08/26/2009 1:05PM

Day 25: 8/26/09

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1:05 pm: With Mine That Bird staying in the barn, NYRA linemaker Eric Donovan has made Quality Road 8-5, Summer Bird 3-1, Kensei 7-2 and Charitable Man 6-1 in a seven-horse Travers.

The race is scheduled for 5:46 pm ET Saturday and will will be the last leg of a $1 million guaranteed all-stakes pick-4, preceded by the G2 Ballston Spa at 4:05 pm, the G1 Ballerina at 4:38 pm and the G1 King’s Bishop at 5:10 p.m. The three Grade 1's will be broadcast live during a 90-minute ESPN telecast starting at 4:30.

As for today's card, the two stakes are the $70k Pleasant Colony for open 3-year-olds, which drew a field of five colts not nominated to the Travers, and the $150k Albany for statebred 3-year-olds. Fiddlers Afleet will be well under his 2-1 ML in the Albany, and while he's the most likely winner in a thin field, he's the kind of horse I'd be looking to beat if I could find a plausible alternative -- and I'm not done looking for one.

My reservation is that he comes off a big-figure romp against weak opposition at seven furlongs and now stretches out to a mile and an eighth. In four previous starts at a mile or more (albeit two of them on synthetic surfaces he may not have liked), he lost ground through the stretch every time. Maybe he's just too good for what's up against him today, but it seems like a lot of horses with distance limitations get caught by lesser stretch-runners in nine-furlongs races up here.

1:35 pm: The early pick-4 play:


 Sar082609ep4


(AAAA @$3=$81; ABAA @$2=$36; AAAB @$2= $162; ABAB @$1=$54; CAAA @$1=$27; Total=$360)

The thinking:

Race 2: The only one of the ones who had run I liked was turf-bred Ms. Thanksgiving. My others A's were the George Weaver and Chad Brown firsters, because both excel at 2-year-olds making turf-route debuts. Brown, whose Zodiac Girl just won at 7-1, won this exact same race ($75k maiden-claiming turf fillies) last year with Maram, who went on to win the BC Juvenile Turf Fillies.

Race 3: Cast as wide a net as I could in this turf maiden-claimer for older males. I seem to have omitted second-choice Seattle Brew, but he has backed up late in every start beyond seven furlongs.

Race 4: I'm just not sold on 2-1 favorite Guam Typhoon as a route horse rather than a closing sprinter, so I left him out in this field of five and went with proven routers Santana Six, Sumo and Saratoga Sinner.

Race 5: A complete guess with a Steve Klesaris firster in as otherwise dismal a field of statebred maiden claimers as you'll see all meeting. Used the three in the field who have shown a glimmer of ability as backups.

 

2:50 pm: So far so good, though the lukewarm opening price of 7-2 on the Klesaris firster (#10, Manhattan Miss) isn't too encouraging. Clement dropper Khukuri got a perfect trip to win the 3rd, and Sumo ran back to his Sam F Davis winning the 4th. In all fairness, Guam Typhoon ran gallantly to be second, duelling from the start with Santana Six and winning that battle while losing the war.

The pick-4 probables ($2 payoffs; I have $2 to the #10, $1 to the 1, 7 and 8):

1- $4,336; 7-$2,026; 8-$10,306; 10- $2,022


3:20 pm: Right but wrong but right but....I suppose it was technically a good guess on Manhattan Miss since she won, but she wasn't even favored and is clearly not much after winning a painfully slow race. Unfortunately for me, she was exactly a length better than Lyrical Bobcat -- the one that was paying $10k -- who mounted a very late rally that fell short.


4:10 pm: Not crazy about this sequence, but here we go:

Sar082609lp4


Race 7: Just believeing the board. Tiz Brian, the Asmussen firster at 5-2, is a must-use, and the Harty firster (The York on York) at 5-1 seems more "live" than the Pletcher firster (Condemned) at 9-2. So those two are my A's, with Condemned and second-timers Strictly Society and Anwar Sadat as B's.

Race 8: Split a four-horse race two and two, leaning towards Seminole Lass and Sonic Sound.

Race 9: Discussed earlier. I'm spreading.

Race 10: Really think Love for a Price has finally found a winning spot, but she's a little unreliable (10: 0-3-4) so I'd love to pick up my B's as well.


4:30 pm: Well THAT ended quickly. Wildcat Nation wasn't bet in his debut, had some trouble but in a mediocre race, and while I guess he took some money today at 7-1, I couldn't warm up to him. He got a dream trip today, sitting third while firsters Condemned and Tiz Brian killed each other off through a first quarter in 21.36, then inherited the lead and drew clear.

The Travers Day card has been drawn and I personally can't agree with the commenter who thinks the all-stakes $1 million pick-4 is "pretty lame" because of heavy favorites. Obviously Indian Blessing, Munnings and Quality Road can all win, but I don't think any of them are cinches. 

 

6:15 pm: Love For a Price found a way to fall short again, running second in the finale to Apple Grove, who completed a lone winning pick-6 ticket worth $52k.