08/25/2008 1:50PM

Day 30: 8/25/08


1:45 pm: It's an interesting and playable Monday card at Saratoga, especially if you like to guess about things like 2-year-olds trying the grass and first-time starters in maiden-claiming races. Not my cup of hemlock, but I fooled around with the early pick-4 for some light entertainment.

Bruce Levine swept the early double with a pair of much-the-best winning favorites, giving him seven for the meet. He's got a serious statebred sprinter in Driven by Sucess ($3.10), who improved on his Aug. 6 maiden victory here with a 15 3/4-length rout in a sparkling 1:14.97 for 6.5f. In the second, Five Star Chowdair ($6.00), second to the very impressive Pletcher-trained statebred 2F Paradise Playgirl in her debut, led all the way to win by 7 3/4 lengths in 1:04.38. When's the last time a trainer swept the daily double ($9.90) by a combined 23 1/2 lengths?

I was too tired to get involved in that juicy Pacific Classic card at Del Mar last night, and like everyone else am still waiting to hear what in the world happened to Midnight Lute. The reigning champion sprinter could not have come into his comeback in the G1 Pat O'Brien any better. His last four works were bullets -- best-of-85, best-of-62 and best-of-60 blowouts, and a track-record-equalling 7f in 1:21 3/5. But he was uncomfortable in the gate, backed out, put back in, and then neglected to run a step at any point in the race. Perhaps he had a recurrence of the chronic breathing problems that have required three throat surgeries, but this was one of the most baffling non-efforts of the season. [Update: Jay Privman reports Midnight Lute "tore up the back part of his left front foot."]

And congrats to Bill Mott for breaking out his 2-for-50 Saratoga nightmare with Go Between's victory in the Pacific Classic. Winning a $1 million race makes up for a lot of losers around the barn. But I do think Mott's record at this meet, and the reaction to it or lack thereof, reflects a rather uneven treatment of individuals that says more about our expectations and prejudices than the actual source and significance of trainers' slumps.

A year ago, when Todd Pletcher was something like 4-for-50 early in the meet, it was a dominant topic of discussion, and nefarious accusations were being publicly hurled every day about veterinary and pharmacological matters. Mott's runaway victory in the trainer's race was widely hailed as some sort of triumph of natural horsemanship. This year, Pletcher is back on top and Mott is having a much, much worse Saratoga than Pletcher did a year ago, but everyone's just saying, Poor Bill's having an unlucky meet.

I'm not suggesting that anyone should be saying anything different: Mott is universally well-liked for good reason, and has earned every bit of the goodwill and benefit-of-the-doubt he's receiving. Like Pletcher a year ago, I think it's primarily a matter of a)random distribution of results and b)a slow-developing or substandard group of 2-year-olds. But can you imagine what people would be speculating about if Pletcher, Steve Asmussen or Rick Dutrow were 2-for-50 at this meet?

2:30 pm: The usual mess when there's a part-of-entry gate scratch occurred when Zito firster Golden Jungle, coupled with second-timer Brave Victory, was scratched at the post. Brave Victory ran for purse money only, pick-4 players got switched to the new post-time favorite, and there was a baffling array of conso doubles and pick-3's and refund doubles and pick-3's. Perhaps a very loud tape recording of Tom Durkin's laborious explanation of all the permutations could be played on a loop for members of the State Racing and Wagering Board at their next meeting until these rules are rewritten.

At least it all ended happily for those who were switched, as McLaughlin firster Regal Ransom ($4.10) became the favorite and won in a very impressive debut, beating the talented Brave Victory by half a length in 1:22.42, excellent time for a debuting 2-year-old. The Distorted Humor colt was purchased as a 2yo-in-training for $675k by Darley.

4:00 pm: Goodday($4.30) and Maram ($17.00) completed a $177 pick-4 that almost got me even for my $180 investment thanks to having it for the whole $2 due to the gate scratch. Big-time gambling: Minus $3 after the first half of the card.

Goodday, privately purchased out of a winning July 17 Del Mar maiden-claimer and turned over to Dutrow, was bet like she couldn't lose the $80k Vichy Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies, but barely survived a staggering finish and a stewards' inquiry. Runner-up Akilina may have been bothered late but the result stood after the Good and Tough filly ran the six furlongs in 1:11.34.

In the 5th, Chad Brown ran his record at the meet to 13: 5-3-0 when Sahm firster Maram came running late to win this 2yo maiden turfer in 1:42.49. The 6th, a $35kN2L scramble for older turf fillies, ended in a blanket finish with second-choice Princess Westly just holding off 7-5 favorite High Draw. Longshots Adorable You and Maggie's Miracle ran 3rd and 4th to blow up a $21.20 exacta into a $4,440 superfecta.

6:45 pm:While I was out with the hounds, we got ourselves a little $55k carryover into Wednesday. No bombs, but a tough sequence and it looks like half the field was covered in the finale, and the shortest one who wasn't was Ultimate Event ($13.60), second of the day and sixth of the meet for Chad Brown.

In the featured $80k Saratoga Dew Stakes, Talking Treasure did what horses used to do at Saratoga: Win a sprint stakes early in the meet and come back and win a route later on. A 5 3/4-length winner of the Fleet Indian at 7f July 30, Talking Treasure ($4.00) scored by 1 3/4 lengths today over 19-1 Aristo, withe second choice (and last year's winner) Ice Cool Kitty another 1 1/4 back in third after nine furlongs in 1:51.52. Talking Treasure, a Ramsey homebred by Catienus and trained by charlton Baker, now sports a flashy 13: 7-4-0 record.

