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Day 14: 8/7/10
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Happy Whitney Day. Fast, firm, sunny and pleasant at Saratoga for an 11-race card featuring the G1 Whitney and G1 Test.
In the opener, a N1x 3-and-up allowance, Whitney connections were on display as Brother Bird, a half-brother to Mine That Bird, ran down a Todd Pletcher-trained front-runner, Monsignor. Omen? Not as far-fetched an outcome as Mine That Bird running down Quality Road later on today, and hardly a setback for Pletcher since he trains both Brother Bird and Monsignor, who were uncoupled in the betting and were the 6-1 and 11-1 second and co-third choices. The disappointment of the race was Pistols at Dawn, a very impressive off-the-pace winner of his debut at Churchill Downs last month. Sent off at 1-2, Pistols at Dawn unexpectedly shot to the front this time, was engaged by Monsignor through a brutal half in 44.73, and Brother Bird came along to run by them both in 1:21.91. Looks like we've got a very fast track today.
If you're flipping through the channel guide looking for a major-network broadcast of the Whitney and/or Clement Hirsch, don't bother. After last Saturday's Haskell, there's no more racing on ESPN until Oct. 2. Good thinking: Why would you want to showcase Quality Road, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra or Lookin at Lucky on the road to your Breeders' Cup telecast?
2:15 pm: Ramon Dominguez just lost with his third straight odds-on favorite in three races today when Alan Garcia and Hear The Footsteps nailed him at the wire aboard 4-5 Dougie. Dominquez also rode 1-2 Pistols at Dawn in the opener (3rd) and 4-5 High Prize in the 2nd.
3:45 pm: Chaotic start to the pick-6 with a one-day $53k carryover. About five minutes to post for the first-leg baby race, Asmussen/Zayat firster Justin Phillip, 7/2 on board and favored in 5th/6th double and pick-3 willpays, ran off and was scratched. I had about two-thirds of my pick-6 tickets punched in at that point, scrambled to adjust the others, and am still not entirely sure where I stand.
If you used Justin Phillip, you scratched into the coupled Pletcher/Mott/WinStar entry of Gospel Lesson and Thiscatismine, which was bet down to 2-1 favoritism over higher 2-1 Chad Brown firster Tiz Blessed. But you only got half a chance because Thiscatismine reared at the start and dumped Velazquez (who's fine.)
Fortunately, my A's were the scratched Justin Phillip and...Tiz Blessed, who got up in the final jump to nip 13-1 Alexander second-timer Punster in a slow (1:17.96) race I doubt will yield the Hopeful winner.
Here's the matrix (I think):
4:40 pm: Going to watch the stakes races in the great outdoors. Back later for an accounting of where things inevitably went wrong.
5:00 pm: Pick-6 handle was $360k on top of the $53k carryover; pick-4 handle was $729k. Alive 3x1x3 at the halfway point (1,9,10/3/9,10,12) and it can't be terrible with Mystic ($12.60) and Sea Lord ($25.00) winning the last two.
5:30 pm: Never mind.
Didn't expect to see all three of my fillies in the Test part of a four-way chase for the lead, but can't complain since the fourth chaser, Champagne d'Oro, turned them all back and drew off in a more impressive effort than the final time of 1:22.71 -- just two-hundredths faster than the maiden colts in the 4th -- would suggest.
Champagne d'Oro has now won two Grade 1's this year (Acorn and Test), as have the division leaders Blind Luck (Las Virgenes, Kentucky Oaks) and Devil May Care (Mother Goose, CCA Oaks.)
6:15 pm: Quick take on the Whitney: Great horse race between two very nice horses. Quality Road was hounded throughout but the fractions were mild and Blame was very good to run him down. I'm not big on weight carried, but others will say that the five-pound swing (121 vs. 126) might have acounted for the winner's margin of a head.
In any case: Carryover! Blame knocked out the few remaining live tickets, so Sunday's Honorable Miss/Vanderbilt card will start with $253,084 in the pick-6 kitty. Those two stakes are the only dirt races in the sequence, which begins and ends with turf sprints for maidens. Oh goody.
