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Day 32: 8/28/10
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- If you're just getting tied on for a long and rich day of racing from coast to coast, you've already missed the first three at Saratoga.
The 13-race card here started at 11:35 a.m. ET on a final Saturday of August that includes five main-track Grade 1 races (the Travers, King's Bishop and Ballerina at Saratoga and the Pacific Classic and Pat O'Brien at Del Mar) and a pair of Grade 2's on the grass (the Ballston Spa and the Del Mar Mile.)
A few changes to the usual Saratoga wagering menu:
*There are three instead of the usual two pick-4's today, on races 2-5, 5-8 and 9-12. Unfortunately, the one race that is part of both early pick-4's, the 5th, is a 2-year-old maiden race consisting of 10 first-time starters.
*The last pick-4 is not the usual last four races on the card but an all-graded-stakes one, with a $1 million guaranteed pool, that begins one race "early" with the 9th.
*Because of the new Travers-Personal Ensign two-day double, and an obscure rule that prohibits two doubles starting with the same race, there is no late double on the 12th and 13th races today.
I'm of course getting involved in the last pick-4, especially since the firster-fest (which coulda/shoulda been run as the opener) will keep me out of the first two. Still deciding whether to get further involved in the no-carryover pick-6, which bookends the final pick-4 sequence with the Ballston Spa and a $25k N2L turf sprint.
2:00 pm: Uncle Mo, who opened at 6-5 and was pounded to 9-10 by post time for the all-firster 5th, led from the get-go and drew off by 14 1/4 lengths in 1:09.21 for Repole/Pletcher, the trainer's 14th 2-year-old winner at the meeting. The Indian Charlie colt, a $220k yearling, ran his final quarter in 23.54 off a half in 45.67.
By contrast, in the filly version of the race 90 minutes earlier, well-meant Cash is King Stable firster Alexandra Rylee (by Afleet Alex) won her debut in 1:11.05.
Uncle Mo completed a $1,433 early pick-4 and topped a $15k superfecta, the third five-digit super payoff in the day's first five races: The super paid $23k for $2 in the first and $19k/$22k (dead-heat for third) in the 4th.
As for lunch: Back to Hattie's. Reunited, and it feels so good.
3:15 pm: Here's the plan for the all-stakes pick-4, which starts in about an hour with the 9th, the Victory Ride:
And now I'm going to go sit outside and enjoy some top-class horse racing. Post-mortems later.
6:45 pm: Quick stakes takes:
Ballston Spa: Tough beat for me as I took a shot with Silver Reunion at 14-1. She got the clear lead over Synaslew I'd hoped for, but between being off since last fall and breaking through the gate before the start, she shortened up in thei stretch and got nailed by the stalking Dynaslew by half a length. The two speeds domnated the race, and the biggest disappointment was Phola, who again was hampered by a lack of pace and may also need softer ground to show her best stuff.
Victory Ride: Rapport was the first of three straight front-running sprint winners but all of them were worthy and ran well and I don't know that it's fair to say they won because of a speed-biased track as some are alleging. Rapport, who set blazing fractions before folding under a poor ride in the Azalea, simply ran away from the field. My Jen was good to be second in her first start since January.
Ballerina: We'll never know if Qualia, beaten a nose by Rightly So when last they met, might have made a race of it if her saddle hadn't slipped. But take nothing away from 7-for-11 (with all four losses by under a length) Rightly So, a four-length winner over a four-way photo for second. Informed Decision, who hadn't raced on fast dirt in almost two years and is simply better on synthetics, looked fine down the backstretch but seemed to lose interest and action around the turn.
King's Bishop: Discreetly Mine didn't look as good in victory as he did in the Amsterdam, and his final time came up slow, but he set crazy-fast fractions (a half in 44.11) that took their toll. I wouldn't get too excited about the longshot closers (Bank Merger and Latigo Shore) who clunked up late from the back for the minor awards while Discreetly Mine was running his last eighth in 13.72, but Hurrican Ike was good in his first start since the Derby Trial.
Travers: Kind of an old-school Travers result, with the two colts who got useful preps over the track in the Jim Dandy closing mildly against middle-distance horses in a treadmill race coming back to dominate a distance-challenged field.
Has there ever been a Travers where seven horses went off at between 3.90-1(Trappe shot) and 7.60-1 (Ice Box)? Ice Box actually opened as the 9-2 favorite with $500k in the win pool and ended up the seventh choice at post time.
The eighth choice was Admiral Alex, the second-time starter, who for no good reason was 11-1 instead of 111-1.
Have the 1-2 finishers in a Derby ever run as badly in their next three starts as Super Saver's and Ice Box this year? Super Saver: 8th in the Preakness, 4th in the Haskell, 10th in the Travers. Ice Box: 9th in the Belmont, 6th in the Haskell, 8th in the Travers.
