08/26/2010 1:51PM

Day 30: 8/26/10


SARATOGA SPRINGS --- The first three races of Day 30 were about as entertaining as a 19-furlong steeplechase, a six-horse claimer and a three-horse stakes race can be.

In the opener, the longest (and longest-named) race of the meeting, last year's runner-up Sermon of Love won the New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap to give trainer Jonathan Sheppard his 13th NYTWCSH. It was also Sheppard's third straight 1-2 finish in a jump race at the meet as his uncoupled entrymate Arcadius ran second. (Coupled entrymate Divine Fortune ran fourth, giving him a 1-2-4 finish in a race where only 5 of the 8 starters finished the race.)

The entertainment came from watching Swagger Stick nearly wire the field. The big nearly-white 9-year-old Cozzene gelding, not the smoothest jumper, went right to the front, almost tripped over the eighth fence, and improbably was still leading after the final hurdle before being nailed by the Sheppard pair in the last of the 19 furlongs.

In the 2nd, Rick Dutrow got just his fifth winner of the meeting and two of them have come from El Real Madrid -- in the last four days. The 5-year-old son of Boundary was actually making his third start in the last eight days: He ran second by a neck on the grass last Wednesday, won Monday's nightcap in the slop for $20k, and scored again today against $25k claimers after just two days of rest. As he crossed the wire, Tom Durkin said "The amazing, resilient El Real Madrid has just won for the second time.....this week!"

The third was another one of these completely unnecessary "stakes" races for New York-bred 2-year-olds who have mostly made one start. They used to be called allowance races but now every maiden winner apparently deserves to be stakes-placed. Yesterday we had the five-filly Ann Calre Stakes, and today it was a three-colt High Rock Springs Stakes. Never Right Joey was sent off at 0.25-to-1 against two other maiden winners, but 9-2 Freuds Ana Streak made a race of it, collaring NRJ in midstretch before being outfinished by three-quarters of a length. Freuds Ana Streak, turned over to trainer Rudy Rodriguez after winning one of three starts at Finger Lakes with a top Beyer of 47, almost made his wonder-trainer 18-for-35 with horses making their first start for him this year.

Only now heading off for vittles as I was finishing a Travers column. It's "San Gennaro Day" at Saratoga today for some reason, so maybe I'll try to get in the spirit of things and find something swimming in red sauce. Full report soon.


3:45 pm: Very sleepy. Those were three very big meatballs. And pretty darn good.

I now see why people have been touting me on the Hot Meatball Sub from the ontrack restaurant Row outpost of Brindisi's (390 Broadway). At $5.50, it's a steal next to the $6.75 milkshakes and $13.00 seafood wraps found elsewhere. The three enormous four-to-six-bite spheres are as much lunch as any human should require, with or without the boat of bread and sauce enveloping them. And extra credit for swaddling the whole thing with a sturdy plate and enough tinfoil to wrap it all up and keep it hot till you get back to your seat.

Very solid if not particularly savory: B+. 


5:50 pm: An unexpected $67,794 carryover into Friday's Travers Eve card after 11-1 Phipps/McGaughey Boisterous romped in the nightcap. Today, being Thursday, there was a $100k guaranteed pool, and for a fifth straight Thursday NYRA was spared ponying up anything, though just barely: The pool was $108k. There were 24 live combos into the last race but none on Boisterous.

The Friday sequence, starting with the 5th on a 10-race card, includes five out of six on the grass including the G2 Bernard Baruch Handicap, where Get Stormy is 9-5 in a field of eight.