08/22/2009 8:31AM

Day 22: 8/22/09


9:30 am: Races 1, 4 and 7 are off the turf at Saratoga. Races 9 and 11, the 2nd and 4th legs of the $500,000 guaranteed late pick-4, remain on the grass. As of 7:22 a.m., NYRA was calling the main track "muddy" and the turf "soft." Forecast for the rest of Alabama Day is for temperatures in the high 70's with our constant companion "Isolated Thunderstorms."

1:45 pm: The main track is still labelled "muddy" but it looks more like "good" after being cut open and harrowed before the opener. The first two races, both at 5.5f for statebreds,  were nearly identical in style and clocking, with two speed horses going at each other from the top of the stretch to the wire. Before you go calling it a super inside-speed track, though, consider that the two in each heat were perfectly logical and may simply have been that much better than their opponents.

Alan Garcia, who won the first on Love My Mondays, claimed foul in the 2nd after finishing second to City Trooper aboard heavily-bet Violette firster Fenway Faithful. The stewards took a look and then properly left the result alone. City Trooper (Catellano) came over slightly but the momentary incident did not appear to alter the outcome of the race.

The upcoming third, a 9f route for older $25k claimers, features a racing rarity: Four of the seven entrants ran 1-2-3-4 in the Aug. 1 version of the race and every single one of them was claimed and goes for new connections today: Commodore Way (S. Dutrow to Parisella), Marina Market (Arroyo to Levine), Untopable (S. Klesaris to Contessa) and Targe (Maker to Ritvo.)

2:45 pm: None of the four claimers mentioned above won the 3rd -- the quartet that ran 1-2-3-4 last time ran 5-6-3-4 behind new shooters Three in the Bag and Chris Got Even -- but three of the four (as well as the winner) were claimed again:


--Commodore Way (1st for S. Dutrow, 3rd for Parisella) now goes to Scherer;

--Marina Market (2nd for Arroyo, 4th for Levine) was reclaimed by Arroyo;

--Untopable (3rd for Klesaris, 3rd for Contessa) now goes to Levine.

--Three in the Bag, an 8-length winner for Tony Dutrow, now goes to Linda Rice.

3:45 pm: Commenter jpc asked how to calculate a parlay to compare it to a pick-4 payout. Here's how it works, using today's early pick-4 at Saratoga as an illustration.

You start with $2. Bet it on the first winner, City Trooper, who paid $7 for $2, and you're up to $7. You bet the $7 on Three in the Bag at $7.20 and you get back $25.20 (3.6 x $7.00). You bet the $25.20 on Bad Action at $10.80 and you get back $136.08 (5.4 x $25.20.) You bet the $136.08 on Happy Bull at $10.00 and you get $680.40.

The $2 pick-4 of the same four winners paid $1,303. It usually does pay more than the parlay, primarily because although the wager has a 26 percent takeout, you are spreading that over four races rather than subjecting yourself to a 16 percent takeout four times in a row. This is a big reason I like and advocate multirace wagers.

5:25 pm: Best finish of the meeting in the 9th race, with six of them across the track and noses apart at the wire. It took a while to sort it out, but it was favored Grassy (2-1) by a nose over 20-1 Cherokee Speed, by a nose over 2-1 Good Prospect, by a nose over 8-1 Rock in Bage, with 9-1 Yankee Empire fifth and Boots Ahead sixth, beaten five noses: Sar082209photo

6:00 pm: No doubt about who's the second-best 3-year-old filly in the land: Careless Jewel, who won the G2 Delaware Oaks by 7 1/4 in her dirt and stakes debut last time out, and just won the Alabama by an almost Rachellian 11 lengths. The gray/roan daughter of Tapit sat just off Be Fair through square fractions, took over on the stretch turn, and drew away from a sputtering field in 2:03.24. Turned out to be a very chalky Alabama Day, with no winner better than 4-1 through the first 10 races. The pick-six to #1 is paying only $975, but you have to wonder how many of those tickets were bought by people who thought they were getting #1 Lemon Punch, a late scratch, as opposed to the weaker remaining runner in the entry, Marula.