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Day 31: 8/27/10
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Today I'm going to be that annoying guy who kibitzes a Pick-6 carryover race by race without actually playing it. I haven't seriously handicapped today's 10 races and am going to put my time into tomorrow's 13-race Travers card and Sunday's 11 including Rachel Alexandra's return.
The Friday sequence, scheduled to begin with the 5th race at 3 pm and a one-day carryover of $67k, includes five grass races and a field of seven (scratch Nownownow)in the G2 Bernard Baruch Handicap. I don't know why they even bother making it a handicap any more, as there's virtually no handicap turf racing in this country and the weight spreads -- a range of just 114 to 118 today -- are so small. Get Stormy, who has won 6 of his last 7 including a G2 and two G3's is the highweight at 118, just two pounds more than Sudden War, a loser of five straight who has never won more than a N2x allowance race.
Get Stormy is the 9-5 ML favorite but might be worth trying to beat today, for two reasons. The turf course has a lot more give to it after the rain earlier this week than when he won the FOurstardave here Aug. 1 in a scorching 1:39.09 for 8.5f. also, today's race is half a furlong farther than Get Stormy has tried in his 15 career starts. Baletti, who looked good winning the Fort Marcy two back and the classy veteran Whatsthescript seem the likeliest upsetters.
3:30 pm: Let the kibitzing begin. (And sorry for the earlier misspelling of "kibbitz" -- turns out it's kibbutz with two b's but kibitz with just one. Who knew? It has also been pointed out to me that I have been consistently misspelling "aficianado" with two f's.)
Leg 1(race 5): Excited ($9.80). How'd he pay that much? I woulda singled him! No, seriously, this Tabor/Pletcher/Giant's Causeway firster was obviously well-backed at 7-2 against 9-5 Mott second-timer Erma Lee and McPeek fourth-timer Tiz My Time, who was third of 22 in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. Other than tickets singling one of those two, hard to believe Excited knocked out too many plays. Think that makes THIRTEEN 2-year-old winners at the meet for Pletcher.
On to the 6th, a treacherous-looking $16k conditioned claimer where Tall Poppi has opened the 5-2 favorite in a field of 11.
4:00 pm: Stealth Missile ($19.20) was one of my favorite moves -- the old route-to-7f-sprint turnback (in his case after 14 consecutive starts at a mile or more) -- but this was almost certainly a spread race for everyone so an 8-1 sixth choice isn't a knockout horse.
4:45 pm: Peahi? Peahi?? I know we're only halfway through it but I'm calling a double-carryover. Sent off as the 8th choice in a field of nine, Peahi lulled the opposition to sleep creeping through six furlongs in 1:13.13 and kept on going. I couldn't have used him if I'd gone six deep. Maybe seven.
4:57 pm: Favored Counterspy a late scratch in the 8th. If you used him in the pick-4 or pick-6 you're probably getting switched to Jockey ridge (now the 5-2 fave with 1 MTP.)
5:05 pm: Yup, you got switched to 2-1 Jockey Ridge, who missed by a head to Spanish Fortune, who paid $8.70 as the second chice but for p-4/p-6 purposes was more like 4-1 as the third choice.
Lunch note: Working from the house today so no ontrack dining review, but a good opportunity to share and plug a little-known gem (with free delivery!) that I've probably ordered 100 meals from over the last decade: The Spring Street Deli and Pizzeria (132 Spring Street). You can choose from 24 subs, 11 salads, 19 pizza toppings, seven vegetarian choices, 11 eccentric "house pies" and 17 sandwiches that are named for famous races horses ranging from the Seabiscuit (blackened chicken, bacon, cheddar, cajun mayo) to the Behrens (steak with provolone, red peppers, red onion and A-1) and my personal favorite, the Alysheba (open-faced turkey with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce.) Sorry, forgot to take a picture of it before consuming.
5:45 pm: Get Stormy ($3.80) got a target to run as National Kid outsprinted him for the lead, settled in nicely and drew off impressively. I'm pretty sure Balletti and Wheresthescript were in the starting gate but I do not recall seeing either one of them thereafter.
So maybe I was premature calling that double-carry. Sue me. Looks like 19 live tickets with half the field of 10 covered in the finale and payouts ranging from $38k on favored Brampton to a lone-winner $228k on Elleway. Covered: 2,4,5,6,8. Uncovered: : 1,3,7,9,10.
