08/19/2009 10:50AM

Day 19: 8/19/09


11:45 am: Off the turf for the first race of the second half of Saratoga 2009, but the day's four other grass races, including two-thirds of the pick-6 with a $41k carryover, are still scheduled for the turf.

Saratoga finally got some needed thunderstorms last night, but nothing like what I drove through in Manhattan around 10 p.m. after the movies (the pretty good "(500) Days of Summer"). The sky was filled with double and triple forks of lightning as if the portal to Gozer had just opened up in "Ghostbusters." There were downed trees everywhere, one blockiing the 86th Street transverse through Central Park after hitting a taxicab, another lying across three lanes of the FDR Drive.

At Saratoga, the main track is listed as being somewhere between fast and good, and the turf is labelled good, with a forecast of "isolated T-storms" for the afternoon.

Here's a recap of the 14 graded stakes run during the first 18 days of the meeting, including the winning Beyer Speed Figures, and the 18 scheduled for the back 18. Note that 11 of the first 14 were won at oddds of 7-2 or less, and six were won at 8-5 or less.

Today's G2 Adirondack for 2-year-old fillies, scheduled for 5:30 pm ET, features the second career start by Dashing Debby, the Medaglia d'Oro filly who won her debut by 10 1/4 lengths in a stakes race on the Summit of Speed undercard at Calder July 11. The performance prompted Jess Jackson to buy her from owner-trainer Gerald Procino. She's now trained by Steve Asmussen, who also handles the divisional leader, Hot Dixie Chick, for Jackson's wife, Barbara Banke -- and, of course, Jackson's 3-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly Rachel Alexandra. It's quite a broodmare band of future Brides of Curlin he's assembling.  

Dashing Debby earned a Beyer of 87 for her winning time of 1:12.19, a raw time that may look unimpressive but stacked up nicely against the winning performances of older stakes-winners in graded stakes later on the card: Game Face's 1:10.74 in the G1 Princess Rooney, Easton's Gift's 1:11.25 in the G2 Smile, First Passage's 1:11.22 in the G3 Azalea and Not for Silver's 1:11.91 in the G2 Carry Back.

Beautician, second choice on the Adirondack line off her second to Hot Dixie Chick in the opening-day Schuylerville, is an early scratch due to a mild case of colic

3:30 pm: That "good" turf course is looking pretty firm: Starfish Bay just went a first quarter in 21.27 and a half in 44.63 en route to a front-running victory in 1:02.69 in the New York to Old York Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The NYTOY was the first leg of the pick-6 with $41k carryover I didn't get involved with, as I'm still scrambling to hit the road back to Saratoga before nightfall.

Starfish Bay was the 10th winner of the meet for trainer Todd Pletcher, tying him for the lead with Linda Rice -- and doing it in a turf sprint! Rice's entrant, Thoroughly Holy, ran fifth..

The disqualification of Chippewa Court from 1st to 2nd place seemed pretty straightforward: The first-place finisher drifted several paths wide in the stretch, taking the path of Speechifying, who had to check momentarily. I'm not at all convinced Speechifying was going to run her down with a clear lane, but the drift and the check were clear.

The upset victory by Tidal Pool ($23.00) in the 4th -- the first allowance race of the year for 2-year-olds -- reinforced the view that the skimpy 2-year-old racing at Belmont this summer was not of the highest quality. Tidal Pool and runner-up Miss Diane made their last starts at Churchill and Prairie Meadows, while Belmont debut winners Elaine's Pride and Union Waters ran next-to-last and last.

4:30 pm: Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Put in a little $288 late pick-4 play, went out to run some errands, just got back to see the replay of McPeek firster House of Grace winning the first leg at 23-1...as an A! No great insights, I just wanted firsters in a race where I wasn't crazy about those who had already run.


Would I have de-emphasized her had I been watching the betting? Maybe. Do I have to give the money back if I get through what's now a 4x4x4 instead of what might have been a 4x1x4? Nah.

With a $13.20/$15.20/$48.40 start, good shot at a double-carryover, though House of Grace might have been shorter than 23-1 in the pick-6 in a blind, firster-laden race where anyone who played seriously probably spread out.

5:40 pm: Four wasn't deep enough in the Adirondack and I don't know that I would have come up with Worstcasescenario ($29.80) if you'd given me a couple more -- but boy was she best. The 2-year-old Forbidden Apple filly, winner of an off-the-turf sprint in her debut at Belmont, dueled 4-5 favorite Dashing Debby into submission in 21.49 and 44.32, drew away with six furlongs in 1:09.65 and finished up with an understandably slow final sixteenth of 7.07 for a 4 1/4-length victory and a final time of 1:16.72.

Needless to say, no one's alive for 6-of-6. The covered pick-4's are paying $19k and up, and there are two 3-of-4 runners in that pool.

Tomorrow's double-carryover: $178.902. It's going to be a late night.