08/23/2010 2:18PM

Day 28: 8/23/10


SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A cool, windy, drizzly Day 28, with a nine-race card featuring five off-the-turfers, a one-day $47k pick-six carryover, and two $70k stakes for fillies in the slop.

I haven't decided whether to put in a small and cavemannish play, my only option for a card where moderate study has yielded nothing but the same two or three obvious favorites everyone else is going to like. Perhaps I'll put in a one-ticket play with three deuces and three treys to keep myself out of more than $432 worth of trouble, maybe not. If you're playing, you might want to include anyone you think is going to get an early lead, given that that's how today's first three races were run and won, albeit all by logical second choices.

I've already made one bad selection today on day Two of Ontrack Restaurant Week; the pulled-pork tacos at Cantina on Restaurant Row.

Cantina is a popular Mexican joint in town where I've had average-to-good meals, but unlike the other three Row residents -- Brindisi's, the Grey Gelding and Putnam Market -- the ontrack outpost seems a watered-down version of what's sold at home base. The pulled-pork taco's at the restaurant are described on the takeout menu as "Slow-roasted adobo pork with caramelized pineapple and salsa verde." The ontrack version (right) are just pork covered with cilantro and wrapped in two or three cold, soft tortillas.

The reason for the triple-wrapping became clear when I picked up one of my two-for-$7.95 tacos and all three wrappers instantaneously disintegrated. I was able to scooop up the innards with the very good fresh tortilla chips provided, but the pulled-pork itself was nothing special. Maybe you'll fare better with the chicken, steak or Baja fish versions, and there are also burritos, nachos or a taco salad for $8.95, but I suspect you'd do even better by visiting the actual restaurant at 430 Broadway.  


2:50 pm: Yabba-dabba-doo. Made the caveman play:


Got Cody Samora (#11) to wire the field at $4.00 in the first leg.

Just occurred to me that tonight, the Monday before the Travers, has always been the night of the New York Turf Writers Association's annual awards dinner, but this year there's no banquet for the first time in decades. The organization has been shrinking for years along with New York general-interest newspapers in general and their racing coverage in particular, and this year no one could muster a quorum to put on a dinner. Maybe next year. At least the organization's name lives on through Thursday's first race, the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap, a steeplechase at 2 3/8 miles.


3:30 pm: I could have put in 52 A/B/C double-reverse wacky-backup tickets and still not used Mine Over Matter ($39.60) in the second leg, so I can't blame the caveman approach. Apparently Eibar Coa on 9-5 Stormin Bold and Ramon Dominguez on 7-2 That's Rich were instructed to go at each other early and often, and they did, setting the table for the upset winner to storm past the field from far back.

The problem with getting knocked out of the pick-six in the second leg is...now you have to reload and play the late pick-4. So much for staying out of trouble.

4:05 pm: Other pick-6 players seem to have been more enthusiastic than this one: Despite the scratched-up card, today's handle on top of the $47k carryover was a hearty $294,258.


5:00 pm: Meese Rocks ($8.80) romped in the featured Union Avenue Stakes for statebred sprinting fillies, and whether you liked her or not it was a well-deserved victory: She did all the dirty work in the Fleet Indian Stakes here July 30, winning the battle but then losing in the final stride to My Dinah. Today, the 5-year-old mare put away La Concerto and Gold for the Queen early and then simply drew off at her preferred 6f distance.

Meese Rocks may have inherited her fondness for a wet track from her sire, Rock and Roll, who won 10 of 38 career starts including the 1998 Pensylvania Derby but is best remembered by speed-figure afficianadoes for earning a spectacular Beyer Speed Figure of 121 winning a 1998 Belmont allowance race in the slop by 14 lengths. Amazingly, in 28 subsequent career starts he caught only one more sloppy track -- and finished second as the 4-5 favorite.

In the off-the-turf Bennington Stakes one race after the Union Avenue, Todd Pletcher was rewarded for being the only trainer to have the foresight to enter a main-track-only. Hilda's Passion blew open the off-the-turfer early and drew off to win by 8 3/4 lengths in 1:03.84 for 5.5f. 


5:15 pm: Looks like there's ONE live pick-6 ticket, singled to currently 6-1 Stopbluffing and returning $210k if he wins. Otherwise, that's what the two-day carryover will be on Wednesday.


5:45 pm: Who wanted a day off anyway? Stopbluffing may still be running, so there is indeed a $210k carryover to Wednesday. Sure hope you like 2-year-olds on the grass: That's half of the sequence (4th, 6th and 9th), and the latter two "blind" races both have six first-time starters.  

