07/30/2009 12:14PM

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. 

Diceman More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Commenters are finally speaking the truth about Saratoga Racing and Amenities! In my judgment, Saratogo is the most hyped and over-rated racing facility on the Planet! I speak from experience. I have been there at least 20 time in the past 30 years. The place is Filthy; the Food is over-rated and over priced; The Restrooms are a disgrace and have not been improved in the past 3 decades; The Clubhouse and Grandstand are in shambles; The Employees are unfriendly, and in some cases,possibly dis-honest; The Parking is over-priced and remote for the typical fan; and most importantly, the daily Racing Cards are average to mediocre, featuring too many State Bred Races! In direct contrast to Saratoga, Keeneland, Lexington, KY, is the best Racing Facility in the USA. The racing cards are top shelf; the food tasty and inexpensive; Senior Management are the most dedicated racing officials in the Country; and Employees, mosly Senior Citizens, are Simply the Best! I live within 100 miles of Keeneland. I make several trips each year in the Spring and Fall for live racing. I truly enjoy the scenic beauty, excellent amenities, betting opportunities and a Fast Synth Track every day! Their Turf Course is the very best. Steve, thanks for the opportunity to contribute to your blog. It's become Racing's Bible under your brilliant leadership! Good Luck and Good Health! The Diceman
Arcstats More than 1 year ago
I just read a Dave Litfin post indicating that 25% of the bulbs in the tote board are not functioning. How can that be???? Maybe NYRA should organize a bulb drive - announce the type of bulb needed and anyone who brings one to the track next Monday will get free admission. Then on the Tuesday off day, maybe they could replace the bad ones. All I know is if I were planning on spending any time at Saratoga, I'd really be pissed at this condition.
Arcstats More than 1 year ago
You cannot blame any of the networks for their lack of interest in this weekend's action. Think about it - if you're in charge of programming and you look at the overall wagering and atttendence numbers of the sport, the only audience that would be interested is either at the track or watching via TVG, HRTV, or online. You'd have to practically give away sponsorship time on top of adding in the cost of a live production. No one in their right mind is going near that situation (bear in mind every network is hurting too). This is just another example of the unintended consequences racing now faces due to their inability to remove the cheats and get organized on national front over the past 20 years. Steve, I find it so ironic that you follow up your media opinion with a comment on "emerging" tracks and their "big" races. Further evidence of just how disjointed this sport has become, and in turn, irrevelent on the national sports scene.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Those of you who didn't bet Nacho Friend in the Sanford were just plain lucky! Do the names Desire To Excel and True Addiction ring any bells for you? They are the names of 2 BOMBS that Kelly Breen has shipped into NY with in the last few years to run in a 2yr old GrStk. Desire won a GrStk at around 28-1 and Addiction ran 2nd in the Adirondack (I believe)at over 30-1. Was sure he would carry on when Bravo dove to the rail inside the 16th pole, but he came up short and got 4th. Geez, 3rd place woulda saved the tri. The point is; Breen is deadly when shipping into NY for a summer/fall 2yr old GrStk. Always from Mth-always with Bravo up. Duggan is live with Stud Muffin today.
Hammer More than 1 year ago
Linda Rice is the Queen of Turf Sprints!!!!
92LNeck More than 1 year ago
Steven / george315: Yes...I fell victim to the same NYRA snafu for the early P4. That is why I posted earlier in Steven's blog about needing to hedge quickly. Here is what happened: Won the early P4 on Day 1. Find myself alive to the 1,4,7 in the early P4 on Day 2. I look at my willpays and they are ridiculously low. I'm scratching my head wondering what is going on. I then here Durkin make the announcement and then see the corrected willpays. I realize that I can make a nice score with the 1,4,7. But I also realize that I was snookered by Bill Mott as he enters Choosing (Ire) in the 5th with a gappy race history in 2009 (ran Jan/Mar/May and now late July) along with a significant drop in Class. I figure something is wrong with the horse and did not like him when I hcp'd the race, but now I realize he is the most likely winner. I thought I might pick him up as the nyra.com TOTEBOARD was showing that the only one of the Ramsey entries was scratched (I think Queen Stephanie). Then I look at xpressbet.com and see that another Ramsey entry was scratched (I think Miss Fleetfoot). At this point, I'm not sure if I pick up the 8 or not (Steven later posted that I would not), but all this didn't matter as 2 of the 3 Ramsey entries were scratched before the P4 began. Net/net: nyra.com TOTEBOARD hosed me multiple ways yesterday. I'd love to know how that happened. Net/net prime: I hedged my P4 with Choosing (Ire) on top of the 2 (Blue Hill Bay) and 5 (Classical Fashion) with a large EX wager and saved my P4 loss.
str3268 More than 1 year ago
God Bless Linda Rice AND all of the horseplayers who let her turf sprinters get away at long odds, it's been fun playing her horses. Awakino Cat really cut into the losses of the first 2 days. If only We're Hooked in the 6th had made it a Rice double we'd be showing a nice profit over here.
george315 More than 1 year ago
After the 4th race I flipped out!!!!!!! I had $1 pick 4's to the 12478. To my huge surprise, the pick 4 was paying to the following 6-2-All-?. How can this be? What all were they talking about? The 4th race was off the turf since 9:00 a.m.!!! I immediately called Neema Ghazi (Director of Marketing) who is always fan friendly and truly cares about us, the racing fans. I explained the issue. He said he would call the mutual department and get it fixed. Within 10 minutes, Tom Durkin announced that there was an error in calculating the pick 4's. Neema called me and left me a follow up message ensuring me that I would be paid correctly if I hit the pick 4. MAJOR KUDOS to Neema and the NYRA team for working quickly and saving the horseplayer. Awesome work Neema!!!!!! THANK YOU as Kent Desormeaux got the 8 up for a $1,400 payday instead of a $300 conso(3 of 4 plus an all conso). Justice was served due to Neema and his team. He needs to be recognized.
hz hackenbush More than 1 year ago
Caffeine to a greyhound. Isn't that like coals to Newcastle? (Or was it decaf?)
Eric More than 1 year ago
Long Live The Queen (Thank you, Linda Rice, for returning a good chunk of my bankroll)!