Five weeks down, one to go, with Curlin in the Woodward, plus the Forego, Hopeful and Spinaway still ahead.

Jim F More than 1 year ago
Responding to C, The answer to your question is no. I do not bet pick 4's or 6's when I like part of an entry. My comment was directed to the purse only rule. I certainly second your request to abolish all entries.
sero More than 1 year ago
Steve, Can't tell you enough what a great job coupled with all the time you have put into this blog has meant to all of us. Your insight, comedy, celebration, and torture is greatly appreciated. Not to mention all of the contributors and silent viewers as well. Toones aka "good life", Reminds me of a classic Harvey Pack story: "have a good life kid" ...what an easy game...isn't it! lol Andyscoggin, It's too bad you got knocked out....we were rooting for you. The competition does wear on you mentally and consumes you the longer it continues. It seems it is all you think about day in and day out. One dimensional speed types are a tough take unless they appear to tower over the field and can still hit the board. I didn't buy into the Indyanne Calder figure but she appeared to have enough talent(barring the break) to hit the board compared to the competition. The Ballerina didn't appear to be that type of situation. Who am I to talk, I lost most of my entries in 2 days when rushing (preoccupied) at the last minute getting closed out at the deadline and than checking the wrong horse (musca instead of mushka) the following day which made me lose complete interest. It seems like there is a lot more checking boxes than in previous SHOWdowns in which one(me) should give themselves more time. On to the Belmont SHOWdown. Sherpaguide, I agree with you. In that type of situation if its the 1st leg of a "run for purse money only" situation a refund should result. However, if the 1st leg has already started, the only viable solution I see is to allow a designated alternate selection or a consolation provided you have the other winners. I actually lucked out on last years Travers card (early pk4) and can clearly understand being on the other side of the fence because the current rules are almost criminal cheating the public of what they are entitled too. Hope everyone is having a good meet. This camper still has six days to get out.
081305 More than 1 year ago
I read this blog A LOT, but rarely comment. Two brief points if I may: 1) [Perhaps some trainers] had the services of a particular vet at the last Spa meeting, but no longer, 2) Lewis Michael should be considered a serious threat for the BC Classic this year
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
morris_fink and everybody else Here is my daily selection for the meet in all its miserable detail: http://home.comcast.net/~dan.mackenzie/Saratoga_Selections2008.htm Win, Place or Show it's a negative, but I'll be at Saratoga 3 days this week because I love the sport and have been a fan since I was a 12-year-old kid in East Boston who climbed over the fence to get into Suffolk Downs. If Dubai is the last place on earth still racing thoroughbreds when I'm 80 years old, then that's where I'll go to play out the string.
bob m. More than 1 year ago
travers weekend was beautiful weather, great times with friends (we have about 22 in our group) and my worst travers weekend ever financially... lost 26 straight races from thursday 7th thru all 12 on travers day.. got taken down with knife and fork, had 100 to win on cardiff road at 23-1 only to run second to 40-1 missinglisalewis.. followed that with a 100 win bet on tizzy and he ran second at 11-1 and it got worse from there. for the first time in 15 year i did not go back for sunday as i was mentally shot.. however, it is now tuesday and i am planning on going up from thursday to sunday and finish up strong.. i will have made 14 racing days live this year, less than the last few years but acceptable.. i need to win about 4k to break even for the meet and i hope to do that and more... good luck to all in the last week at the SPAAAAA
Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
Steve- The difference between Mott and Asmussen, Dutrow (and even Pletcher) is that they've been caught and given days for illegal medication-in fact Asmussen is now fighting a pretty serious "bad test" in Texas now, and I can't remember any "bad tests" (although I'm sure there have been minor overages) for Bill Mott.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Hey Buffalo Joe: did you just use the words 'TVG' and 'excellent' in the same sentence? You must only watch their coverage of Cali tracks. They tape delayed R8 from SAR yesterday for no reason at all, causing me to miss a nice exacta ($128). Don't bother calling or emailing because TVG does not respond to any correspondence whatsoever. My account with them is now closed as a result...I beg all of you who do business with them to do the same. If it ain't Cali racing it gets 2nd class citizen treatment...RIDICULOUS!!!
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
Sherpa, that sucks, but it is one of the considerations that need to be taken into account when singling an entry as I found out the hard way a few years back. Toones, you broke the golden rule (aka Harvey Pack rule), "don't bet a horse as a favorite trying to do something it has never done before" and cashed anyway proving rules are meant to be broken. Congrats. Morris, lighten up, if we only spoke of our losers this would be an awfully depressing blog.
mike More than 1 year ago
Kevin, No one is dominating the SPA trainers meet, it's totally kinda even. Pletcher for one is not sending out a bunch who are running their eyeballs out like 2 years ago and back. How do you know which trainers are honest? ... It could not be that this year Mott's horses are a slow bunch and have been getting some trips, could it? It's popular for some to think that every time certain trainers win, it's drugs. The fact is that NY Racing now has very sophisticated drug testing. If someone is using an illegal undetectable drug at the SPA, it is not apparent to any informed eyes. At Monmouth, it's simply a case of sending horses over to race against inferior runners, like beating up on the Sisters of the Poor. Bruce Levine, by design, with an owner decided before the meet to feast on the slow bunch at Monmouth, easy pickings, smart business.All the NY trainers at Monmouth will tell you it's much easier competition there than racing at Belmont or the SPA. Mike
BC Question More than 1 year ago
Follow up to my last post, found this- http://www.oaktreeracing.com/bc/?section=generalinfo Post time on Friday - 11:10am - 2:10pm est Post time on Saturday - 10:10am - 1:10pm est