08/22/2010 1:08PM

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.