08/07/2008 2:11PM

Day 14: 8/7/08



2:00 pm: The game will keep you humble, at least for an occasional half-hour, and I really should be fitted with a dunce cap after my analysis of Thursday's 2nd at the Spa.

I though Digger was going to be a heavy favorite after seeing a couple of prominent newspaper handicappers make him their Best Bet of the Day, and I was completely against him. He was coming off a phony-fig victory against an inferior four-horse field, was changing barns off a troubling drop and wasn't getting the lead against superior sprinters today. I delivered a long tirade against him at Siro's, and was salivating at the prospect of getting a 6-5 shot out of the exacta.

Long story short: Digger not only won laughing, sitting third behind a speed duel and inhaling the tiring leaders late, but he paid $9.20 as the fourth choice in a field of six.


At least I didn't get involved in the early double since the opener was a steeplechase, and not just any steeplechase but the A P Smithwick Memorial. The 2-1 favorite was 7-year-old Salford City, an Irish-based jumper who in a previous career was fifth behind Shakespeare and English Channel in the 2005 Turf Classic. He led until the final fence, when the 8-year-old Theatrical gelding High Action -- fourth to Yeats in the 2006 Ascot Gold Cup -- ran him down from the inside. Dark Equation, who won an off-the-grass race here in 2004, was up for second, completing an uncoupled 1-2 finish by runners trained by P. Douglas Fout, as Salford City faded to third.

3:00 pm: It is suddenly raining cats, dogs, parakeets and hamsters here. Proceed with caution.

3:05 pm: Get out your scratch pencils: The remainder of today's grass races have been taken off the turf after an intense thunderstorm just soaked the track. Four of the day's last five races had been scheduled for the turf. The announcement was made eight minutes before the scheduled start of the pick-6. Hope you didn't bet it early. And in the time it has taken me to type the last three sentences, the rain has stopped, though there's still thunder rumbling.

5:30 pm: Naturally, it didn't rain an additional drop after the announcement that the rest of the day's grass races were being moved to the sloppy main track, but at the time the National Weather Service was issuing storm warnings. So management thought it was doing the right thing by making a snap decision before the pick-six started, but plenty of simulcast players had probably put in their tickets already and are understandably fuming. Had NYRA made the decision after the pick-six closed, the surface-switched races would have become "all"s for the pick-6, and four of the pick-six races were originally scheduled for the grass. Would have been an interesting 3-all-8-all-all-all payoff. I'm guessing we're looking at a carryover given that the "3" was $39.00 Selva, a David Carroll firster in the 5th, and that the "8" was 10-1 Will Never Bend.

And of course anyone who played the pick-six probably singled I Lost My Choo in the upcoming NY Stallion Stakes, where she was legitimately 1-10 against five completely overmatched NY-sired opponents. If you singled her, you're about to get switched to either Study Abroad or Western Slang, depending on which one goes off the post-time favorite.

Imagine if there had been a huge carryover into today and the announcement had been made eight minutes before the first leg. A lot more people would be screaming a lot more loudly than already are. I'm just thinking out loud but: The situation today makes me wonder if the rule shouldn't be changed so that if there are surface switches announced within 30 minutes of the start of a pick-six -- rather than after the close of betting -- the affected races should become "alls," and if there are more than two such races in the sequence, the bet should simply be cancelled for the day and all money refunded. Would that work?

5:35 pm: If you singled I Lost My Choo, you got Study Abroad, bet late to 6-5, and you got nothing: The favorite could do no better than run second all the way around the track to 6-1 Raffie's Treasure, second longest price in a field of five. Raffie's Treasure (Raffie's Majesty-Treasure Always) is a Majesty Stud homebred and a half-sister to Dr. V's Magic and Organizer, the last two winners of the Empire Classic, the biggest race on New York Showcase Day.

Stakes races for the best New York-breds are generally entertaining affairs with full fields, but these New York Stallion Stakes races, dirt or turf, are an embarassment and not just of riches. Their purses are wildly inflated -- $150,000 for yesterday's and today's editions -- while much better New York-breds routinely race for less in stakes races not restricted to the offspring of state stallions. The races are not helping to attract better stallions to the state, and would attract exactly the same fields if run for $50k or at Finger Lakes.

6:15 pm: There will be $39,692.55 awaiting pick-6 players tomorrow, a paltry carryover for Saratoga suggesting that at least some people were able to cancel their tickets after the storm. Nobody picked six or five, and there were only three 4-of-6 combos sold, worth $4410 apiece. (Top prizes would have gone to 3-of-6 with three of the eight starters in the finale.) Maybe it was a ticket that singled Silver Timber, who looked like a layover when the 10th was on grass: You didn't get switched off him to a sixth straight losing post-time favorite but instead inherited his main-track-only entrymate, Mor Chances, an $8.10 winner.

