08/12/2010 2:28PM

Day 18: 8/12/10

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I focussed my limited getaway-day time on today's little pick-6 carryover races, but the first two races of Day 18 turned out to be pretty interesting from the parimutuel sidelines.

In the opener, the third steeplechase of the meet, owner William Pape and trainer Jonathan Sheppard were in the winer's circle for the third time....and at $14.40 for the hat trick with Lead Us Not. The winner ran a highly unusual race, leading early, allowing Riddle and Saluda Sam to pass him after the first mile and a half, then rallying in the stretch to run them down and score by three-quarters of a length over uncoupled stablemate Parkers Project for a $91 Sheppard-Sheppard exacta. (In last week's jump race, the Sheppard-Sheppard exacta paid $27.60.)

In the second, all the money steamed in on 6-5 Violette firster Inflation Hedge and 7-2 Mott firster Come a Callin but both 2-year-old fillies neglected to do much running. running 6th and 7th to set up some wild payoffs after 30-1 Nicks firster Valiant Passion ($63.00), 6-1 McLaughjlin firster Shaaraat, 48-1 Matz firster Bacata and 45-1 Terranova firster Mean Reversion crossed the wire in that order. The super paid $14,286.75 -- for a dime! -- a theoretical payoff of $285k for $2 but the pool was only $57, 927 ($42k after takeout) so only 30 cents worth of winning tickets were sold.

 

2:32 pm: They only just now announced the scratches of the remaining main-track-onlies in the 10th, so it looks like we're staying on the turf. 

 

3:00 pm: Here goes:

 

I was determined to keep the play to $1,000 or less and only missed by $8. It's a "single backup" play -- just one trip off the A line permitted -- by investment limit rather than by design. Every horse I have listed as a C began as a B, but I could whittle no more. Hey, I've heard you've gotta be in it to win it. At least I seem to have smoked out the two favorites in the opening leg.

I singled In Te Domine in the 8th on all tickets, not because I think she's the biggest cinch of the meeting but because there was nothing else resembling a single to me in the sequence and she does look pretty solid. No complaints about the card -- yeah, it's cheap, but the races are competitive and playable.

 

3:20 pm: Well, that was fun while it lasted, all 1:23.62 of it. The only question at around 1:20 of that was whether I'd start out with Star of New York as a 7-5 A or Harmonizer as a 5-1 B, because Durkin never saw 9-1 Heritage Hall coming ("With 50 yards to go it's Harmonizer and St---Oh, look at this!") until the wire and, watching on tv, neither did I. Heritage Hall, a 4-length winner for $10k maiden claiming at Churchill last time out (over a 0-for-9 maiden who returned to lose his next start at Delaware Park as the 3-to-10 favorite), paid $20.20 as the fifth choice in a field of seven.

 

5:00 pm: We probably need a big-time goofy result in teh last two to get a two-day carryover after In Te Domine ($3.00) won the NYSSSOLD (New York Stallion Stakes Statue of Liberty Division.) Don't be too eager to bet against ITD next time out off a seemingly slow and narrow victory over an undistinguished field: She had trouble early steadying behind a very slow pace, circled the field on the turn, mowed them down at will and Dominguez eased up before the wire.

 

5:45 pm: Seventeen live combos going into the finale to carve up $194k: four each to the 9 and 10, three each to the 2 and 4, two to the 1 and one to the 7. If the 5 or 8 wins, we'll be playing for a $194 carryover tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.

The 9th -- first time I can recall $10k claimers running in the next-to-last race of the day at Saratoga, once the place where stakes races were carded -- went to co-favored 2-for-21 Great Crusade, a $750k yearling three summers ago.

Eager to see whether Nassau OTB shows the finale, carded for 6:03 pm, three minutes after the programming usually switches suddenly to RAI Italian-language programming. Since I haven't heard a single complaints about it this summer, I'm guessing and hoping that's a thing of the past, but I've got that kicked-in-tv graphic at the ready just in case.

 

6:30 pm: No Nassau OTB cutoff, so I got the cheap thrill of watching uncovered Gentle Touch, a former Linda Rice trainee, lead to upper stretch. Then current Linda Rice trainee Precision Farming ($14.40) inhaled the field and won off under a hold to complete a $65,864 pick-6 payoff to three wise horseplayers.

Those thunderstorms they've been talking about appear just about to hit Long Island, so tonight's departure has been put off until early morning. You don't want 162 pounds on greyhound in your back seat during a thunderstorm in the dark.

If you want to watch tomorrow's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, they're being broadcast live on HRTV and streamed at www.racingmuseum.org , starting at 10:30 am ET.