08/23/2010 1:18PM

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.