08/28/2010 12:07PM

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.