08/14/2009 1:52PM

Day 15: 8/14/09


1:45 pm: A very late start on the races after a typically long but typically satisfying Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Nice little $202 early double combining 26-1 Eltish Star in the opener with 7-5 East Breaks in the 2nd.

I'll get involved much later if at all. In the meantime, enjoy the lifetime past performances below for the Hall's newest contemporary-racehorse inductees, Silverbulletday and Tiznow:

Download Silverbulletday

Download Tiznow


10:45 pm: Don't have much to say about today's races, as I watched them in two-minute workbreaks on the Capitol OTB channel from the house. I was surprised to see they're still doing this silly thing of not showing the Saratoga races live but waiting until the horses cross the finish line to show a taped instant-replay. This longstanding remnant of NYRA/OTB hostilities seems particularly ridiculous in an era where people are watching live broadcasts of those same races if they have TVG, HRTV or an online ADW with video streaming.

Courageous Cat's victory in the G2 Hall of Fame Stakes showed that he's an improving 3-year-old and also how very hard and fast the turf has gotten up here during a dry week: The time for nine furlongs on the Mellon course was 1:45.90, but before you go backing Courageous Cat in the BC Turf future book, note that only five lengths separated the first eight finishers. Also note that the first three finishers came out of minor July races at Belmont, finishing in front of the 3-year-olds who had been mixing it up in overrated graded stakes such as the Virginia Derby and Colonial Turf Cup.

Three of the nine horses in the finale one race later were covered in the pick-6 but 24-1 Suffolk Downs shipper Ready's Clyde wasn't one of them, so there's a $53,784 carryover for the third Saturday of the meet. Tomorrow's card ends with five grass races including the G1 Sword Dancer, so it's one dirt sprint and five grass races in the pick-6 and an all-turf $500k-guaranteed late pick-4.

I'm just starting the work, but first let's catch up on a restaurant review from last night, My party of five was all set for the annual pilgrimmage to the picnic tables at PJ's BAR-B-Q, home of exceptional pit-cooked chicken and ribs, when a reliable source from a major metropolitan newspaper suggested we instead try Everglades Barbecue & Seafood (no website, 827 Saratoga Road). He assured us that a 400-pound guy he knows eats there every night of the meeting, so it had to be good. We also were told that the Everglades had fried clams in addition to the usual barbecue stuff. 

The Everglades is about 10 minutes from the track, north on Route 9 in the direction of The Wishing Well and Sergio's. It's an unassuming roadhouse with two dining rooms: booths in the front and nine big picnic tables on a screened porch out back. The latter is an advantage over PJ's and its all-outdoor picnic area that can get a little buggy. Also, PJ's does not serve Fried Gator, which those in our party who don't mind eating reptiles said was pretty good. After that and some heavily-breaded but very coconutty coconut shrimp, we moved on to four different types of ribs -- plain, baby backs, country-style boneless and Jamaican jerk-rubbed -- and all were tasty and above average. Especially the Jamaican ones, which went very well with Red Stripe beer. The vaunted fried clams, however, turned out to be "fried clam strips," which were clam-like in the same way turkey roll is turkey-like.

Each order came with two sides so we got 10 of them, and the consensus was thumbs-up on the corn-on-the-cob and baked beans, less so on the cole slaw and mac-and-cheese. Don't bother with dessert: both key-lime and chocolate-cream pie triggered nearly unanimous childhood memories of My-T-Fine Pudding. Service was prompt, friendly and attentive and the $150 bill for five for a soup-to-nuts (gator-to-pudding?) meal, including 10 to 15 beers, seemed very reasonable. It was just fine -- but by a 5-0 vote, we decided it just wasn't as succulent as PJ's. Still, it's a reliable second choice and deserves a solid grade of B.

Time to crack open the Saturday DRF. "Talking Horses" begins in the Carousel in 13 hours at 11:45 a.m.

yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Yes, Steve, I think I saw the first signs of the turf getting a little spotty on the clubhouse turn today. Not that I'm doing a rain dance. I often wonder how effective the sprinklers are in duplicating real rainfall? Some of us have kicked around thoughts on race quality, but I have to say there are a few in Saturday's first race, the $16k claimer, who will get a tip of my hat when they parade by. There are some good old soldiers in there. Many thanks for the Harvey Pack/Dan Illman video setup on the Saturday P4. It was great to see him again. They went 4x4x5x1, standing alone with the Tagg firster in the last. We shall see. Best of luck to all tomorrow - wheelbarrow the cash out of there!
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Steve, if they ever build a track in Memphis (I am not counting the West Memphis Dog Track/OTB, which is in Eastern Arkansas, actually. Just cross the lazy Mississippi) you can get yourself the best BBQ in the world. Rendezvous is the place. Memphis dry rub is the style. Never been a fan of the saucy 9 napkin rib rack. Dining shouldn't be labor intensive, although sweating is okay....would love to have seen a Tiznow Silver Charm fantasy race. Two guys who would NOT LET YOU BY in the lane. Still think Charms' Dubai World Cup win was the gutsy thing I've ever seen. Three or four took turns running at him in that LONG stretch at NAS but all were turned away; or as the DRF chart read,"..repelled all challenges."
Matt More than 1 year ago
Steve, While we're on the subject of live vs. instant replays, why did NYRA do away with the 'live audio' feature on its website? This was particularly useful for those of us who bet SAR or BEL but refuse to pay outrageous cable fees to access TVG (or live in a jurisdiction that doesn't allow online accounts). Presently, NYRA loses this handle.
mailman More than 1 year ago
Steve - Good thing you didnt go to PJs, there was a fatal accident on RT9 there earlier in the day. Road and place was closed. Go there today. PJs is the best
Raps7 More than 1 year ago
Good to see you back in Nathan, good luck. Turf course seems to be rock hard and getting tricky. I had a chance to talk to connections of Fatal Bullet from last Sunday's sprint. The horse broke slow, could not grab the track and the jockey eased up when he realized no chance of the horse doing any running on the dirt. This makes racing so tough as the horse had " never been better " going into the race. Synthetic surfaces are ruining racing and making it so tough for the handicapper. Fabulous Strike is an amazing horse, but what chance BC bound. It would be interesting Steve to oneday see followup articles on if horses are staying healthier on synthetic and horse people still feel it's better.
merlift More than 1 year ago
Somebody remembered Port Conway Lane. 50 wins I believe.
Toones More than 1 year ago
One of our wonderful experiences at Saratoga was being accidentally introduced to a cabdriver named Ed Rasowsky (he picked my family up at Albany airport and later drove us around). When we arrived, we told him how hungry we were. We had connected a flight from Baltimore from Norfolk and we did not have a chance to eat at the airport. Ed insisted we try PJs Barbeque and drove us right by it. We were so tired and wanted to get to the hotel so bad, we passed. Later, we ate ribs on Broadway which were excellent but did not eat PJ's. Next time we go to the Spa, we are stopping at PJs. I do not want to miss a good spot at Saratoga.
Greg B More than 1 year ago
Steven, I can understand trying to hit a longshot, but PJ's ribs are a mortal lock - the absolute best. I can't go the track without stopping there first. And don't get fancy with some sort of A-B-C play. Full rack, a la carte.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Steve, how can you knock My-T-Fine? It has stood the test of time, and is still the best packaged pudding out there.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
"Although this is [a] parimutuel game, I still like to think that, in a way, we are all in this together." How true. My past picks have been making the actual winning parimutual players - wagering in the same races - on the whole, very, very happy.