08/15/2009 2:00PM

Day 16: 8/15/09


2:05 pm: We might have just seen one of those future-star Saratoga maiden races as four first-time starters made promising debuts in the 2nd race.

The winner was Liston, a Darley/McLaughlin Storm Cat colt and half-brother to Country Star, who led most of the way to win in 1:10.49. It's early, but the time looks good considering that solid $16k older claimers who had been running in the 85-90 Beyer range needed 1:23.26 to negotiate 7f in the opener.

The runner-up was Chief Counsel, a WinStar/Mott Officer colt who was pounded to 8-5 favoritism and had to hesitate when trapped inside on the turn before getting out. Running third was Brother Bird, a Dogwood/Pletcher half-brother to Mine That Bird by Yonaguska. Even fourth-place finisher World Record, a Phipps/McGaughey Awesome Again-Finder's Fee, wasn't bad despite a slow getaway in a race probably below his best distance.

It's a scorcher here today for the third Saturday of the meeting, a little bit of a letdown Saturday in comparison to the next three (Alabama, Travers, Woodward.) It's better than last year, when a quartet of ungraded stakes had to carry the day, and while it's good to see the Sword Dancer rescheduled here, the race suffers from being run just a week after the Arlington Million. Having said that, there are some nice storylines: Grand Couturier going for a third straight Sword Dancer; Better Talk Now, the 2004 winner, trying again at the age of 10; and the American debut of the good French stayer Americain.


Haven't decided how involved to get in the pick-6 with $53k carryover, which starts with the 6th race, but I'm already a winner for the day. Just as I finished "Talking Horses," my eyes blurred with perspiration from being roasted under broiling stagelights on an already broiling day, I made out the figure of a man walking towards the stage, clutching what looked like an armful of golden treasure. And it was indeed the unholy grail os snackfoods: Two pristine bags of authentic Wise brand Cheese Waffies. Thank you, faithful reader.

Was feeling okay about today's seminar picks after giving out the unimaginative $23.80 early double, then watched a pair of heavily-favored 3-year-olds I'd picked run fourth in both the 3rd and 4th. First it was 3-5 Hot Minute, a 4 3/4-length winner of his debut with a 94 Beyer over another firster who returned to win by 9. Today, however, Hot Minute was done after a hot 44.98 half, and backed up through the stretch. Half an hour later, even-money McGaughey third-timer Strong Commitment failed to run back to his debut for the second straight time. Even if he had, not sure he would have beaten runaway winner Sean Avery, making his first start since running third to Munnings in his debut here a year ago. Sean Avery, a 3-year-old Cherokee Run gelding now trained by Mike Hushion, went right to the front and increased his advantage throughout six furlongs in 1:09.47.

4:10 pm: Double-carryover! Well, not officially after just one leg, but Heavenly Blaze at $51.50 was a promising start for such a prospect. I laid off and played just a tiny caveman that went to the same early grave that a 10-times-as-expensive investment would have. On to that $500k guaranteed late pick-4.

4:20 pm: Double-carryover!!! Okay, still not officially, but how many tickets began with Heavenly Blaze at $51.50 and now Prince Dubai at $57.50?

4:53 pm: The sixth-race exacta sure came back light: 24-1 Heavenly Blaze over 10-1 Star of new York paid only $258. Before you call in the Feds, it may have been a case of what Harvey pack used to call "coupled horses": The two of them came out of the same race, finishing a nose apart in the same order while running a distant 2nd and 3rd to Al's Deputy here Aug. 2.

Pick-4 got off to a nice start for me as D. Wayne/Marylou dropdown Ninth Client just held on at 7-1. The spready play:


5:10 pm: Looking ahead to tomorrow's almost certain $209k (plus yesterday's $53k) double-carry:It's another one-on-the-dirt followed by five-on-the-grass sequence, on races 6 through 11.


6:15 pm: That was the weirdest Sword Dancer you'll ever see. For some reason, the riders of Lauro (Chavez), Americain (Velazquez), Quijano (Starke) and Musketier (Jones) all thought they could steal the race on the front end, even after it became clear that all of them had the same idea. After setting ridiculous fractions of 23.48 and 46.80 for a 12-furlong race, they and the race fell apart in the stretch, Grand Couturier didn't feel like running, and the four longest shots in the field (33-1/11-1/14-1/26-1) ran 1-2-3-4 for a $79k superfecta.

Telling, a 5-year-old A.P. Indy horse who had lost 10 straight races and never won above the allowance level, became a Grade 1 stakes-winner by two lengths over a couple of gallant old veterans, Better Talk Now and Brass Hat. He paid $68 after completing the mile and a half in 2:25.43 under Javier Castellano.

