07/31/2009 10:50AM

Day 3: 7/31/09

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10:50 am: Late-night and early-morning rain has washed all grass races except the featured Lake George (for now) off the turf. Races 1, 3, 4 and 9 will be run on the main track, which is currently listed as sealed/sloppy. First post is 2:30 pm. 


2:08 pm: It's still raining and they just announced that the G2 Lake George is off the grass along with the four other previously switched turf races. Think I'll be rooting for a double-carryover instead of playing today's slopfest.


3:10 pm: The Lake George is now down to a field of four: Be Fair, Mary's Follies, Consequence and The Best Day Ever.

The weather also knocked out the NYRA signal until just before the first race, thus the unavailability of "Talking Horses."


4:00 pm: The rain's still coming down and I can't make heads or tails of the racing over it, so instead of playing the pick-6 that's starting in 9 minutes, I'll tell you about last night's first 2009 Saratoga restaurant outing, okay?

I used to be a semi-regular at The Wishing Well but perhaps because I associated it so strongly with eve-of-meeting dinners with the late Joe Hirsch, I slacked off when Joe stopped coming up to Saratoga a few years ago. But I was in desperate need of a wholesome meal last night after two days of hurriedly eating convenience-store swill (even this man can not live by Easy Mac and peanut-butter pretzels alone), and one of Joe's good friends suggested an outing to The Wishing Well, which is about a 10-minute drive due north of the track up route 9. WishingwellEven with a reservation on the historically slowest night of the meeting, it took nearly half an hour for a table to open up, but it was well worth an entirely pleasant wait at the lively bar.

The Wishing Well has been around since 1936, run during most of that time by the late Bob Lee and his wife, Brenda, who continues to greet new arrivals. It's an older but lively crowd, heavy on horsemen and horseplayers, and nearly every overheard conversation was about the day's injustices and triumphs at the races. The cocktails are generous and a pair of them went for $13.50.

When you're seated, the first thing they do is bring out a big plate of sliced local tomatoes, and when you finish it they bring you another. The menu doesn't take long to read and you don't need anything translated. The Wishing Well is where you go for a steak or a lobster tail, not for anything with a shiitake infusion. You get baked or creamed potatoes and an iceberg salad with your steak or crustacean, and as much corn on the cob as I could have eaten were that delicacy not still on the forbidden list for recent dental-impant patients. Following Joe's perpetual advice that "Dessert wouldn't hurt a baby," I ordered the strawberry shortcake he used to favor and can report it was as good as ever. The damage for two was a very reasonable $140 for two drinks, cold-seafood appetizers, the aforementioned steak and lobster, plus coffee and dessert. I'll be back more often.


4:30 pm:  Chad Brown firster Kid Kate, third choice at 9-2, ran down 11-1 Taconic Victory to take the first leg of the pick-6 with $34k carryover. The first two finishers in the  5.5f off-the-turfer for 2-year-old fillies were homebreds making their debuts: Kid Kate (by Lemon Drop Kid) for Dell Ridge Farm, Taconic Victory for the same Willmott Stables/Hennig connections that raced her first-crop sire, Eddington (Unbridled).


6:15 pm: The sun came back about 15 minutes ago, too late to do anything about the very sloppy track. Be Fair took the off-the-turf Lake George in a gutsy effort, leading all the way, turning back what looked like a winning challenge in upper stretch from Mary's Follies, and drawing off to beat the favorite by four lengths.

Looks like there are pool-scooping pick-6 tickets alive to 4 of the 11 still in the finale -- the 9,10,14 and 15 -- for a $126k payout. Otherwise, that's the carryover for tomorrow.


7:05 pm: And the winner was....otherwise. Attractive Ride wore down favored Icetate in the final yards to capture the nightcap and give us a $126,281 double-carryover into the first Saturday of the meet. A horrible, horrible beat for whoever was alive to Icetate to take down the pool. My condolences.

Weather and signal permitting, I'll be in the Carousel at 11:45 tomorrow to go through the card on "Talking Horses" with Andy Serling and Jason Blewitt. It doesn't look easy, but what fun would that be?