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Day 24: 8/19/10
Enough good news before post time for Day 24 that I'm considering this a winning day whether or not I cash a ticket.
Frank Stronach's announcement that Santa Anita is returning to dirt racing starting December 26 is of even greater joy to California fans and horsemen than it is to horseplayers 3,000 miles away. I fully respect those advocates of synthetic tracks who sincerely believe they were trying to help horses and jockeys with these new and unproven surfaces, but it's pretty clear that it hasn't worked out too well and that it has compromised, divided and confused the sport with no tangible benefits. Having races like the Big 'Cap and the Santa Anita Derby back on the dirt is a cause for celebration, as is the likelihood that future Breeders' Cups in California will be run on dirt and grass as they should be.
Closer to home, Dondo's tests came back clean, a huge relief after the upstate ER clinic vet had diagnosed his infected paw as having a soft-tissue tumor and recommending a toe amputation. Instead, antibiotics have just about healed up the toe, and the whole household can head back up to Saratoga tomorrow for a final 10-day run.
As for today's card, it's playable if you're feeling daring and creative but I'm not touching the pick-6 despite the $60k carryover. I have no quarrel with the way the races were arranged -- the three firster-loaded baby races were commendably positioned as the first legs of the early pick-4, pick-6 and late pick-4 -- but there's still way too much guessing for my taste, and there's not a race in the sequence with an inspiring candidate for singling.
The last two years I leaned on Banrock in today's feature, the West Point for New York-bred turfers, and while he came through both times he faces two rivals today who might be tougher than anyone he beat here in '08 (when Classic Pack was 2nd) and '09 (when he beat Pennington). I think you're about 95 percent to get through the race by using Banrock, Minnie Punt and Straight Story, but personally I'd have to use all three in equal strength.
3:30 pm: Weird start to the pick-6 carryover with a field of eight 2yo $75k maiden claimers set to go 5 1/2 furlongs -- three who had run and five firsters. First, the longest-priced firster (Pretty Mr. D) was a scratch at 8 MTP. Then one of the three who had run (Thankfulness) had to be wrestled into the gate. Then second-choice second-timer WIcky Jones threw his rider out the front of the starting gate during the load.
When the gates finally opened, the three who had run and the only firster who was bet (Ry Bread) all went for the lead as the others fell far behind. At the top of the stretch, Ry Bread packed it in and those who went with the three experienced favorites must have been feeling home free and pretty smart. Then the three leaders all got the staggers in the final furlong, 7-1 Whitney/Zito firster Mountain Bird shot through an opening at the rail, and 15-1 Hennig Firster Eighth Avenue cam storming down the outside, and 11-1 Darley firster Dawly got up to complete a $1490 all-firsters trifecta.
Mountain Town paid $16.40 as the fifth choice -- only the next two finishers were longer prices -- and completed a $3359 pick-4 that was the seventh biggest payoff among the original eight.
4:00 pm: Narrow favorite Star of New York ($7.60) took the second leg to complete a rare big overlay in the rolling daily doubles: The parlay of $16.40 and $7.60 winners is only $62.32 but the double paid $102.50.
There's got to be an appealing story floating around about the David Duggan firster, Dual Citizen, in the upcoming 7th for statebred 2-year-olds on the grass. The Proud Citizen gelding, 10-1 ML, opened up as the 3-1 co-favorite.
4:35 pm: The story was legit: Dual Citizen, 9-2 at post time, shot to the lead and led at every call....except the last one, where 9-5 Deciphering Dreams caught him right at the wire.
6:10 pm: Such Time as This held on grimly to win the nightcap and deprive us of a two-day $266k carryover into Friday's card.
After Mitigation upset the 9th at $45.20, there were only eight live tickets: 6 of them to Such Time as This at $44k and one each to the 3-1 second choices, Cover Story and Jazzy Moves, who ran 4th and 5th. SO that means either 4 or 5 of the winners had to sweat it out with a single on the favorite. Well done, you 4 or 5.
That is great news Santa Anita is going back to dirt. California racing is a better product than New York IMO. Stewards are less hands on there. Stewards in New York make too many decisions that let everyone know that, "they are there". It does not inspire confidence when betting large sums of money. There are just too many calls like the Vineyard Haven race and the call earlier in the Saratoga meet. Looking forward to getting my horse racing fix from California.