Obviously no one's alive for 6 or even 5 in the pick-6. The payoffs are for either 3 or 4 out of 6 depending on who wins the nightcap. The pick-4's are paying from $19k to $240k.

Only Rising Moon's eighth-place finish kept me from hitting the Super Low Five: my five live pick-4 horses ran 5-6-7-9-10.

6:30 pm: Cops Fever won the finale at $8.40 to complete a $64,196 late pick-4 and a 4-of-6 consolation payoff of $6,973. Tomorrow's carryover: $262,998.


Hitman the OLD DRC More than 1 year ago
Where the hell was forget about Gill, here is the news forget about her. The WO bine shipper looked and raced the best. That grey looked good even though rank in the parade. The rest looked like they did not even show up for 600K.Got out at toga in the last race on our last day monday of opening week. Crushed the late double (940) paid for the entire week and then some. Same crew for my 25th straight year. Friends have been going 35 straight years (opening week). Bigger crowds than normal, way to crowded around the paddock with people laying all over. People not even dressed up in the paddock and racing programs and forms in the paddock all over the place. Also many sore and stiff legged horses as witnessed by me that had absolutly no chance to win and should have been scratched. Also the [law-enforcement official] who gave me a ticket on the way to the track (from Lake luzurne) opening day did me a favor he pissed me off so bad that I had to take all of the money on the last day in the last race. TOGA no other place like it in the world.
David Scheff More than 1 year ago
..Horrific non call the Stewards didn't make in the 9th when the 9 was held at third spot when he clearly was bumped out of contention for 2nd and or 1st place. The Stewards at Saratoga are notoriously liberal to any discrepancy the jockeys take or whichever tiring horses fall into and impede the progress of the rightfully handicapped better bets. I personally was robbed out of an exacta, and though it is not the end of the world, when handles are down and you’re having group discussions to figure out why, how about some honesty from the Stewarts at Saratoga so betters can bet honestly and get the right results. That non call was atrocious.
Nick Briglia More than 1 year ago
The Sword Dancer should be moved to Grade 2 status next year...
hammer More than 1 year ago
local chicago handicapper Joe Kristufek tabbed Telling as a live shot in the Sword Dancer
david More than 1 year ago
for all you people who complain about quality at saratoga, by far the highest quality race on saturday produced the most illogical result. i'll say it again - hoses are horses. the same principles that apply to grade 1 turf races apply to 7500 claimers at aqu in feb.quality does not equate to logical outcomes. monmouth big price,illogical outcome - stake race. saratoga big price, illogical outcome- stakes race.saratoga race 2-all first starters. how impossible-- two favorites.don't be intimidated by chaos--embrace it and use it to your advantage
Bill M More than 1 year ago
Steve, What do you think of Kutais (6-1 ML) chances in the West Point today? After watching the replay of his last race, he lacked room and it seemed like Prado didn't get into him very aggressively, maybe he figured they weren't going to run down the winner anyway? I think this colt may still have some upside for improvement but I'd need every bit of the morning line to play him.
beyou More than 1 year ago
David_Scheff: I don't know if I agree with you. If you watch the head on, it looked to be a definite DQ. But when you view the pan, Lease of Life didn't come that close to Hotstufanthensome. I think Dominguez may have over-reacted just a bit. I think that may have cost you the exacta, more than the perceived interference.
hud More than 1 year ago
Steve Would like to hear your take on the recent report by NY State Comptroller DiNapoli on NY City OTB being broke with an operating deficit of 38 million and an overall debt of 228 million...i seem to remember Mayor Blumberg and a previous report fudging the real truth by not counting breakage revenue, etc and turning a yearly profit into a loss...what i fear coming down the road is the typical political 'solution' of increased takeout which will hurt handle and have a net negative effect...anyway, hoping you comment on this latest report, if so, maybe after the Saratoga meet so as not to ruin the mood for the 6 most glorious weeks of the year!
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
walt: Your slipping buddy! You surprised me by not calling for light installation at the Spa in order to tap the Asian market! Just kidding of course. Steve and anyone else, What are they printing these programs on? I like the pocket programs - but they disintegrate right under your arm. Seen 300 year old manuscripts on the Antiques Road Show in better shape than the one I brought home today.
KY Crusader 75 More than 1 year ago
To:Fashion Slipper---The winner in question at 107-1 was Two Notch Road who had raced 3 times on dirt at Monmouth finishing 6th by 7 (27 Beyer), 6th by 13 (27 Beyer), 7th by 28 (21 Beyer). Every other entrant in the race had much higher Beyer figures with 6 of the runners having Beyered over 60. The trainer was Glenn Thompson 2 for 47 for the year.