08/15/2010 1:45PM

Day 21: 8/15/10


SARATOGA SPRINGS -- You learn a little something new every day at the racetrack. Today I learned that a race for horses "which have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2008-2010" is in fact open to horses who have NOT started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2008-2010.

It came up in today's first race, run under those conditions, because one of the things I like to do in handicapping these starter-allowance races is to look at horses' lifetime pp's in Formulator and see how snugly they fit these conditions. So I went back on the first horse in the field, Poovey, and her last five starts in 2010, seven starts in 2009 and eight starts in 2008 did not include any races where she was available to be claimed for less than $20,000. She ran for $12,500 on Dec. 20, 2007, but that's 11 days outside the 2008-2010 requirement.

Turns out that there's a longstanding practice -- and it's explained somewhere deep in the catacombs of the condition book -- that if you've run in one of these races during the time period, you're automatically eligible to run in another even if you haven't "renewed" your eligibility by doing what the conditions say you must. So because of Poovey's appearance in a Feb. 10 version of this race at Aqueduct, she could run again today without actually having run for $16,000 since 1/1/08.

Poovey ran second, caught at the wire by her uncoupled stablemate Malibu Artiste.


4:30 pm: While I was out:

Right after I pushed the button on the above entry, I got a call from Mrs. Blog at the house that Dondo had chewed or otherwise busted open something between two of his toes and should probably be seen by a vet sooner rather than later, but the only canine vet clinic open on Sundays is about half an hour north of here off Exit 17. So I bolted the press box, drove back to the house, handed over the car keys to the houndmobile, and will be watching the balance of the card here with Popeye on Capital OTB tv while Dondo gets x-rayed and patched up.

So before all that, I played the early pick-4 and got knocked out in the first leg like almost every one else by 29-1 Moon Raven, but then I did something I don't usually do: Instead of licking my wounds until the late pick-4 started, I went ahead and "resubmitted" the remaining three-quarters of my pick-4 play as a $210 pick-3 investment on races 3-4-5, making  a $20 8/4,8/1,4,9 and a $5 1,2,7/4,8/1,4,9. Went to the smaller $5 "backup" ticket right away when Payout ran out at 2-5 in race 3, but Who's Willie Fitz (#2) got up at $44.80 for a decent start.

Then the phone rang about the hound and I forgot about wagering until things settled down an hour later. By then, Happy Week (#8) at $4.00 and Fancy Fiona (#9) at $19.20 had completed a $1248 for $2 pick-3 -- and a $50k pick-4 I could never have had but would have found highly annoying had I not played the last three legs separately.

It reminded me of Harvey Pack's frequent advice about playing the last four races of the day: Play the pick-4. If you get knocked out, play the late pick-3. If you get knocked out, play the late double. If you get knocked out, play the triple in the last. If you lose that, there's always simulcasting.

Apologies for today's erratic dispatches. Dondo update later on.


5:45 pm: Position Limit ($5.10) looked dominant winning the G2 Adirondack for Starlight/Pletcher in 1:17.30, which looks like good time next to the day's other sprints (1:12.39, 1:12.65, 1:24.25, 1:24.79.) Position Limit, a $55k July yearling purchase sired by Bellamy Road, won her debut in the mud at Belmont July 14 by 6 3/4 lengths earning an 89 Beyer. Second choice Alienation, a $60k Rock Hard Ten April 2-year-old purchase for the Baffert family, was clearly second best in her dirt debut.

No live pick-6 tickets into the finale, so there will be a little one-day $63k carryover into the nine-race card tomorrow that is last racing day of Week 4. The G2 Saratoga Special is being run as the 3rd race, out of the sequence, but the 8th race features an odds-on favorite anyway in Tahitian Warrior.