Five of the six pick-6 races are scheduled for the turf, which may well be playing differently after the two-day soaking it has taken. The lone dirt race in the 4th-to-9th span is the $100k Albany, where Ibboyee is even-money on the ML.



brainhurts More than 1 year ago
While I would opt for the larger payoff also, it seems to me a true professional would root for the double carryover. The double carryover representing the golden opportunity, the arena where life changing scores can be made at the race track. And--assuming the professional plays all single carryovers with extended coverage--an opportunity he can't get to for less than $600. Well, that's technically not correct, because though not hitting the one day carryover, he could still have enough consolations to cover the cost of his ticket, but still....if double carryovers are what you live for, $600 seems like a reasonable ante for a chance to win $500,000 +. Now here's a wild concept: How much of an ante would you put up to play in a pick six pool with no takeout? Keeping the numbers simple, let's say the NYRA does $100,000 (high) on a non-carryover day. Their take: $16,000. But if they eliminated takeout in favor of a house ante of $100 their break even point in this experiment would be 160 players. Two hundred players means an extra $4,000 to their bottom line. The player's break even point is when the ante becomes less than 16 percent of his total wager, somewhere around the $600 level. Or, bet a thousand, your wagering cost is 10 percent. 160 people betting $1,000; $160,000 for distribution. In such an arrangement players determine their own takeout rates. The potential downside is such a pool becomes cannibalistic; too many whales, not enough plankton. And, even with increased antes, it becomes difficult to make the numbers work for the track on carryover days. Indeed, maybe there would be no carryover days. Bad. But, maybe every day, 1000 players at $100, becomes a $100,000 dollar day for the track, every pool a potential $500,000 offering. Not so bad. Who knows how it would play out? I'm just a fellow throwing petals into the wind. Still, as a general rule, I welcome the notion of experimenting with pools whereby the track gets its due, but the public is rewarded with lower effective takeouts when wagering greater sums.
hammer More than 1 year ago
Steve, silly question, but what is the definition of a "caveman" ticket? Thanks, as always love the blog. [A caveman ticket is what I call a one-ticket play, 1 to 4 horses per race, where you're giving every horse equal weight and giving yourself no chance to reach deep for longshots if you're right in a few key spots, which you can do with a multi-ticket array. -SC]
ML/NJ More than 1 year ago
Mr. Pick 3 should stop complaining. The Harness Track had a Pick-3 last week that paid $2.30 !!
Richhf More than 1 year ago
It's easy to pay $2.30 on the Pick-3 when you have two 1/9's combined with ALL. Or $2.10 on the Double. That's why the Raceway should perhaps offer more than two Pick-3's on their typical 13 race cards.
Moo Mike More than 1 year ago
Steve, Love the blog but let's comment on the food. I'm 11. I sample all food at Saratoga. Here are my top picks: #1 Chicago Dog from the Shakeshack (even though I'm a Yankee fan) #2 Hattie's Chicken sandwich -- right in line with you #3 Manhattan Clam Cowder at the Cowder Bar -- Spa classic, unmatched #4 Carolina Barbeque -- Chicago Italian Style Beef (I'm still a Yankee fan) #5 Crepes with Chicken, Spinach, Cheese and Mushrooms Bluesmoke is good but over-priced and too sloppy for a track. Enjoy the blog and your book but I bet WPS on dad's money. Thanks. Moo Mike
Dave or Divot80 More than 1 year ago
Travers Week usually brings longer betting lines. Reminder- use the IRS windows where the lines are much, much shorter. You could make any bets there thus being able to study the board longer. It works! Divot80
jason More than 1 year ago
Steve - do you still take a swing at the double-carryover, even though it's basically all MSW and turf? Can you help us all out and tell us if there is anything in particular you look for to help you choose on the MSW turf races? Thanks for all you do, and helping us who can't make it up to the Spa still enjoy it!
ricbee More than 1 year ago
I had "Mine over Matter",because I was looking for a longshot & liked the mud pedigree.
Sean N More than 1 year ago
I am going to be the contrarian here by saying that the racing is not as bad as it is portrayed by the contributors to this blog. I find the 2YO maiden races on the turf refreshing, especially the two turn races. Del Mar wont even think about carding a 2YO two turn race on the turf. If these races were sprints on the main, the story would be "look at all the future stars on display". I can understand those that want more past performances to sift through, in light of a large carryover. But those races are nothing but non-winners of a race (or two) since (insert date here). Is that what everyone really wants? I do remember the days of the money allowances, but those races were only comprised of mostly 5-6 horse fields. And everyone would complain that they are awful betting races. So, handicapper, how do you want it? For me, I will take full fields and a little bit of intuitive guessing over fields of bad claimers or 5-6 money allowances. It we stay on the turf tomorrow, I will be looking forward the double carryover.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Nancy Pelosi is investigating why Toones is so forthright, appreciative, & philosophical about his equally good & bad luck in Saratoga recently.
dan ticktin More than 1 year ago
steve, any idea why on the nyra site for scratches they don't list off turf distance changes at the spa? Or did I just miss it?