Steve to all the naysayers and the people who want thoroughbred racing to go away THE GAME IS NOT DEAD YET. A great day at SARATOGA for the WHITNEY, the fans turned out in big numbers, 35,000 plus,and bet with two fists. A bunch of very betable races with very generous pay offs. A sporting event for a three dollar admission that you can bring in beer, wine and liquor plus food and no one stops you at the gate and tells you that this is not allowed,also you can park on the street for free not like the football and baseball games where the parking is 25 +. Have the players , jockeys and trainers, walk along side the fans, have a great day with friends and maybe go home with more money than you came with. JUST MAYBE THE THOROUGHBRED RACING GAME IS NOT DEAD YET. Joe
Steve, You and andy both said Quality road was the best older horse not Zenyatta.Do you still believe that statement today.Quality road set a slow pace and couldnt hold on,yes john velasquez gave him a terrible ride in the stretch.Zenyatta closed into very slow pace,made the lead earlier then usual and was pulling herself up and still won. Zenyatta is the better horse and will prove it in the breeders cup. (Don't put words in my mouth. Zenyatta is a defending champ, a Hall of Famer and may well be the "better horse." But in terms of accomplishments at this point in the season, G1 victories in unrestricted company in races like the Donn, Met Mile, Foster and Whitney by definition trump victories in races restricted to fillies. If you want to be considered the best horse in the country, you're supposed to run against the other best horses in the country. That was the only point I was trying to make. -SC)
24, 48 with no real pressure tells me that 1 1/16 plus is QR's max distance against better Grade 1 ers.
Angel Cordero had a habit of riding his horse and maybe a few others in a lot of races. On a front runner at the quarter pole, Angel's head would be on a swivel, looking behind, left and right, for the competition. Wayne Lucas, seeing a few too many of his horses getting caught with Angel aboard, took Angel to the woodshed and made it clear. He did not want to see Angel waiting on horses in the stretch. Just send the horse home. It may be time for Todd to take JV to the woodshed.
Psssst, Steve... Just how many turf-sprint firsters has Shug McGaughey saddled at Saratoga over the past four years?
If they would run Zenyatta against the boys all the time you would ruin her.rachel alexandra is the perfect example, she is clearly not the same horse as last year. Zenyatta beats whoever runs against her,its not her fault that the horses who run against her are not in the same league.
I had $930 daily double with Champagne D'Oro with Quality Road. The double probable was $21.40. So that bad ride cost me $10,000. What a tough day. I told everyone that the only two horses I liked were Snow Top Mountain and I loved Champagne D' Oro. I can'y believe I came up empty.
Steve and the rest of the bloggers... the same and tough beat for me as well. Alive all over the place with QR and then gone. The same thing happened in race 8 at Delmar. I had the #8 horse and get taken out by the #11. I was alive to Big Z and the 3,6,9 in the tenth (a couple of X's). Has anyone seen that photo yet? OUCH, OUCH, OUCH. We need to get the blog responses to "refresh" to the responses instead of refreshing to Steve's input. We read him enough to partially memorize what he says.
I took my cash from Sea Lord's win in the Hattie McDaniel Stakes and bought a Hattie's Fried Chicken Sandwich with a nod to Mr. Blog. At least I had a full stomach when I lost most of it back on the Test and the Whitney. No complaints though as it was a beautiful day and got to see some top class runners at the best track there is.
Sometimes we let this game get more complicated than it should be. Went to the track today to play Saratoga with three strong opinions, all involving P-6 races. In the 6th, thought the Brown firster was the horse to beat: 7th-same for Mott's Mystic; and finally, ditto for Linda Rice in the last race. In between, liked the 4,5 inthe 8th, 3,4 inthe 9th and 2,3 in the 10th. It just happened to be one of those days where I decided to concentrate on non multi-race bets, but at the start of the P-6, I contemplated my $16 strategy and quickly dismissed it based on, among other things, a wise old axiom learned from the Expo 2007 tapes to the effect that rather than playing that small a ticket, one would be better served just to burn their money(sorry Steve, but I had to inject a little levity to stop the tears!). Well, the rest is history and the point of this story is simple: strong opinions trump everything else.