08/06/2008 2:23PM

Day 13: 8/6/08


2:00 pm: Hard to get too interested or involved in today's maiden-laden card, but a man needs a little action after a dark day so I tried three early doubles -- Sacrifice Bunt in the opener with Coastal Flare, Tanganyika and Westward Go in the second. Call me a chalk-eating weasel for leaning on a 1-for-19 7-5 shot in the opener if you like, but I actually thought I was getting value on a horse who seemed at least 50 percent to win the race. Sacrifice Bunt had earned figures in 9 of his last 12 defeats that were better than anything his five ragtag opponents had ever posted and had finally found a field he couldn't help beating. Also, I'm finding that 3-year-olds are being overbet in these new 25000B claiming races, where 3-year-old multiple winners are facing N2L elders, and second choice Know the Game looked like a bad underlay at 2-1.

So far so good when Sacrifice Bunt easily inhaled the leaders and drew off by four. I had three of the only four plausible winners of the second and felt pretty good when the fourth, stretch-out turf sprinter Exchanging Kisses, blew the far turn on the lead and then ducked in, as if exhausted and about to be swallowed by my charging trio. All that was left to do was root for Tanganyika, the longest price among them. Tanganyika indeed nosed out the other two, but the photo was only for second: Somewhow, Exchanging Kisses wasn't done, Desormeaux straightened her out, and she won by two lengths.

I wasn't involved in the third, but those backing3-5 Quiet Mover were justifiably calculating their winnings as she turned for home with an eight-length lead and no one in serious pursuit. She was tiring but still looked safe as Vicarious began to close in, then Quiet Mover ducked in and, unlike Exchanging Kisses, lost all momentum and Vicarious nailed her at the finish.

Nothing on today's card to put one in mind of championship racing, so let's instead take a peek at the Timeform Global Rankings released today for the world's top horses. Curlin is rated the planet's best on a list where he and Big Brown are the only American-based horses in the top 20:

134-Curlin (based in USA)
133-Duke of Marmalade (Ireland)
132-Big Brown (USA)
132-Papal Bull (GB)
131-Henrythenavigator (Ireland)
131-New Approach (Ireland)
131-Sacred Kingdon (Hong Kong)
130-Raven's Pass (GB)
130-Soldier of Fortune (Ireland)
130-Tartan Bearer (GB)
130-Weekend Hussler (Australia)
130-Youmzain (GB)
129-Getaway (France)
129-Good Ba Ba (Hong Kong)

4:30 pm: The early pick-4 (which I did not play) consisted of horses who paid $8.90, $10.40, $4.20 and $7.80. What did it pay? (No peeking at the results above.)

a)Around the $2 parlay price of $379.
b)A little lower, since everyone was 4-1 or less.
c)A little higher, since you're spreading the takeout over four races.
d)Over $1,000.

If you guessed "d," you probably had it and were pleasantly surprised. The $1,029 payoff was well over double the parlay. Probable explanations: 1)Vicarious at $10.40 in leg 2 was probably higher in the pick-4 because Quiet Mover at 3-5 was heavily singled; and 2) Yes I'm Clever in leg 4 was surely better than $7.80 in the pick-4 because he was one of five first-time starters in an inscrutable field of nine.

The skein of six maiden races ended with the 7th, the one maiden-special for open 2-year-olds, and it featured Zensational, a $700k 2-year-old purchase who was widely reported to be the best 2-year-old amid the Zayat/Mott string that dominated the owner and trainer standings here last summer. Zensational went off the 2-1 favorite and was hit even harder in the multirace bets leading into the race: The $2 rolling double from Driven by Success ($4.40) in the 6th to Zensational was paying only $9 and change.

Zensational clearly has talent, and he bounded to the front through a quick first quarter in 21.85, but Asmussen firster Kensai was at his throat around the turn, put him away in upper stretch, and went on to beat Pletcher firster Speed Limit by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:10.78 as Zensational faded to fourth, beaten nearly eight.

The outcome drew Asmussen even with Pletcher in the trainer standings with seven victories apiece. Mott is now 1 for 22 at Saratoga '08, no more an indication of his training ability than Pletcher's disappointing Saratoga '07 was.

Kensei (Japanese for "sword saint"), a $300k May 2-year-old purchase, is a son of Mr. Greeley and the first foal of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling.

5:45 pm: Those familiar-looking silks in the winner's circled after the featured NY Stallion Stakes were the maroon and silver diamonds of Sackatoga Stable, better known for campaigning Funny Cide than Doc N Roll ($7.30), who held off Gold Vendetta while favored Cannonball could manage only third.

Half the turf sprinters in the finale are covered in the pick-six, so you better root for a 1,2,8,9 or 10 if you want a $63k carry into Thursday. I'm alive to the 3,4,5,7,10 in the pick-four, so let's go 10 for a cash and carry.