08/31/2009 12:48PM

Day 30: 8/31/09


12:45 pm: Four of today's five scheduled Saratoga turf races remain on the grass with only the 7th switched to the main track and the 10th moved from the inner to the Mellon.

The afternoon's stakes fare is a pair of nine-furlong races for fillies -- the $70k Mollie Wilmot for open company and the $112k Saratoga Dew for statebreds. Sea Chanter, who would have been odds-on the Wilmot, instead ran (7th) yesterday in the Personal Ensign. In her absence, Platinum looks odds-on.

Here's a startling stat: When With Flying Colors, Sea Chanter and Unbridled Belle brought up the rear yesterday in the Personal Ensign, they extended Todd Pletcher's record in New York Grade 1 stakes to 0-for-43 over the last 23 months. The streak began with Lawyer's Ron's narrow defeat to Curlin in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 30, 2007, an afternoon when Pletcher had won the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic with English Channel and the G1 Beldame with Unbridled Belle in the two preceding races.

Of those 43 starters, only five were 2-1 or less, including Munnings and Quality Road last Saturday.

In all fairness, the streak includes the disqualification from 1st to 2nd of Harlem Rocker in the 2008 Cigar Mile, and those 43 starters do include six seconds and nine thirds. Also, he has won eight Grade 1 races outside of New York during that time, including the 2007 Breeders' Cup Turf with English Channel, and this year's Princess Rooney (Game Face) and Secretariat (Take the Points.)

4:30 pm: Just not feeling it today, so treading lightly with minimal action. Put $240 into the early pick-4 and had only a buck of it, so got back $226.50 for a net loss of $13.50. (I went three-deep in the Mollie Wilmot, not being sold on Platinum, who jogged at 1-2.) Put $240 into the late pick-4 with a sloppy caveman play (1,5,10,[13]/1,3,7,11/1,5,6,9/2,3,4,5,6) just to give myself a reason to watch the last few.

Meanwhile, Linda Rice re-tied Pletcher at 15 in the trainer standings after winning the 6th with Sigmondo.

If you can't tell, I'm tired and lazy today. I attribute it to HFCSWS -- Hattie's fried-chicken-sandwich withdrawal syndrome. I tried a Tendergrill from the local Burger King. It was like drinking Champale.

5:40 pm: Obviously one shouldn't handicap while suffering from the mind-numbing effects of HFCSWS. The only good news: 1)I kept my handle low and 2)We've got a $45k carryover, regardless of who wins the Week 5 nightcap, and a dark day to rest up for it.

Good luck if you're alive in the pick-4, where the smallest payoff is $9k for $2 and there's probably only one dollar alive to #4, Absolute Return (to whom I gave a small shot off his off-the-page 2008 grass form.) If he wins, the payoff will be posted as $413,624 but I'm pretty sure that's a single $1 ticket. 

6:03 pm: I don't want to jinx anything, but it's 6:01 pm and there's still horse racing instead of the scheduled "Parliamo Italiano" on the Nassau OTB channel. Same thing happened yesterday. Is it too soon to raise a toast to Nassau OTB?.

6:10 pm: Congrats to commenter iron frog, whose three live horses in the pick-4 included narrow post-time favorite Jamaludin, who held off second choice Ruff and Ready for a $10,410 for $2 payoff. I'm sure he'd be even happier if it had paid $411 less, so there would be no tax withholding on a $1 ticket, but it beats losing.

