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Day 13: 8/12/09
1:15 pm: Hot, partly cloudy, fast and firm for the start of Week 3 at Saratoga, a clean-out-the-closet kind of card with a few oddities, likeable and otherwise.
The fourth is a two-mile dirt race which has drawn a weird field of nine ranging from the last-place finisher in a recent six-furlong stakes at Presque Isle to a 3-year-old grass filly to long-winded 6- and 7-year-old geldings such as Lord Kipling, Firewood and Critical Acclaim. A 16-furlong race obviously qualifies for the distance-based purse-incentive program, so a field of nine in which six are racing under $35k optional-claiming tags offers a $78,950 purse.
That's still barely half as much as the nominal feature, the "Cab Calloway Division" of the New York Stallion Stakes, where a $150,000 purse for statebred 3-year-old grass runners just makes it look like the state breeding program has more money than it knows how to spend. The same horses would have shown up for half as much money and it's hard to argue that these races are attracting better stallions to the state as six of the eight entrants were sired by New York stallions standing for $5k or less.
--Took an actual day off yesterday and strolled through town, where foot traffic and retail sales appeared sluggish in comparison to recent seasons. Even the crafts fair in Congress Park had half as many booth as usual. Every year it seems that few more quirky Saratoga stores disappear, replaced by outlets of national chains. Most interesting new place: A studio on Broadway selling pianos, some of them hand-painted with racing scenes (confusing artsy picture shot through window, at left.)
Since it was a dark day, I got to do the afternoon-dogwalk honors, and two complete strangers asked if the spotted hound was the famous Popeye of 17-pound spleen renown.
I know they mean well, but it drives me crazy when other people who see me out with the hounds, here or downstate, routinely ask if they are "rescue dogs," as if I had to sneak into a dog track in the middle of the night to liberate them from their cruel racing masters. They're not rescued from anything. They are put up for adoption when they're retired, and almost all of them find homes nowadays because the word has gotten out about what great pets and companions they are.
3:00 pm: Maybe this is what Saratoga was like back in the 19th Century: Lord Kipling, coming off a 1 5/8-mile race just five days ago, led all the way to win the 2-mile dirt race in 3:27.78. The 6-year-old gelding is a son of Kipling, the son of Gulch and Weekend Surprise best known for siring Kip DeVille. Million Seller, a 3-year-old filly by A. P. Indy and a Japanese-bred Sunday Silence mare, was the distant runner-up as the only filly in the field.
Lord Kipling, the runner-up in the 13-furlong Coyote Lakes and Gallant Fox at Aqueduct last December, is a possibility for the Breeders' Cup Marathon, which has been extended from 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 miles this year.
4:20 pm: It's not thrilling, but it's action:
5:48 pm: My three live pick-4 horses are the only live pick-6 horses: D'Wildcard ($696 pick-4, $13k pick-6); Bold Vindication ($903 pick-4, $26k pick-6), and Hint ($1235 pick-4, $52k pick-6). Anyone else wins and there's a $52k carryover into tomorrow.
6:15 pm: Noooobody picked 6 and I didn't pick 4 after 32-1 Masterofthehouse, 1-for-28 lifetime, stretched out from three losing turf-sprint efforts under a perfect rail ride from Sebastian Morales to upset the applecart in the finale.
I Happen to love turf sprints. The fields are full, prices juicy and I've been successful picking them. It took me awhile to figure them out, but it's certainly been worth it.
To all the naysayers -- and correct me if I am wrong -- but I think the Pick 6 carryover was the highest of the three 1-days we have had this meet so it seems people saw Wednesday's card as bettable.
Let us please stop whining/arguing/discussing the quality of the SAR cards. Dave is right-if ya don't like the card then don't play it. To me, it's like comnplaining that your date is unattractive, has nothing to say, picks her nose etc...STOP DATING HER! There are others chicks, man. Look, what I need right are some winners, doggone it! Lay em on me ya'll. I will never give out another horse the rest of the meet after that Beboblues disaster yesterday. Sorry, no more automatic tosses for ya'll... bleeding badly.
To: Andy Scoggin-- condolences on missing the Pick 5 at Monmouth by a photo. I checked out the results, though, and the chart says that "Hello Andrew" won by a full length. The P5 paid a whopping $48,700 and I'd guess you would have been in a great position to hedge against some incredible will-pays on your three A's as they had higher odds than the winner. Was I looking at the wrong race---Monmouth Pick 5 on August 12????
