07/25/2008 2:28PM

Day 3: 7/25/08

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3:28 pm: Now this is more like it: Nothing but blue skies and a fast track for Day 3, the first twilight card of the meet.

The apron was packed for the 2:45 pm opener; maybe some of those 12,000 fewer who showed up on Opening Day this year were making their belated debuts. The race, a conditioned claimer went to favored Clemens ($6.40) in 1:10.82. Perhaps The New York Times can launch an investigation into whether Clemens was on anabolic steroids.

The second, an off-the-turf baby race, saw the return of Todd Pletcher to the Saratoga winners' circle with Join in the Dance ($8.80), a 2-year-old who's as nutty as he is fast. He dumped jockey John Velazquez before the start, beat the gate and won box-to-wire in 1:04.29, then tried to jump the rail while being pulled up. The Sky Mesa-Dance Darling (Devil's Bag) colt was privately purchased after a pair of seconds at Churchill and Arlington.

5:45 pm: If Hamsa and Mushka were prepping for the Alabama in today's third race, Music Note and Proud Spell probably don't have much to worry about. The two stakes runners ran 2nd and 3rd behind an undistinguished 4-year-old So Glitzy in a slow nin-furlong allowance race, though neither was helped by a very slow pace.

Hamsa looked like she had the race won after drawing even in midstretch with So Glitzy, who had stalked Iron Butterfly's pokey 25.00, 49.81 and 1:14.47. But So Glitzy rerallied at the rail to prevail by a nose. Mushka, the Empire Maker-Sluice filly making her first start since winning the Demoiselle Nov. 24, was a close fourth early, bottled up behind the slow leaders, but came up empty late. At least Mushka can be expected to improve, given the difficulty of winning at nine furlongs on the dirt off a nine-month layoff.

So Glitzy ($38.40) prompted another big early pick-4, combining with 3-1, 4-1 and 2-1 winners in the surrounding races for a $9,348 payoff.

The late pick-four kicked off with the most contested stretch run of the meeting, with 8-5 Real Estate, 11-1 Aquino and 2-1 Visible Truth slugging it out to the wire before finishing noses apart in that order. Real Estate, a 4-year-old High Yield colt who won his last start after surrendering the lead in the stretch, did it again today after an impressive burst of early speed that carried him through fractions of 21.98 and 44.76, and a final time of 1:09.38.

7:45 pm: My Princess Jess ($6.10) came up the rail to collar Alwajeeha to win the G2 Lake George, the first grass race of the meeting. If you're looking for clues about how soft the turf might be for tomorrow's Diana and three other scheduled grass races, the results were ambiguous: While the final time of 1:44.00 was nearly four full seconds slower than Rutherienne's 1:40.34 on a hard course last year, the final five-sixteenths were actually faster this year -- 29.41 vs. 29.69. So was the course itself all that slower or was this year's running just super-slow paced?

There were two inquiries after the Lake George, and in my opinion the stewards were correct in leaving My Princess Jess up instead of disqualifying her for undeniable but insignificant contact with the tiring early leader, Stealin' Kisses. They also looked at possibly taking down Receipt from 4th after Alan Garcia steered her into the path of favored Mousse au Chocolat, forcing the latter to clip heels, but left it alone.

Mousse au Chocolat was ruined at the start, when the French filly lingered in the gate and spotted the field half a dozen lengths. She got herself back into the race and made a menacing move into contention around the turn, but began to sputter and was backing up even before the incident with Receipt.

Got myself alive in the late pick-4 to some vastly overlaid potential payoffs but was far too clever to use the obvious favorite Sashay Renee, a $7.10 winner of the finale who completed a $705 sequence. The serious wagering begins tomorrow, and I'll be handicapping the 11-race card at Siro's with Andy Serling starting at 10:45 a.m.

Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Race 3 Saturday 26JUL Open Sleigh: Managed to finish 3rd while going wide and getting bothered on the turf at 7 furlongs, Belmont May 24. Then showed nothing at 1 1/16 at Belmont on June 21. Finished 3rd at Saratoga on Aug. 11, 2007. Interesting.
chisox More than 1 year ago
Couldn't agree more with Jay Privman's comments on polytrack. It was music to my ears and hopefully influential people in the industry will speak out against it.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Coa did nothing wrong. Of course otb patrons were up in arms, for the most part otb's are filled with clueless people who do not understand the game.
Rutgers More than 1 year ago
I am not in favor of the rush and mandates to go to synthetic tracks. However, I do people many are making a mountain out of a mole hill. First of all, to call a conventional dirt track Mother Earth is stretching it. Most "dirt" tracks have very little dirt in them. (Dirt does not take water very well, it turns to mud.) The surfaces at all major US tracks are modern day man made engineering projects that belong on an episode of "Modern Marvels". The Saratoga surface Man of War ran over is nothing like the surface of today. Nor would you want it to be, sometimes it would take days for the track to dry out. Today a difference between a track playing fast or slow is 1 to 2 seconds, it use to be 5 or 6 seconds. Try making par times, speed/pace figures and handicapping under those conditions. Tracks eventually evolved into the surfaces that we have today. Along the way horseplayers adjusted their handicapping along the way.(some quicker than others) The same thing will happen with the synthetics, it is just that the change happen more quickly.
Larry Thiel More than 1 year ago
Polytrack's not going away. The politician's want it, and it's going to be everywhere. I've had more success at Arlington this summer than I've had in 20 years. I commented earlier this year, that you can be part of the crowd and complain about it, or you can figure it out and make a fortune before anybody else figures it out.
Travers More than 1 year ago
Hey Bernie, Where did your statement about grass racing come from? "Horses, certainly good horses, should only ever race on grass." I am having a hard time understanding where you are coming from on this one. If we recognize a good horse on dirt should we immediately move it to turf than? Or do you feel as though a horse is not good, or proven, until they run and win on grass? Certainly you have to see that true champions can be found on any surface. Or is this a statement about safety? Do you believe the only safe surface to run on is grass? I would have to strongly disagree with you on this one as well. Anyways, I guess before I argue with you too much over your statement I will allow you to explain what you meant by it. I look forward to your response.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Merchant Marine is very interesting to me in the Whitney. It doesn't seem like 2 turns is his game, but the big move and hang in his last combined with the cutback today has me thinking. Student Council (a $ maker for me) and Commentator are the only Gr.1 winners in the field...does Callejas' horse have a shot in the 11th today? He has sent 2 nice priced horses who hit the board so far at the meet.
beerbelly More than 1 year ago
SAT SPA Pedigree Musings: RACE 3 Mott's firster #8 INTERCOASTAL is bred to be a Champion. In addition to DYNAFORMER as sire & PLEASANT COLONY as BMS the tail female family is very classy. 3rd dam won the Diana Handicap. The 4th Dam has been bestowed the title of "Reine-de-Course".. Queen of the Turf in terms of producing stakes winners. The 5th Dam is also a Blue hen who produced the Champion Miler ZILZAL & WAVERING MONARCH. Race 2 #5 POINTING HOME has very classy tail female family that produced the likes of Southern Halo, General Challenge, Sir Beaufort, Snow Dance & AP Valentine. Probably needs a longer distance but should be flying in the stretch making him worthy of tri & super inclusion. Busting Stone's defection makes the two remaining speeds dangerous in the 8th. Happy hunting all.
bob m. More than 1 year ago
great weather day at spa yesterday... ran 2nd 3 races in a row with fairly large win bets on aquino (10-1) war ruler (5-1) and alwajeeha (8-1)... thank fully still ended up around even for the day with savers etc.. i agreed with stewards on the feature even though i clearly would have benefitted.. looking forward to great whitney day..
TOM D. More than 1 year ago
Gee Mike check out D.Waynes comments about the non-dq call. Is he clueless as well? The point D. Wayne and everyone is upset about is they lack consistency.