6:00 pm: No double-carry, as 5-2 Brampton held off uncovered 22-1 McPeek firster Jazz Life to give trainer Allen Jerkens his first winner of the meeting and complete a $1,447 pick-4 and $38,362 pick-6 (6 winners).
On to Travers Day. First post is 11:35 a.m., and I'll begin dispensing up to 13 bad opinions on an early edition of Talking Horses starting at 10:20 a.m.
Peahi !!! I loved Peahi ! That Alw 50000s on Aug 8 was obviously similar in strength to a real Allowance race. Bet Peahi to win and made a rare (for me) exacta bet with Double Eagle who finished behind Peahi in that Aug 8 race. Dumb me, leaving out Versailles Road who finished within a length and a half of Peahi in that Aug 8 race and completed a $200 exacta today. And Excited??? He beat the nearly great (8-1) Holidaysatthefarm who looked to be drawing away and kept me from a really great day.
Steve, I read just about everything you've put up in anticipation of this weekend, and your blog to boot, and I am overwhelmed with appreciation. The Travers retrospective was enthralling, the meditation on Rachel's worthiness sublime, and your analysis of the Travers is close to correct -- Ice Box will be vindicated while your Fly Down will likely hit the board. And you're right, it's a fabulous Travers for the bettors. I have read your daily Saratoga offerings with zest, and every day's musings have been engaging and thought-provoking. You are the voice of this sport, and as it fights its way through these difficult time, horse racing has folks like you to thank for keeping the torch lit until the next renaissance takes hold. Thank you for keeping the sport of kings electric through good times and bad. Sincerely, Captain America
steve, could you maybe look into incorporating the dirt to synthetic ,synthetic to dirt, category in the trainer stat section i mean we got turf to synth, synth to turf, dirt to turf , turf to dirt just seems to me that we should also have this info as well, especially for this winter @ the great race place.... once again thanks steve.....
On the train up to Albany from the city just handicapping the card. Seems like toga has been running all these baby turf races going long. Just don't understand it. Anyway tomorrow should be a very enjoyable day. Weather looks perfect, stakes card, a few interesting plays and well just being at Saratoga in August is like a dream come true. Hope everyone has a profitable Travers day.
This is the 3rd time in 2 weeks that they've scratched the favorite at the gate. It just cost me again.... that's 1 Pick 6 and two Pick 4's. I had the 1,2 & 5 in this leg with the 5 singled in the 9th. I had the 2,3,4, & 5 to close out my Pick 4. When are these trainers going to get this right. How can these horses be the morning line AND the post time favorite and then scratch? Pathetic for a meet like Saratoga. I guess I should have taken your cue and stayed away today Steve.
Peahi was Dave Litfin's 2nd choice behind Upgrade. [Dave is often cleverer than I am. -SC]
Jim F. (from the previous blog): In a perfect world, I would love to see Saratoga stay with a six-day week, but like others, I was addressing what has become by far the biggest complaint about the six-day week: The far lower quality of racing...The real problem is the fact that the nature of the sport has changed, and it's not only Saratoga: Even cutting back to a five-day week as Del Mar did last year, did not save them from having to lower the claiming bottom from $10,000 to $7-8,000. The way most trainers race their horses now as opposed to years ago (when tracks often made trainers race horses far more often to get races to go), coupled with declining foal crops and other factors are going to make it tough for NYRA to maintain quality if people continue to insist on a six-day week at Saratoga. That's why I think it's time for Saratoga to follow the lead Del Mar did last year...
Steve, love the blog. Extremely contentious card all the way through tomorrow, especially early on. If you had to pick one race as your best bet of the day, what would it be? I am thinking about leaning heavily on Discreetly Mine in the Kings Bishop. He has seemed to learn his lesson since his last race since D'Funnybone and a 1:14 in change for 6.5f is just remarkable. Little nervous about Bulldogger though, but don't think he's classy enough for DM.
Nice Travers article, did you catch Durkin saying Birdstone wins the 135th Belmont Stakes at the end of the video? Sometimes I think he gets too excited and makes mistakes (Street Sense in the BC Juvy & Mine That Bird in the Derby), but his enthusiasm makes for many more good stretch calls then bad.
Only a kibitzer (hold the seltzer!) would be harping on the correct spelling of “aficianado” ...