08/16/2010 12:55PM

Day 22: 8/16/10


SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Morning downpours have knocked the nightcap off the grass and prompted scratches leaving fields of four and five in the two most important races on Day 22. 

So far only the 9th race is off the grass, but the skies are still threatening and main-track-onlies haven't been scratched in other grass races on the card. There's a one-day $63k carryover in the pick-6, where everyone will probably be singling in the 8th with Tahitian Warrior, who was going to be odds-on even before Kens Cape, Spirit of Cochise and Speight of Hand came out of the field for the seven-furlong N2x race.

The G2 Special, being run as the 3rd race, lost second-choice Sovereign Default and Wetzel, so it's Kantharos vs. three: Bail Out the Cat, beaten favorite when he missed the break in the Sanford; Blue Right By, seventh in the Sanford; and Manchurian High, a first-time starter by The Daddy who sold for $1,000 (One Thousand Dollars) as a  yearling last August.


2:20 pm: Kantharos, sent off at 3-to-20, took a while to get in gear and was third of four down the backstretch, but caught up to Bail Out the Cat in upper stretch and then drew off in a 7 1/4-length romp. His final time of 1:18.63 may seem pedestrian, but this is one slow muddy main track -- in the 2nd, $60k maiden-claiming 2F's needed 1:08.36 for 5 1/2 furlongs, six full seconds off the track record.

A kantharos, since I'm sure you were wondering, is a type of Greek pottery used for drinking.

Manchurian High, the $1k firster, earned 15 times his purchase price running a distant third, 18 lengths behind the winner and is now officially Grade 2-placed.

That pick-6 with the $63k carryover starts with the upcoming 4th. Good luck if you're braver than I playing it. Coming off my two best days of the meeting, with black ink almost in sight, maybe I should be pressing on with confidence. But even with the seemingly free square of Tahitian Warrior, I've got five or six horses open in every other race and no strong convictions.


3:25 pm: Gate Scratch/Switch-to-PTF Alert: Gitchee Goomie, pounded to 6-5, was scratched at the gate just before the 5th, cutting everyone else's price and playing particular havoc with pick-6 players: All wagers running throuh GG were switched to the new post-time favorite, 2-1 Justify, who ran fourth while new second-choice High Cry ($8.50) wired the field through very slow fractions.

When you're looking back at what today's pick-6 does or doesn't pay, remember that High Cry was a lot more than 3-1 in the pick-6, and Justify was a lot less than 2-1 -- more like 3-5, considering that he ended up carrying not only the tickets running through himself but all of those on Gitchee Goomie as well.

Same goes for the pick-4, which paid a whopping $2,015 for combining winners that paid $16.60, $2.30, $8.50 and $8.50.


5:15 pm: Tahitian Warrior ($2.60) won without being asked for much once he corralled the dueling leaders. The King's Bishop 12 days hence is probably too soon for a runback, but the Godolphin gelding looks bound for stakes action of some sort.

EVeryone's covered in the off-the-turf finale, at payoffs ranging from $17k on favored D'Bigcat to $267k on longshots Little Alex and Cayo Hueso.


5:45 pm: Broken Home was the post-time favorite at 2-1 over D'Bigcat at 5-2, but D'Bigcat was an easy winner to complete the $17,996 pick-6 and $407 pick-4 and complete Week 4.

Three more six-day racing weeks to go, with 9 of the meet's 16 Grade 1's -- including the Alabama, Travers, Personal Ensign, Woodward and Hopeful -- still to go. (Some people would say 10 of 17 but I don't count steeplechases like the Aug. 26 "Grade 1" N.Y. Turf Writers' Cup, which are not part of the American Graded Stakes program but are assigned similar grades by the steeplechase people.)

I thought I was here to stay through the Personal Ensign, but Dondo's foot problem is a little more serious than we first thought. He's in good spirits and getting around just fine on his bandaged paw but it's down the Thruway again tomorrow for some more tests and x-rays.