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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.
Needs some parm or prov w/t balls.......The gruelling steeple is NYs. Grand National and do not see that many in the states. Del Pacific, carryover and T. make for interesting weekend. Unless the NYRA peeps are daily players. Like bet and play the 4 and 6 so that they have the scars to match, why would they understand placements and cards? Heck, sorta like gov't devise health plans etc.and never have to partake in it. Well. I nthink we are all turning Hong Kongnese soon...Just don't get stuck in traffic while driving in Mao's town Good Luck to all. No shadenfreudes allowed.
Steve, thanks for the memories with your 4 Travers faves. Loved the replays and calls of those races....I was there, too for all of them although I have missed a few runnings since. Especially remember the Affirmed-Alydar Travers in '78 as it was a blistering hot day at the Spa. I remember Mr Saratoga, Angel Cordero, on Shake, Shake, Shake, might have played a role in Affirmed crowding Alydar on the far turn? My personal fave Travers is my first: 1966 when Ogden Phipps' Buckpasser, Braulio Baeza aboard, came along in the stretch just in time to get the nod.
Remember the Belmont Stakes Day card? The first two races were cheap claimers if memory serves correct. Well the Travers Day card is something to get excited about. I may not be able to pick more than 2 winners in the Pick-6 on Saturday but at least the card is worthy, all 13 long!
Hi Mr. Crist, great article on the Travers. Don't forget that Easy Goer ran the third fastest Travers of all time in 2:00.4, this after Easy Goer had run the second fastest Whitney of all time(up until that point), the second fastest Belmont Stakes of all time, and the fastest 3 yr. old mile of all time in 1:32.2, a tick off Dr. Fager's world record. Two atrocious rides by Day got him beat a nose and desperate neck(it didn't help that he was coming into the Classic off a grueling, historic campaign and a 1 1/2 miles prep going against a very fresh horse in S.S.) in two races, even Day admits his riding was "absolute rider error" and you can find that video interview on youtube called "Easy Goer & Pat Day." But they were both great horses nonetheless.
No, no, no. A THOUSAND times no. The greatest Travers EVER was Willow Hour's 25-1 upset of Pleasant Colony in 1981. Pleasant Colony made a big move on the turn, and drew alongside Willow Hour at the quarter pole, but Willow Hour prevailed as those two gamely ding-donged it, neck-and-neck, down the entire length of the stretch. Even Marshall Cassidy shed his otherwise stately and dignified mien as he watched the battle unfold. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lddMc1JwY9E It was the first major hit I ever had at the track, and made me a lifelong fan, even though the propfit I made in that race has long since been returned to the house. [They're MY favorite Traverses, not necessarily the "greatest" Traverses. -SC]
Thoroughly enjoyed both your Travers columns Steve. A lot of fun to reminisce about great races of the past. My personal favorite memory is the Travers of 1981. Willow Hour improbably holding off the great Pleasant Colony in a muddy stretch long battle. My late father was clutching a $2 across the board ticket on Willow Hour and I never forget thinking I was going to have to call 911 before they got to the wire. Haven't been up for a Travers in some years, just too crowded for me. I've been trying to get Afleet Express to the wire first all week. Think he still has some upside, but if they nibble the ML down a notch or two he's just too short. Should be a heck of a day of racing. Best of luck to all.
Tried to get your attention at the Teletheater on Wednesday, but you were out of there. glad you liked the meatball sub, BEST BET!
Walt P.: We get it. We really really really get it. We git et. Got it? Dale: You should have sent the second man to the men’s room - after advising him that since the Maitre d’ prefers that attractive women enter the dining room first, to have her lead the way in.
Steve: I loved your Travers piece on Holy Bull. I was recovering from cancer surgery when this magnificent horse began his run and I spent several sleepless nights watching replays of his amazing ability. I vowed to go to that year's Travers Stakes if I recovered and did indeed recover and get to go. That Travers was one of the greatest horse races I've ever seen, and Holy Bull in my mind is one of the sport's greatest stars! As a footnote, I also got to see him up close when he took his victory lap at Keeneland after injury forced his untimely retirement. If ever a horse was larger than life, it was Holy Bull. It seemed as if he never touched the ground as he danced around the Keeneland paddock, even though he had suffered that career ending injury. In my mind, Holy Bull represents the best that the sport has to offer.
“They used to be called allowance races but now every maiden winner apparently deserves to be stakes-placed.” Steve (DRF Steve), down the line, can we identify these bogus Sham Stakes “winners” - featured in stud advertisements - with pink type? This evening, with clear skies, there’s a visible coupled entry of the Moon & Jupiter (post position: 1* Aries 02’). The symbol for the distance of the race, an eternal furlong, is “DRF.”