Monmouth may not be Saratoga, but a "mausoleum" it is not. Until Del Mar opens Monmouth routinely has the highest daily racetrack attendance in the United States.
Only 11 days until the Washington County Fair!
You can't expect stakes races with full fields every race. I have been very pleased with the NYRA cards thus far and, to be honest, I have no problem with low level caliming races or (gasp) maiden claiming races with full fields. For me, when my horse runs a big one, whether it be in a maiden $35K or a Grade I, I still get the chills...
don reed, Here is a horse to watch at MTH. May not win this time (race 7, Friday), but he will at a big price)--Chips Are Down. Seriously, try the $.50 pick 5, it is low budget, fun, good pay outs. I have hit it 3 times this summer. Good Luck!
ryan: Don't know how anyone could look at the chart of Wednesday's 2 mile affair and disagree with a single point you made in your comment. The racing office trots these out once in a blue moon and they are almost always ill conceived. callmetony: I feel your take on overall card quality is, unfortunately, accurate. Seems the racing office is having problems sustaining the excellent first weeks offerings. Hopefully they can rebound, although much like Steve's Chinese food venture, I'm not optimistic. I think it's important to keep in mind that Saratoga is thought of as "world class racing." Outside of the tremendous stakes program that is not what we are being offered, and this is nothing new. With the horse population what it is that would be setting an impossible task for any racing secretary. That said, the proliferation of NYSB and turf sprint races in recent years is an unfortunate symptom of a declining horse pool. There were 36 5 1/2F turf sprints run at Saratoga in 2008, on the 22 days of the meet that allowed turf racing. There were 95 races run at that meet restricted to NYSB's. When you combine these numbers with the increasing use of maiden claimers (open company and NYSB), which for years were verboten at Saratoga, and the new favorite crutch, the dreaded attenuated claimer with a non-winner lifetime clause you are left with a deteriorating quality situation. I believe that conclusion to be unassailable. The $64k question is where will we be in 10 years if there is not a game plan to right this downward trend? Will it be overnight races with full fields of 12 members of the thoroughbred species, sired in a restricted geographical area who have never been within 25 lengths of the lead in their lives? If so, and someone is so bold as to doubt the current product rest assured there will be those who will call them "whiners." I hope the racing office can rebound going forward. I'm as big a NYRA supporter as there is, and my reverence for Saratoga is second to none. I weigh in here with compliments whenever I can, but there is no way to get around the decline in horse quality over the last several years. I wish there were. I have no intention of banging the keyboard every time a race card doesn't measure up to what I'd like. I also respect the view point of those commenters who see things differently than I do. I also acknowledge that the Saratoga meet is the finest meet in the country. However, I unfortunately recall when it was ever better. Those days may be gone forever, but an occasional exchange of opinions regarding card quality and the future of this great game at the Spa should be within the temper tolerance of all here, IMHO.
aandy_scoggin: I feel your pain about the Monmouth pick 5. I also needed Bravo on the 10.......Selen's Delight. That would have gotten me home with 4 A's and 1 B. What's worse is that I used the winner, the 4..... Unbridled Essence as a C, and then lost because I demoted Sqeakums to a B, as he was cheap and didn't look as good as the 2. I'm sick over it. Everytime I need Bravo he loses, and then when I don't bet him he beats me. In the last race I used 7 horses under the 1 and 6 in exactas and supers, and had the 4 in 3rd position only. I'm sure you remember the 4 flying from nowhere to run second. I know everyone in this game hates complainers. Whining is not a good virtue. However, I could really use a support group to deal with these painful loses because these experiences are taking away my desire to continue playing. I know they have AA and GA. How about LA (losers anonymous)? LOL. If anyone has some thoughts about this common problem please share them with me. I get up every day with the will to win and I go out there and try. I am not a quitter and I love the game but I can not take these excrutiating results, which for me are about serious money. My mind is filled with woulda coulda shoulda thoughts. At some point you have to think that this is ridiculous and just have to decide that the mental anguish is simply not worth it. It's just not fun anymore. I don't know what to do. Anyone have any suggestions?