Hope the trip back today was fine and all went well for you. Interested about your thoughts on the Arlington Million card tomorrow?? It is quite the card and if you are an "anti-poly" track fan there are 12 races and the LAST 11 are all on the Arlington Turf! So is is quite the day, 3 Pick 4's and an all- Turf Stakes Pick 3. It has been dry and firm in Chicago. Lots of angles to bet. Will people be betting here ? and what are your thoughts, Steve? Only a field of 6 for the Alabama - seems some opportunities at Arlington.
Daniel Fink: I just entered Minnie Punt in stable mail. The race never came back as the front runners ran 4, 1, 2. Minnie made nice wide move and flattened out while giving ridiculous amount weight due to race being written under allowance conditions. Get him next time!!!
Steve: Great news about the hound - went through it with my wife and the wife's Doby, i.e., GET A SECOND OPINION - no longer can trust one. Still no good non track reviews - waffles, diner, etc. C'mon son.
Steve Very sad day today at Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, MA. They passed out 130 pink slip's and closed the doors forever. This is hard to believe!! So many great hounds have raced at that historic track. I am sure that you have bet a few bucks through the windows back in the day. Sad for the people that gave their heart and soul to the game of dog racing. Seems like everything is going down the drain these days. What are people going to do??? Whackymacky Out!!!
I do share your enthusiasm for the apparent change back to dirt at Santa Anita Steve. However, with Frank Stronach's track record of seemingly erratic behavior longstanding I'm not counting my chickens just yet. I'm sure you are an excellent poker player, but your concern over Dondo's condition seemed to seep through the last few days, even though you dutifully blogged on. I had meant to remark that a chocolate colored bandage on the foot would have silked him up like one of Darby Dan's finest from years ago. Can do so now that the news is all good. Lastly, four maiden claimers on Friday's card will cause me to go to work tomorrow rather than journey up the Thruway for a wrap around get away. I know they're trying but this is tough. Will get another Alabama under my belt on Saturday though, it's turned into one of my favorite Spa races.
Steve, great news about your dog. I miss my old dogs like mad. Slightly off topic but, having just got back to the UK from my first proper visit to Saratoga, I should like to share some thoughts. I realise that Saratoga is not entirely representative, but I don't see how the health of US racing can be quite as bad as sometimes portrayed in these comments. I witnessed 3 days of good competitive racing; I saw thousands of folks young and old enjoying themselves, betting a little and drinking and eating a lot; and the only really unhappy voices I heard were those of gamblers cursing their bad luck - and that happens the World over. The town itself was great. Although I tripped over on my first night and damaged my knee, I managed to hobble around most of the streets and thought the atmosphere was really vibrant and welcoming - certainly to this lone stranger. And did I mention the young women. How I wish I had visited 30 years ago. My last thought is, can I raise the cash to make a return visit one day?
Whoppie for Stronach ( not one of my favorite people, btw ) Now, let's hope the other (artificial, phoney, plastic,... ) tracks follow suit and return to dirt. BTW - How does one know if their blogs are being picked up? This is my fourth day of posting and have seen NONE of them printed. Divot80
08/19/2010 12:01 PM Saratoga Race Course 5 $4.00P6 1,5-7/2/4,5,8,10/7/2,5,10/2,9,10 $576.00 $88,968.00 [I guess this is someone purporting to have hit the pick-6 twice on a rather unusual $4 base-bet ticket. One problem: Since the willpays to the 9 and 10 were one-winner $266k payoffs -- the gross pool today was $371k -- how could this ticket have been alive for $4 to those two horses? -SC]
Just another vent... Sunday's entries are out, and the racing secretary did it again. Another Grade II put early on the card to maximize the Pick-6. The Saratoga Special did not deserve this treatment, and neither does the Lake Placid Stakes. GRADED STAKES RACES should be featured as such. Not kept to the early part of the race card to keep it out of the Pick-6. What next - a Grade I stakes put as the fourth race to prevent bettors from having an "easy" Pick-6? Are we going to card the Personal Ensign as the 4th race next Sunday to avoid having a 1-9 shot on the Pick-6 ticket? I realize the Pick-6 is big business, with syndicates and big spenders ruling the wager, but it's only one of many wagers offered.