08/24/2009 1:26PM

Day 24: 8/24/09


1:25 pm: It's a warm and breezy fourth Monday at Saratoga, where races 1, 7 and 9 remain on the grass while the 4th and 6th have been moved to the main track after some overnight rain. Main track "good," turf "soft."


It's Travers Week, if you start your weeks with Monday, thought it feels more like the back end of a two-day Yaddo Festival: Starting with yesterday's eighth race, 7 of the last 12 races of Week 4 are for New York-bred fillies, including all three Sunday and Monday stakes: yesterday's Yaddo and today's Lucy Scribner and Union Avenue. (Yaddo is the artists' colony next to the track, which sits on Union Avenue. Lucy Skidmore Scribner was the founder of Skidmore College here.)

As for the Travers, the prospective field is now eight in the official absence of Rachel Alexandra, whose connections announced this morning she'll await a historic run against older males in the Woodward Sept. 5. The three Travers favorites are, by my count, the only 3-year-old males in training who have won Grade 1 dirt routes this year: Mine That Bird (Kentucky Derby), Quality Road (Florida Derby) and Summer Bird (Belmont Stakes.) Others considered likely are Kensei (Dwyer, Jim Dandy), Charitable Man (Peter Pan), Hold Me Back, Our Edge and Warrior's Reward.

As the week begins, I'm thinking that Quality Road will be the favorite in the 2-1/5-2 neighborhood, with Mine That Bird the second choice over Kensei and Summer Bird.

1:45 pm: A little early pick-4 action:


(AAAA @ $2 = $72; CAAA @ $1 = $36, AACA @ $1 = $45; Total = $153)

The thinking:

Race 2: No idea why no-faster-than-anyone Synchronicity is favored; liked second-timer Tuscana before she was scratched 8/2, finds easier spot today.

Race 3: So and So looks like she oughta romp at 2-5.

Race 4: A complete scramble now that it's off the grass, and ML fave Linsalata has never raced on dirt. Took the four best dirt performers as A's, all others as C's.

Race 5: Pletcher/Dogwood dropdown Kickapoo towers over the field but has some character issues, so I also took the two who looked next fastest, including the intriguing surface-switcher Jed Greeley. 

2:50 pm: Double phew.

Phew #1: In race 3, So N So was best winning the Scribner but had to survive a jockey's objection and a stewards' inquiry, for dropping over in front of Mineralogist, to stay up at $2.50. Rooting interest aside, I think they made the right call because the incident was marginal and the outcome of the race was not affected by it.

Phew #2: In race 4, I was about to feel like a nitwit for having backed up to "all" as 6-5 favorite Skip Away Belle had a seemingly insurmountable lead with 100 yards to go, but Garcia somehow got 14-1 Lerman surface-switcher Privacy up to win by an inch. (Much grousing from Skip Away Belle fans after the race questioning Coa's possible overconfidence on the seemingly-home favorite, but the stewards told a reporter they were satisfied with the ride.) So, instead of being alive with $2 pick-4's in the $150-$500 range, I've got a buck of ones coming back $1154, $3746 or $2511.

3:20 pm: Kickapoo was just too good at 1-to-2, especially after being allowed to walk to the lead in 46.75 in a six-furlong race, but $1154 for $2 ($577 for $1 in my case) is not a bad pick-4 payoff for a sequence including $2.50 and $3.10 winners.

Oops, only a nine-race card today, which means it's only 26 minutes to the late pick-4.

3:55 pm: Like I always say, fool me seven times, shame on you, and fool me eight times, shame on me. In other words, I'm making all four-legged Linda Rice horses A's for the rest of this meet. even if they're fillies against colts like Hook Me Up ($7.80), who just wired and dusted a pretty decent field of statebred colts in the first leg of the late pick-4:


I seem to have omitted current 2-1 favorite Dirge in the upcoming second leg. Dirge, a one-eyed 7-year-old gelding, is a lovely story but is taking a big step up in company in his second start off a two-year layoff.

5:05 pm: Huzzahs to Randy Moss, who advocated trying to beat 3-5 Dance Gal Dance with 10-1 Silvercup Baby in a post today on his new drf.com blog. Wish I had believed him enough to make Silvercup Baby an A instead of a B, but I'm not unhappy about having live $1 tickets to both my A's and B's in the finale. Here are the $2 payoffs:

2: $2,946; 3: $3,159; 4: $24,787; 5: $3,578; 7: $3,207.

And yes, my quintet includes the Linda Rice-trained firster, Conseated Lady (#2), who has opened as the 2-1 favorite in this 5.5f turf sprint. It also includes currently 28-1 Raging Meese (#4). He's trying a turf sprint for the first time but for what it's worth, his two other siblings to try the grass both won on it, including Meese Rocks, who won the turf-sprint nightcap at 15-1 here Aug. 9.

5:35 pm: Tight photo in the finale with 3-1 Goodandacceptable just nosing out 9-2 Todo K. No sweat for my little pick-4's or for whoever held the one live pick-6 ticket to both of them for $47k. And -- alert the media! -- the 5-2 Linda Rice firster was nowhere to be found.

New York Turf Writers' awards banquet tonight at 7:00 at the Saratoga National Golf Club -- tickets still available for $100 at the door if you had a good day and don't have any plans. There's an open bar, and it's the night before a welcome dark day.