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Day 27: 8/22/10
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The rain woke me at 4:12 a.m. and it was still going strong four, six and eight hours later. The dusty turf course needed a good soaking and it's getting several today, with nothing but more of the same in the forecast through tomorrow. Everything's off the grass including the G2 Lake Placid, which is now a three-filly race at a nine furlongs in the slop. I am guessing that the Graded Stakes Committee will exercise its prerogative to knock off-the-turf races down a grade with this one, given that the three remaining runners have combined to make one career start on the dirt before today.
I survived both Jockey Club functions, last night's black-tie dinner and this morning's Round Table. (The dinner is a no-guest function, so Popeye(r.) did not attend, but a black-and-white dog looks pretty good next to a guy in a tuxedo, no?) I got lucky in the seating arrangements and found my placecard was between Ted Bassett, the longtime Keeneland chairman, and Cot Campbell, the founder of Dogwood Stable, both master storytellers. The Round Table featured presentations by officials from Keeneland, Monmouth, NYRA and Woodbine and updates on various safety initiatives.
As for today's races -- or "regattas" as Tom Durkin called them at the end of the second splashfest -- there was a dq in the opener when the victorious 11-1 Laylaben was dropped from 1st to 3rd for forcing third-finisher Under the Rainbow to alter course as everyone was slipping and sliding down the stretch the stretch through 7f in 1:27.40. In the 2nd, favored Jim's Applemartini drew clear in 1:13.62.
And now, as promised, Day One of Alternalunch: It's Sunday, which feels like a day for pancakes, so I'm headed for the closest thing -- the Crepes stand at the foot of the escalato and right next to (sigh) Hattie's. Full report soon.
3:00 pm: The Crepes Report: Crepes: A-minus; What's inside them: B-minus.
For my main course, I went for the $8.50 "Chicken, Cheese and Ham," over the three other choices -- "Chicken, Cheese, Spinach, Mushroom," "Spinach, Cheese, Mushroom" and "Newburg." They've got the crepe part down about perfect -- golden brown, grippable without leakage, thin but with a wee bit of crunch. But the undistinguished ham, dry chicken and unidentifiable cheese inside were disappointing.
Sparing neither expense nor discomfort, I went back later for a $4.75 dessert crepe, picking banana over strawberry or cinnamon and declining the complimentary addition of chocolate. This was more like it, with hearty banana chunks (not wafery slices) in a vaguely Bananas Fostery sauce. However, said sauce soaked through the crepe pretty quickly, grippability declined sharply, and I soon had a handful of warm banana -- tasty but probably not the best thing to order if you're trying to impress a first date or business clients.
As for the Lake Placid, It's Tea Time ($3.50), the only one of the trio to have tried dirt before (9th in the Kentucky Oaks) rated behind Hatheer and Triple Cream until the turn, blew by them, and won by 7 1/2 lengths. The Dynaformer filly, winner of a N1x turf allowance here Aug. 1, was second in the G1 Ashland in April.
3:30 pm: Tomorrow's five scheduled turf races (1st, 2nd 4th, 6th and 8th) will all be run on the main track, assuming it hasn't been washed away.
4:00 pm: Cave's Valley ($24.60), only horse in a field of six who went off at higher than 6-1, was an easy winner of the 6th, a rare completely unrestricted claiming race at the $30k level. With 12-1 and 11-1 winners in the first two legs of the pick-6, there's already a good chance of a carryover.
6:15 pm: Even with a 9-5 and two 3-1's in the last three races, there's a $47,144 carryover to the final day of Week 5, and there was just one winning 5-of-6 conso sold today, returning $15,714. Tomorrow's sequence, which begins with race 4 , includes three off-theturfers and two $70k stakes: the 6f Union Avenue for statebred fillies and the off-the-turf Bennington for 3-year-old fillies at 5.5f.
More Saratoga Food Memories- I still remember the fresh Corn on the Cob under the tented concession stand in the grandstand just past the quarter pole, the clam chowder bar (still in the same place), a hamburger stand with a huge chunk of onion somewher in the middle of the park - all great eating. I also remember Boog Powell's one year collasol rib flop, as well. Of course, we still have Hatties. Divot80
cannot argue with the shaky cards lately. came up yesterday and will be here through rachels race next sunday. i tend to do much better when i am at the spa versus playing from home. too many distractions at home? anyways, i did great yesterday with nice win wagers on heavenly blaze ($27) and caves valley ($24.6). both were very playable at great odds and closers were doing quite well.. and heavenly was a main track only and they let him off at 12-1 !!!! i had the m.t.o. exacta 10 times and it paid $102.. looking forward to the week. supposed to be much nicer weather as we go thru towards travers weekend.
