09/02/2009 1:13PM

Day 31: 9/2/09


September1:12 pm: Sept. 2 is as late as a final week of Saratoga ending on Labor Day can begin, since Sept. 7 is as late as Labor Day, the first Monday of September, can be. The August Place To Be is now The September Place to Linger.

As you can tell from the children singing patriotic songs in the winner's circle on the simulcast signal, it's also "Proud to be an American" day at Saratoga. "Proud to be a Pick-Six Player Day" begins in the fifth race, when the sequence starts with a $45,240 carryover and a 2-year-old maiden race with two strong second-timers and five firsters. The trickiest leg is probably the third, where nine 2-year-old fillies all will be trying the turf for the first time.

The card includes two ungraded stakes for older-filly sprinters. One race before the Pick-6 starts, there's the $70k Loudonville at 6f on the dirt. J.Z. Warrior looks eligible to get an easy lead and wire it. The ninth race is the Lena Spencer (named for the proprietor of local folk-music mecca Cafe Lena) for turf sprinters. Linda Rice, who starts Week Six tied with Todd Pletcher for the training title at 15 winners apiece, sends out Canadian Ballet and Ahvee's Destiny, the likely second and third choices behind Smart and Fancy.

One of the pick-6 questions I'll be grappling with in the next two hours is whether to lean on Smart and Fancy, who was probably best running a frequently-troubled second to Ahvee's Destiny last time out, or whether to use all three favorites in equal strength and try to narrow things down elsewhere.

Smart and Fancy is a personal favorite with a dazzling set of lifetime pp's:

Download SmartandFancy

She has won 14 of 26 career starts with five seconds and five thirds, and 11 of her victories have been in stakes races, at Aqueduct, Colonial, Delaware, Laurel, Philadelphia Park and Pimlico. Her only two off-the-board finishes came in her first two career starts, meaning she has run first, second or third an astounding 24 times in a row.

2:10 pm: Captain Sword scratched with one minute to post for the 3rd race, leaving a field of three (3). 2-5 Headache was an easy winner over 3-2 Matador Run.

3:02 pm: Here's the $1302 play -- a $600 all-A's-and-B's, and five single backup C tickets costing $216, $72, $144, $216 and $54:


I easily could have put in four times as much without increasing my confidence fourfold. The first and third legs, for 2-year-olds, are wide open. The only way I could keep the play at my target level was to set it up in a way that either Chief Counsel in the 5th or Smart and Fancy in the 9th must win.

I used Royal Stocks as one of my two backups in the upcoming 5th because he took serious action in the race 4-5 doubles. The doubles from the three favorites to him dropped from $111 to $47, $138 to $83 and $91 to $48 during the last 12 minutes of betting.

3:16 pm: Well, THAT wasn't fun while it lasted all of 1:04.29. Chief Counsel off poorly, fell eight lengths back early, made a huge, wide move he couldn't sustain and fell a length short. Lukewarm Pletcher firster Bonavento ($13.40) outdueled 6-1 Fayoum for the victory. 

4:00 pm: Under other circumstances, Lovely Promise is the kind of "C" who can really make a Pick-6, a 5th/6th choice kind of horse that not many caveman tickets are going to include. For today, we'll see if she has that effect on a possible double-carryover into tomorrow. With the first two winners paying $13.40 and $25.40, it's already a distinct possibility.

5:35 pm: Canadian Ballet ($7.20) blitzed the Lena Spencer in 44.22 and 1:01.57 to put The Queen back into a tie with Pletcher at 16-16 in the trainer standings. Smart and Facy, sent off at even-money, steadied early and was wide but didn't kick in with her best and lost the photo for second to 8-1 Sly Storm. As discussed last year, Canadian Ballet is named for the ecdysiast emporia just over the Canadian border.

As for the pick-6: No live tickets, and a $209,378 double-carry into Thursday.

6:00.01 pm: It was too good to last. Three minutes to post for the Saratoga finale and it's...."Parliamo Italiano" on the Nassau OTB channel.

6:01 pm: After just 45 seconds or so of parliamoing, it switched back to Saratoga! Good thing too, since TVG is showing the third at Del Mar.

6:15 pm: Tough-to-like Mr. Enrico took the finale at $31.40 to complete a $23k pick-4 and a pair of $27k consos. Time to pick up some midnight oil at 7-11.