The Saturday card here was supposed to be "headlined" by the Yaddo for statebred grass fillies, but it only drew five entries as of this morning and they'll try again for Sunday with the possible addition of I Lost My Choo. So instead there will be four hundred-granders as co-features on Saturday: the James Marvin for older sprinters, the Solomon Northup for statebred dirt routers, the Madame Jumel for 3-year-old turf fillies and the Duke of Magenta, a possible Woodward prep that drew Magna Graduate, Fairbanks, Angliana and four others.

Life was so much simpler when a Saratoga Saturday was always either Whitney Day, Alabama Day, Travers Day or Hopeful Day, rather than Marvin-Northup-Jumel-Magenta Day. Or should we take the first two letters of each and declare it Manojuma Day?

Travers More than 1 year ago
p4crusher, Blurred Image was the horse that the bartender liked in the first race in the movie Let it Ride. And I am not as sure on this one...but I think Faith Healer is the horse that Trotter gets the tip on from the crooked owner/trainer in Let it Ride. I believe it makes for his second winner on the day
p4crusher More than 1 year ago
Trivia to all---- Blurred Image ran Friday, 8/8 (DMR R3)out of a mare named Faith Healer. Let's see who knows the relevance of this naming first. (Hint- Don Reed is a tepid favorite in Vegas to answer correctly first.)
PP More than 1 year ago
David Duggan has a horse in Friday's 4th named Indian Delight, a granddaughter of Indian Charlie. Does anyone know the stats on Indian Charlie as a broodmare sire? Duggan doesn't send many over, but has a high-win percentage at the meet. This one moved up big-time on the grass last out, and looks to fit the closer/stalker type that'll take advantage of the abundance of speed in this race. But what were they doing with breeding to offspring of Indian Charlies so early? Figure get the soundness issues bred out with more sturdy stallions like Devil His Due?
ElAngelo More than 1 year ago
Steve: the biggest problem I see with your proposal is that it'll prevent tracks from putting 3+ grass races in a Pick Six sequence, because of the danger that they'll be rained off and the bet would be cancelled. Some would argue this is a good thing because it would take out execrable turf sprints, but since turf fields are generally larger than dirt fields, my instinct is that tracks like having them in the Pick Six. (That said, I thoroughly agree that it's crazy to have every race in the sequence be a skull-buster, there's a lot to be gained by having smaller players cash a P6 for $1200 once in a while.)
haelaih More than 1 year ago
Everyone in this game has an agenda, but I for one appreciate Steve Crist for standing up and apologizing for his strong dismissal of Thursday’s second race winner. I first went to Siro’s seminar in the 90’s, so I know enough to listen and gain insights into how the race “might” be run. That is what it is good for. Then it is up to the player to decide how he will wager. And a word of caution on bragging in public on your winnings: We had a local guy a few years back that had 5 winners on Sunday and went public in the media on Monday morning. And he did it from the workplace. Well the cops can view and listen and it ended up the guy had warrants. They picked him up in the afternoon and he did 6 months. So a word to the wise…not that I believe 10% of what is typed past-post.
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Friday - Earle's First Girl. Only Asmussen horse today. Interesting.
Pete More than 1 year ago
C, Definitely don't want to take anything away from your points there. I'm in the same boat - I'm 25, but I only differ from the stereotypical 70 year old, cigar chomping, cabbie hat-wearing race fan in age. My father took us to the local harness track, Batavia Downs, when I was little, then Finger Lakes a little bit after that, and I would hear stories about how both grandstands were packed 40 years ago. Of course I would just pick out a number I liked or colors I liked, etc. Probably no more interested in the actual racing than the current group of children in the backyard at Saratoga, for example. But the exposure to the game, the appreciation of its aura - that's what paved the way for me to love its subtleties, respect its traditions and become a handicapping enthusiast at an older age. I guess the point is - how does the game market itself and where does the future fan base come from? Maybe those children in the backyard now are being opened up to the sport like I was, and will eventually follow the same path I did. How else are we exposing new people to the sport? In the past couple years, I'd say a poll of the general public asking them to name three racehorses would most likely reveal Barbaro, Eight Belles and Big Brown. Two of those horses were euthanized, and it's hard to get past the smug, cocky attitude of Big Brown's sketchy connections to actually root for him. This is not making it easy to build interest in the sport. We're all here because we love horse racing, and I understand the point about attendance up/handle down, and speculation that we're not building future fans, but just another bunch of future twenty-somethings who are excited about puking on Caroline St. or the Pimlico infield someday. I guess I just keep coming back to the fact that we have to start somewhere in spreading interest if the sport is going to make progress. I can't wait to bring a family to Saratoga someday to pass my passion on to the next generation. State of the game being what it is right now, I just don't think we should be looking for reasons to go out of our way to bash Saratoga.
Matt Harper More than 1 year ago
Let It Ride...The GREATEST movie of ALL time!!!
Angus Buck More than 1 year ago
callmetony said, " Man I'm starting to wonder !!! David Carrol? cmon." ...The trainer/jockey stats were favorable, the breeding good and the trainer gave the horse out last week on TV.
chisox More than 1 year ago
I was going to leave for Cape Cod either Saturday or Sunday. It looks like it will be Saturday now, I'll just have to miss Manojuma Day.