Equal time response to Gary C.: "DRF reporting Zenyatta is staying in Cally until the Breeders Cup. ... it is gutless to keep beating the same horses over and over again." First off, Zenyatta was shipped to Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom in April, a race to which Rachel Alexandra's connections had committed before they backed out. $5 million was on the table, and Rachel Alexandra was even given a date concession. Second, following the Apple Blossom, Zenyatta carried 129 pounds in the Vanity, facing St Trinians, the No. 3 ranked mare nationally by the DRF. Also entered in that race was Zardana, who earlier in the year defeated Rachel Alexandra. That was a formidable field. Third, you are just factually incorrect. Zenyatta has defeated 11 grade one-winning fillies and mares, including two Breeders' Cup Distaff winners. She was entered in 16 consecutive graded stakes races. "Hard to understand how Z can never come to NY and still be considered an all time great. It seems that Goldikova is the mare that everyone should be talking about." First off, Goldikova has never run in New York, and her connections had the opportunity to enter her against Zenyatta in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic. Also, I do not hold it against Ruffian, my favorite all-time filly, that she never ran outside of NY/NJ. Nor do I hold it against Personal Ensign that she left New York about as frequently as Woody Allen. And what exactly was Zenyatta supposed to do, chase Rachel Alexandra up and down the East Coast all summer after Jess Jackson backed out of the Apple Blossom? Obviously, after Jess Jackson's dodge in the Apple Blossom, the focus of Zenyatta's connections shifted to preparing her for the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Breeders' Cup is not being held in New York this year, and thus is not part of the equation.
Don Reed; The racing might have been subpar today, but your wit continues to be stellar! Well done, friend!
I thought the 1st half of the round table conference was a joke, other then the Woodbine presentation - Woodbine has really improved racing in Canada. But as for the other presenters, Keeneland pushed Trakkus, which does improve the product but is expensive & is hardly a panacea for what ails racing; that's their solution? Monmouth trumpeted their experiment but conveniently failed to mention that their purse structure is not sustainable without the subsidies that they are currently receiving from the AC casinos, nor was it mentioned that those subsidies end this year. NYRA tooted their horn and had an interesting graphic showing their purse structure was sustainable while Monmouth's was not, but NYRA seems convinced that their salvation lays in the Aquduct VLT's, which is hardly the long time solution for NYRA or racing; in fact, tying the future of racing to slots revenue may hasten racing's decline. So the leaders and brightest minds in American racing - that's all they’ve got? Sad. And what about the NTRA, an institution that was front and center at the previous round table conferences held during the last decade? This year, I don’t recall the NTRA even being mentioned at the round table conference; that was strange. For me, the first half of the 2010 Jockey Club round table conference was like taking a trip to the twilight zone.
What a very handsome Gent! You look pretty good, too, Steve.
This is the first year I've taken a good hard look at the Saratoga meet. I have a day job, and horse racing is an occasional interest. However, with TVG available on Direct TV, I'm watching lots of horse racing. As it happens, I went to Saratoga for the first time for the Whitney. I was near the top of the stretch and saw Quality Road pass me alone of the lead. What surprised me was how many cheap claiming races fill the cards, especially maiden claiming. I love maiden races, especially special weights. This contrasts with Monmouth putting up huge purses and some great cards. Some downsizing of the racing calender is in order to have bigger fields, larger purses, and higher quality races. Leave cheap claiming races to the lessor tracks.
I thought the Chicken, Cheese, Spinach, Mushroom crepe was pretty good.
So I go to the track early and put in my pick 3 and pick 4 bets. The infield lake has relocated to the quarter pole but I figure the weather will scare folks off and make it easier for me to score. I read off my slip of paper and punch it all in the SAM machine but I don't check my receipt ticket because, well if you do that then stories like this wouldn't develop. Unfortunately, I had all the pick 3's except the race 7-8-9 combination. Somehow I neglected to enter that one as I put them all in even though it's right in front of my face. I home reading the Sunday paper and watching OTB out of the corner of my eye. The 9th race finishes and I start to celebrate winning the pick 3 (I may have even mentioned to Mrs. Pick 3 that she's dammed fortunate she married a smart handicapper like me.) I pull out my ticket and the race 7-8-9 pick three is missing! After panic and disbelief I resign that I screwed up. I would have gotten half of the $422 payoff. I'm despondent but I still have a chance to hit the pick 4. I have the 1 and the 13 in the 10th. The 1 is the favorite at 5/2 and will pay a hair under three grand, the 13 is 7/2 and will pay 4 grand. (I'll get 1/2 of either). I also have $5 doubles going to both horses. The 1 chases the leaders while on the rail and stops badly on the turn. The 13 goes three wide, collars the leaders and briefly takes the lead at the top of the stretch until he realizes that winning the race will enrich my bankroll by two grand, whereupon he decides to take back and let somebody else cut the trail. I hear others tell their tale of woe and I bend a sympathetic ear but in the back of my mind I figure they exaggerated a little or did a foolish thing. I did the foolish thing. In the scheme of life/racing/betting I'll get over this one but for right now I feel pretty crappy so I thought I'd share some of the misery. Thanks for listening.... --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yes, the decision to place the stakes race as the 4th race turned out to be a good move. But I still hate it from a traditionalist point of view. Yes, I did profit off the Lake Placid, having successfully picked the winner, and then picking the winner of the 5th to complete the $49 double. (Coupled with the $3.50 win mutuel, $52 in wins [against $8 in bets]) Yes, there's nothing like Saratoga on a rainy day.