08/20/2009 1:30PM

Day 20: 8/20/09


1:30 pm: A bunch of key scratches in today's $178k double-carry Pick-6, leaviing fields of just 6, 9, 6, 10, 8 and 8. That doesn't mean it's easy, and in a couple of cases the defections made things harder. The finale, an N2L filly turf sprint, is particularly inscrutable. It's a thin enough bunch that you can't even take a stand against the just-transferred-to-Linda-Rice favorite desite its shaky form.

The featured Saratoga Special is a good and tough race to handicap, with 2-year-olds coming in from a variety of different tracks and surfaces. I'm leaning towards those who have shown some finishing kick in a race that appears on paper to have ample one-way speed. So I picked the race Quick Zip, D'Funnybone (first-time Dutrow) and Fearless Cowboy (first-time McLaughlin), and they'll be my A's.

3:20 pm: There was $687,351 in fresh pick-6 handle poured on top of the $178,903 carryover, $1872 $2088 of it from me:


It's a straightforward, five-ticket, single-substitution play, one that flowed from my inability to find a single "single" on which to lean. So I'm 2 and 3 deep with A's in each leg and a little light on backups, lifelines I can go to only once. In the first leg, I guessed with the two firsters in the field of six, especially after they opened as the favorites against four proven disappointments, and favored Bobbi O. (McPeek) was an easy winner.

3:55 pm: The skies opened for one of those end-of-the-world 10-minute flashstorms you get used to up here, then it all stopped just as the horses went into the gate for the 6th. Favored Whirling Thunder, a nine-time loser in special-weight company, enjoyed the drop to maiden-35, shaking off an early challenge from 36-1 Roma di Notte, opening an insurmountable lead in upper stretch, and then tiring but holding off Dukinfield and Magnificent Max, the third and second choices.

4:20 pm: Just started getting emails that this hasn't been posting today. Think it's working now. MAnaged to get two boring favorites home in your absence.

4:35 pm: Hope whoever's unloading on these Flying Zee horses has some toll money set aside. It came pouring in again today on Smooth Transition, 6th at 8-5 in debut, and now fifth at 7-5 in his second start. That action probably inflated the price on 8-1 Golly Day, third winner of the day for trainer George Weaver, and a pretty logical firster to like on the Saratoga grass: Her dam, Wake Up Kiss, won a division of the Yaddo here in 2003.

Her victory left me alive 2x3x6 the rest of the way. 

5:40 pm: A few of you, and the tote board, threw a scare into me about Tiny Woods, a horse I never considered using, and those fears mounted when he rocketed to a clear early lead. Fortunately for me, he folded his tent as soon as D'Funnybone came at him in upper stretch, and the race turned into a 10 1/2-length runaway as no one else really ran and my A's ran 1-2-3.

I'm really not trying to be a smart aleck, but why was Tiny Woods the favorite? Baffert and a funny name? His winning debut at Del Mar earned a mediocre figure and was visually unimpressive as he bore out and lasted by just a head.

Anyway, I'm alive to 6 of the 8 in the finale, ranging from $3287 on The Queen's Beso Del Sur to $9k to $22k on the others. And with my two uncovered horses currently at 10-1 and 22-1, it's an easy hedge. Actually, one of them is completely uncovered -- triple-carryover if #3, Approved by Mom, finds a way to win.


6:10 pm:  Talk about your Worstcasescenarios.

Of course the other A, the one paying $17k, had to run second to the indomitable Queen and the horrible $3k payout. Resistance is indeed futile, and you could see it unfolding the second Beso Del Sur was clear in fifth on the stretch turn.

As my father used to say, it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But not by much.