Anyway. Tomorrow's Rachel's return, and my ontrack swan song for Saratoga 2010, and those 11 races won't handicap themselves by tomorrow morning.
great day of racing..feel bad for my favorite grass rider, Jose Lezcano, losing the bob in the Travers..Fly Down's a very nice horse..Lezcano had a tough meeting at the Spa but i expect him to bounce back strongly at Belmont and Aqueduct..i've been watching him closely for the last few years and he's a masterful turf rider..i notice that he likes to let his horses lag early and come with a major finish on the outside late in the stretch...his finishes are heart-pounding and i agree with the way he rides, but he's been compromised at the Spa turf course by tighter turns which don't allow his horses to gain traction and level off for the stretch run..they've been coming up a bit short in many of his races..my advice would be to not change his style..his horses seem to repond to his early rating tactics and clear run finishes on the outside..with the big sweeping turns at Belmont & Monmouth he should again be dominant in the grass races downstate as soon as the Spa closes..its also been a lukewarm meet for Kent Desormeaux & Raj Maragh two other excellent riders, but Johhny V., Ramon Dominguez , and of course Javier Castellano have put on some superior rides throughout the meet..
Am I missing something? If you go to the following NYRA link (http://www.nyra.com/PhotoFinishAction.do?action=viewGallary&raceDate=2010-08-28), there are no photos posted for Travers finish. I am not a conspiracy theory guy, but that is REALLY bad. And yes...my Pick 4 pays me if Fly Down wins - but how can I tell if he really did or did not win without the photo? [Refresh your browser, it's there: http://www.nyra.com/PhotoFinishAction.do?action=viewImage&trackId=SAR&raceDate=2010-08-28&raceNumber=12&position=1 ]
Travers/Personal Ensign Double: NYRA's decision to promote the two day stakes double was combined with no Past Performances in the racing form for leg two of the double. This kind of blatant neglect for the bettor is indicative of the lack of regard the industry has for the wagering public. In a phone call to NYRA's racing office about this no reasonable response was made. it was clear that no one cared that the heavily promoted bet, for their signature event, lacked the significant handicapping information to allow the betting public to wager on it intelligently. Hooray for the bet it blind boys! Shame on you NYRA and the form for allowing this to happen.
Admiral Alex was off at 11-1, and "should have been 111-1". It must have been the Gray Panther Party hot tip; or the AARP tout sheet. Does wisdom come to those that simply grow old? Is Blu really 80 years old? Could he have drained his bank account to effect Admiral Alex's closing odds? I once had a pretty good coon hound. His name was Dozer (slept alot). Dozer was able to tree coons on every hunt. So with my infinite wisdom I thought he could hunt bear. Ya' know ....there's a BIG difference between coons and bears.
If anything it was a rail bias as opposed to a speed bias, EVERY horse that swung outside just floundered in the presumably deeper outside going. The pace was always fast enough that you would expect one of the proven quality closers to unleash a rally, especially going 7/8's, but yet no rally materialized. Travers winner rallied up the rail, Borel managed to get SS to the rail from post 11 but winner beat him the to hole. Realize I sound paranoid but could not help thinking the track was already being groomed for Rachel's apperance today.
NYRA and it's racing has become a mockery. After getting slammed down the throat with NY breds, restricted claimers, and turf sprints for six weeks, we are treated to a ridiculous track bias on their biggest day. I can honestly say my SAR handle has decreased 75% of the past couple of years, I simply refuse to wager on the inferior product that is presented. The lemmings will continue to play these races because it's "SARATOGA", but you can bet the same state-breds, restricted claimers and mediocrity at nearly any track in the country. It truly is a shame.
Still do not know what to make out of that Travers. I watched Afleet Express's Whitney and still do not know what that was. Looked like he was climbing when set down for the stretch run. I can't even make a case for that horse several hours after the Travers. As for Trap Shot. I had a feeling that horse was a nothing. Did not use him in the second slot in the Monmouth race and he came on and burned me. His true ability came out today. He looks like a over hyped one run NW of two type of horse.
Great Travers! Really enjoyed reminiscing w/your Top 4 Travers and watching the Youtube videos. No coincidence that my No. 1 Haskell was also run in 1987 when Craig Perret aboard Bet Twice pinned McCarron and Alysheba behind front running Lost Code to win in front of loudly appreciative Monmouth crowd. In my case, I was extremely disappointed when downpour hit Spa for showdown w/Java Gold et. al. Like new face Mike Beer. He's sharp w/astute Travers pick Aflleet Express. Would like to read/see more from him.
I thought there was a strong inside speed bias at Saratoga Saturday for dirt sprints, and I like those kinds of biases. The really strong biases, like this one, you can see it in the 1st race. The rail speed and 2 path stalker drew away from the pack. That immediately has me watching the next race. By the time Rapport and Rightly So ran, I was already on the bandwagon, and betting like they were Fabulous Strike at a price.
Heck of a day of racing. Not a gripe but wish the main track played a little more evenly today. Sometimes that's the way it is I guess. Steve, I hope you profited from your not being convinced that Afleet Again couldn't clunk up for a minor award. The super was pretty juicy. Here's hoping that Mr. Blusiewicz still has himself a nice horse, sad to see him thrown to the dogs like that.