C More than 1 year ago
Pat, "Great" horses are most often only appreciated years later when they are retired. The ones that are recognized as "great" during their time are usually the ones that display a ton of "heart" in a gritty fight to the wire on a big stage against other good horses (Ouija Board, Ghostzapper, Personal Ensign, Tiznow, Invasor, even Zenyatta). However, a flashy runner who destroys supposedly weak fields and comes within a tick of Secretariat's track record is considered overhyped. Maybe Rachel has never been in a dogfight because nobody is good enough to give her one. Maybe that'll happen on Saturday, maybe it won't. BTW, if she hasn't beaten anybody, who has Summer Bird beaten? I don't think it's blasphemous to compare RA to a filly like Ruffian. In fact, IF she wins the Woodward impressively (and that's a big if, there are no gimmes in this game), I would challenge that she's had one of the most impressive 3YO campaigns of any thoroughbred in the modern era. If she cruises in the Woodward, it would not be crazy to say she could be the most dominant 3YO since Secretariat.
durkin_fan More than 1 year ago
bud_pettingill comment about first time starters wearing blinkers is dead on. This information is a must have. Its very hard to watch post parades and sometimes you still can't tell if a horse has blinkers or not with the poor quality tv's and bad camera work. But these same first time starters are reported to be "first time lasix". If they feel its necessary to tell you they are first time lasix why isn't it required that they are "blinkers on" as well. I believe I have seen this info posted at Woodbine though. So frustrating!
pat More than 1 year ago
Steve, I've been listening to the The Ruffian V Rachel comparisons the last few months and I'm sure that they will only intensify in the coming weeks. Rachel is an outstanding Filly and I will be rooting for her this weekend, but she will never be as great as Ruffian. I along with alot of friends, spent the better part of the 70's-80's hanging around Belmont racetrack- I was at all of Ruffian's races except for the Monmouth Run. Everyone fell in love with her right away- she was a beautiful, black amazon of a horse that flew around the racetrack. She had an understated trainer and jockey and she did all the talking with her hooves. Just to see her standing still being hosed off after a workout was a breathtaking sight. The possibilities were endless- her career was a meteor- she was going to take us all on a ride to a place that we've never seen. And then she was gone. She never gave up-never gave an inch- she fought and fought til she was no longer with us. If you had the privlidge to see Ruffian you know exactly what I'm talking about- there will never be another like her, not because of her wins or blazing speed or track records or black beautiful coat but because she let us dream of what could be and she showed us that going all out 100% of the time and never ever giving in are remarkable qualities. The people who saw her will never forget her. I know many people including my brothers who all still have portraits of Ruffian in their office's- (the Alonso one is a great print) I still carry around a match race button thats been in my workcase for 25+ years. Alot of great fillies have come along since and alot more will come after today, but my enduring image of that beautiful, black filly speeding down the stretch will never allow me to believe that anyone is as Great as Ruffian. BTW- when I pop in some of my old horse tapes, I know that Forego is gonna nip Pleasure on the wire, but to this day I still think that if I play it enough, Jorge is gonna get his head down in front of Steve...Regards- Pat
IronFrog More than 1 year ago
Downtown is way too expensive for a week - I've rented a cottage the last two years at Saratoga Lake during Travers Week. You can get a decent two bedroom in the $750 - $1,000 range. Judging from all the "For Rent" signs I saw, many were available. Google Adirondack / Saratoga vacation rentals and you'll get to the sites.
Shoop More than 1 year ago
Steve, Not to get off the subject, but as written on the website "A commission hearing on the case was held July 21, and the panel disqualified It's a Bird and ordered the winning purse of $300,000 redistributed. They also fined the horse's trainer, Marty Wolfson, $500." Not making a judgement on the guilt or not, wouldn't $500 for the caretaker of a winning horse of a 300K race be a bit light? Seriously, that is nothing. Just a piggyback on the symposium you presented. Yes, the purse might be gone, but is the risk mitigated? Thanks.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Bernard Downes: lets make a deal. I get you Sar tickets and you get me Arsenal tickets. Are you in London? The caveat is that I must see them before the weather changes and their sexy game turns to mush, as it always does... Steve, I am nearing the break even mark for the meet thanks to a P4 hit yesterday (no, not the big one that IronFrog hit--nice score dude--but the first P4). My one theory was this: Linda Rice has got to be running out of bullets in that holster soon. Her 3/2 chalk went down in that sequence. Ofcourse she won the 6th so take that theory with a grain...Seriously though, she hasn't the largest stable in NY and she is getting hammered at the windows, so I will try to beat her at underlaid odds the last 6 days of the meet.
Michael Thomas More than 1 year ago
Your acronym for Hattie's sandwich, if said a certain way, sort of sounds like a sneeze. Just saying.
Ernie More than 1 year ago
The Pletcher stat is astonishing. Toss in the Florida Derby for bitter measure. I almost feel bad for him!
KY Crusader 75 More than 1 year ago
Iron Frog-- Congratulations on your big hit! With your three horses at 6.7-1, 2.8-1, and 12.7-1, and allowing for the takeout, you had enough of the pool covered (46.6%)to hedge with win pool bets. There was 73.2% of the odds remaining as the line adds up to about 120% to allow for the takeout. Assuming that your bets would not affect the odds, you could have bet $7,617 to guarantee a return of $10,410 on each of the 7 remaining entries, from a $2,704 win bet on Ruff and Reddy at 2.85-1 to a $176 win bet on Kris Angel at 58.25-1. Let's assume your brilliant Pick 4 cost $ 380; you would thus have invested $8,000 for a guaranteed $10,400. Then there are the taxes but that's a whole different issue. I have an excel file that makes these calculations easy. Of course, as a practical matter I would not have had the excel sheet with me at the track nor would I have $ 7,617 in my pocket..... As a rule of thumb, you can calculate what you have covered with your live entries (6.7 to 1 = 1/7.7 = 13% for example), subtract from 120%, and determine if it's worth hedging. If your live entries are favorites, say, 8-5, 3-1, and 5-1, you can really lock in a big payout. In this example you'd have all but 39.9% of the pool covered and could guarantee that $10,400 payout with $4,155 of win bets: voila a nearly $6,000 net win guaranteed. I hope you hit a bigger one soon!
Terry F More than 1 year ago
Steve, have you ever had a bad experience at Hattie's? I tried the fried chicken sandwich twice this season after reading about it on CristBlog. My first one (about 2-3 weeks ago) was good, but the one I had yesterday was poor -- the chicken was gristly and dark, the coleslaw was limp and the roll was almost stale. Blech!