08/11/2010 12:33PM

Day 17: 8/11/10


Saratoga is the last major six-day-a-week meeting in American racing. Del Mar has dropped back from 6 to 5, Churchill Downs and Hollywood were down to 4 the last two summers, Monmouth is experimenting this year with just 3. Should Saratoga, now up to 40 days of racing, perhaps go to eight 5-day racing weeks instead of 6 2/3 6-day weeks?

I've had more than a dozen people make that suggestion, and there's some appeal to it, especially for horsemen, track employees, and hardcore fans who want to get involved with every card and find the current schedule wearying. But it's not a slamdunk. There are housing and rental issues in stretching the meet out over eight weeks, negative financial implications for a currently cash-strapped NYRA, and the question of whether fans who plan vacations around Saratoga visits really want two days a week with no racing. Some horsemen's officials also think it would leave too much money on the table, effectively eliminating six full days of race purses.

Anyone feel strongly about it one way or the other?

If there were a shift to a five-day week, the second dark day would probably be Wednesday rather than the downstate choice of Monday, so that visitors could get an extra day out of a three- or four-day weekend. A card like today's -- with only one open-company non-claiming race, and where 1-for-31 Flying Sappho just romped in the opener as a 7-5 favorite --  would be the casualty.

In any case, it's 88 and sultry here back on Long Island today, six degrees and 200 miles of separation from Saratoga, where it's reportedly fast, fim, clear and 82.  Made it downstate in four hours flat from grandstand (Saratoga) to grandstand (Belmont) yesterday, including one coffee stop and a 20-minute backup at the dreaded Whitestone Bridge. It's clearly been hot and dry downstate, judging from the scorched lawns and dead flowers.


1:48 pm: Is this 1990 or 2010? Strategic Move just paid $15.80 winning the second race despite having a last-out speed figure that was seven points faster than anyone's last race and six points better than anyone's career top. Obviously there's a lot more to handicapping than top figs, but you just don't see a payoff like that on a runaway top fig too often since the days when you had to make your own figures.  


3:30 pm: Lubash (by Freud) held off 3-2 favorite Seattle Mission (by Strategic Mission) to win the $100,000 Cab Calloway for the offspring of stallions standing in New York. 

According to the Jockey Club, there were 81 stallions in New York in 2009, which put it in a tie for 11th with West Virginia nationally, behind Kentucky (329), Louisiana (270), Texas (241), California (237), Florida (173), Oklahoma (169), New Mexico (160), Pennsylvania (123), Indiana (101) and Illinois (84).

Last year New York ranked 7th in number of mares bred with 1,599, behind Kentucky (18,920), Florida (4,136), Louisiana (3,457), California (3,122), Texas (1,746) and Pennsylvania (1,737). 


5:05 pm: Carryover! No live tickets into the finale after Tranquil Manner ($12.00) rallied from last n down even-money Birdrun and 2-1 Atomic Rain to win the 8th, a five-horse N3x 9f allowance race.  So tomorrow's $100k guaranteed pick-6 pool will probably be twice that.

The carryover ($41,246) may seem unlikely if you're just looking at win prices so far, but a couple of them were a lot tougher than the odds might suggest: College Grad ($11.80), while well bet in his debut, was beaten 31 lengths in his only start. Tranquil Manner (A. P. Indy-Composure) was a distant third choice in the betting and could have easily been 10-1 in the pick-6.

6:00 pm: EZ Passer, hammered from 6-1 ML to 2-1, cleared from the outside under Dominquez, set slow fractions, and scampered home an easy winner to complete a $2,531 pick-4. Tomorrow's pick-6 sequence begins at 3:15 ET with the 5th of Thursday's 10 races and consists of three dirt sprints, two turf routes and a turf-sprint finale. Five of the races have fields of 10 or more and ML favorites no lower than 3-1. GEt to work.