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.

buffalo joe More than 1 year ago
Steve, It appears the players got smarter as the day wore on at the SPA. No overlayes in late P-4 or P-6. I think some real famous once said "If life deals you lemons, you make lomonade" Looks like you made lemonade out that mdn filled card. Nice going! Tomas, 7-4 was paying btwn $22.00 & 24.00 as will pays showed $11.00 for $1.00 bet. Still a substancial loss.
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Bridled Path - only Maker-trained horse entered Thursday (07AUG). Maker/Leparoux won on Wednesday with Sacrifice Bunt. Interesting.
George315 More than 1 year ago
I truly DO NOT understand how anyone can not stand maiden races. I filter my day through them and look to only bet maiden races. I love all of you. You make my life happy and pockets full. I don't want to split hairs in a race where everyone's A races looks like this 99-99-99-98-101-98-97. That's the same as betting lotto. Maiden races are so much easier to handicap and many times have a sucker favorite who does not want to win and races beneath par. Card 10 a day and I will never go back to work. Wednesday was heaven.
AndyScoggin More than 1 year ago
Hey guys, If there are a lot maidens in the barns, they have to write the maiden races. There are many great resources out there to help with the handicapping. Dan Illman at DRFplus is great with the 2YOs. 2YOs are classic Saratoga!
bochals More than 1 year ago
That loud BEEP BEEP BEEP you heard in the 3rd yesterday was my credibility backing up worse than Streetprice. Note to self: do not post picks after a five minute handicapping session at 2am. Good Lord that was bad.... ya'll lay it on me-I deserve it for that pick....on this whole Euro thing----I have posted before that Tiznow woulda been SMOKED by Sakhee and 'Causeway if they ran at the Curragh or Ascot or Goodwood. But like a wise poster said: we don't need to go to Europe, the money is here and they must make the trek..... Steve, outside of P3 P4 and P6 how many races on a typical card do you play? I cannot find more than 3 or 4 opportunities on any given card (a discipline that has come from years of betting NO ADVANTAGE races).
dk More than 1 year ago
Believe Ken McPeek sent over Hard Buck for a go at a Grade 1 in England and think he ran second. Don't think that he would even be mentioned in a list of the better US turf horses over the last 10-15 years. Point is, when quality horses compete you never know what will happen. Maybe some of the US horses were craving soft ground all along but never got a chance to run on it over here. Only advantage for sending a turf horse from US to Europe is if he will be standing at stud over there and can make an impression with the Euro / Arab breeders. Otherwise what is the point? A win in the Breeders Cup Turf will look just as good on a horse's stud resume if standing in the US. Besides, who breeds to turf stallions in US anymore??? dk
callmetony More than 1 year ago
re: last race @ spa yesterday . i saw the head on ..... the middle horse the 4 got creamed !!! Someone should have come down . he has the right to his lane to come through .
stewart More than 1 year ago
As one who needed the #4 to finish 2nd in the Spa 9th race to hit the Superfecta, I would have liked to have seen the #6 come down. However, there were no grounds for a DQ, as the #4 tried to come through an opening that wasn't there and caused the bumping. Good non-call by the stewards.
ElAngelo More than 1 year ago
I have to think that Lure would have been competitive in almost any one-mile race in Europe during his prime.
Tinky More than 1 year ago
Van Savant – ""Black Type" can be "earned" (on turf) in the U.S. more easily than in Europe, so why should they bother?" Yes, and the purse monies are much greater here as well. But whatever the reasons chosen by American owners, they are making the right decisions given how unlikely it is that their horses would meet with success in Europe. Owen Pennant Jones – Setting aside the very serious question of whether or not FSAS was racing on hay, oats and water, the Guineas that he won was quite sub-standard. The second-place finisher, Star of Gdansk, never even placed in another Group I race, and the hot favorite Lycius, which finished third, ran well below his best. Anyone who follows European racing at all closely knows that their top horses are – again, with very few exceptions – clearly superior to ours. How else would you explain why their second and third-tier runners regularly come over here and win our top races? Travers – "How could English Channel not have the slightest chance of winning a major race in Europe? He won the 2007 BC Turf on a soft going against the European champion Dylan Thomas." Sorry, but that's a ridiculous point. Dylan Thomas shipped thousands of miles, was known to be badly disadvantaged by soft ground, and was running back in 20 days after having given his all in the Arc! English Channel, while admirable for his consistency, would never have had a chance to place in a race like the Arc, let alone win it.