07/30/2009 1:14PM

Day 2: 7/30/09

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1:15 pm: Despite hours of driving rain last night, only the 4th race on Thursday's Saratoga card has been moved to the main track. So far.

Given the severity of yesterday's storms, which began with three races to go on the opening-day card, it was a surprise that the four other flat grass racess are staying there -- almost as much of a surprise as the banner headline on the front page of local paper, The Saratogian, this morning: "Picture-Perfect Opening Day!" Maybe they had an early deadline.

Can't tell much about the turf courses, officially labelled "good," from the Thursday opener, since it was a steeplechase. It's probably safe to say they won't be setting any time records: You the Man's winning time for the 16.5 furlongs was 3:56.80, which is over 20 (twenty) seconds off the course record.

Day 2 is usually the slowest of the entire meeting in terms of attendance and handle but also one of the most pleasant when the weather cooperates, which it's doing so far. The sun is out, there's a nice breeze going, and the place is delightfully quiet and empty.


1:40 pm: The main track is labelled fast and is it ever: In the 2nd, for bottom-rung $20k 3-year-old claimers, Working Class Hero went 6f in 1:09.43. Last time out, Working Class Hero earned a Beyer of 73 for running the same distance in 1:11.56 at Delaware. The $19.20 winner completed a $318.50 early double.


2:15 pm: And the speed goes on: Kaper Lake, a 5-year-old gelding running for a $25k tag, narrowly won the 3rd race in 1:08.07, equalling the pre-100ths track record of 1:08 flat set by Spanish Riddle in 1972. Other horses have run "1:08 flats" since Spanish Riddle, most recently Speightstown's 1:08.04 winning the 2004 Vanderbilt, but whoever did it first is considered the track-record holder.


4:30 pm: Got to think we're headed for a pick-6 carryover after victories by My Lucky Penny ($46.20) and Kinsey ($17.20) in the second and third legs.


Queenscrown4:50 pm: Another turf-sprint stakes....another winner for Queen Empress of the Turf Sprints Linda Rice, and at 9-1 to boot. This time it was Awakino Cat, a 4-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding making his New York debut after winning turf sprints at Suffolk Downs, Meadowlands, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay and Monmouth.

The race was the $70k Quick Call, named for the Saratoga-loving gelding trained mostly by Sid Watters in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Here are his lifetime pp's:

Download QuickCall

Looks like the turf course might have needed that long drink of water last night. Awakino Cat needed just 1:01.87 for the 5 1/2 furlongs, only 1.21 seconds over the course record of 1:00.66.

Awakino Cat completed a $4881 pick-3. Carryover likelier by the minute. Between a column and interviews and one distraction and another ( don't you hate it when work gets in the way of your horseplaying?), I didn't get involved in either of today's pick-4's, much less the impossible-looking no-carryover pick-6. So I've got some handle to make up for tomorrow

I'll post my pick-6 plays at the meet whenever possible using the graphics provided by Ticketmaker, which remains a free part of any Formulator download through this weekend before becoming part of enhanced and deluxe Formulator packages only starting Monday, August 3.


5:45 pm: Backtalk just ran his record to 3-for-3 winning the G2 Sanford, but students of time aren't going to like the race and trip handicappers may prefer Bulls and Bears, who finished a very troubled fifth in a blanket finish.

Backtalk, the best son of Smarty Jones to race, is a gutsy fighter of a colt and he's rallied sharply to win all three of his starts, including the G3 Bashford Manor last time out. But his winning time of 1:10.07 was the slowest of the day's three 6f races and doesn't look so hot compared to Kaper Lake's 1:08.07 earlier on the card. It's possible that the track slowed a bit but given that only 1 1/4 lengths separated the first five Sanford finishers, it's likelier that it was a slow than a quick race. And it's not going to be in the same Beyer ballpark as the 103 that Hot Dixie Chick earned yesterday winning the Schuylerville.

Bulls and Bears, who overcame a rough trip to win his debut, had an even tougher journey today. He broke sluggishly to fall behind the field, rallied into contention, then was blocked while weaving inside and out through the stretch. He may be a risky proposition given his bad habits, but could be the best of the bunch if he ever figures out how to play the game.

Dondocoffee6:21 pm: It's official: $34,729 carryover into Friday.

So get to work, but take your time. Sleep in a little, have a second cup of coffee in the morning, (like Dondo's doing at right), explore town if you're up here: First post isn't until 2:30 for Friday's nine-race card, and the pick-6 is scheduled to start with the 4th at 4:09 pm ET.

The sequence is bookended by a turf sprints, with two dirt sprints and then a pair of route stakes in the middle: the $86k High Rock Springs for statebreds at 9f on the dirt, and the $150k G2 Lake George for 3-year-old fillies at 8.5f on the inner turf. The "Talking Horses presented by DRF" seminar starts 90 minutes later than usual, at 1:15 pm in the Carousel, and David Grening will be the guest analyst for Friday's card.