smaller fields and strong favorites make the payoff potentials not worth the outlay. Seems more to be made on straight win bets or structuring a cheap Tri ticket. The new Paddock Bar area and the resturants are a great addition to the track. Need some chairs for the bar plus only one betting machine which starting today would not take my NYRA card. They have a voucher machine which needs to be turned into an additional betting unit. Question. We see european grass horses shipping to the US. Are there ever US based horses that ship to Europe for their careers?