08/29/2008 4:00PM

Day 33: 8/29/08


4:00 pm: Even with the extra 105 minutes to handicap the Friday card, I can't make heads or tails of the pick-6 with $48k carryover. So one of you constant readers hit it or let's just let it carry again to Woodward Day, okay?

The sequence begins with one of the nine-race card's four juvenile maiden races, none of them events in which you're likely to find next year's Oaks or Derby winner: a filly turf sprint, a statebred maiden-claimer, and a statebred maiden-special. With 13 of the 27 post-scratch starters in those first three legs being firsters, that's a little too much guesswork for me. Those are followed by the always-weird With Anticpation Stakes, a 2-year-old turf route that drew an especially light field of seven maiden winners and a firster, since so many 2-yearold grass races were rained off early in the meeting; a good six-horse N3x at nine furlongs where you either gamble with Extreme Supreme or go four deep adding Timber Reserve, Mr. Greeley and Sam P.; and a challenging 12-horse starter-allowance where you either hope that Into The Wind repeats his last or you go deep with a bunch of them. I wouldn't know where to begin.

Today's opener ended in the second dead-heat of the meeting when the camera couldn't separate Crimson Comic ($6.20) and Titan of Industry ($3.20) in a 3yo turf claimer. This was followed by a ceremony in the winners' circle where town officials declared tomorrow "Curlin Day" and presented his connections with a special blanket and a key to the city. "All true champions race at Saratoga, America's most premier racetrack," proclaimed one civic official, so I guess that for starters, Mineshaft,, Tiznow, Charismatic, Kotashaan, A.P. Indy, Black Tie Affair, Sunday Silence, Ferdinand, Spend a Buck, All Along and Spectacular Bid should be stripped of their Horse of the Year trophies.

The second race ended the way many a turf sprint does in New York, with Linda Rice in the winner's circle. The Empress sent out Robert Koones's homebred Jess Not Jesse (named for Curlin owner Jess Jackson?), 7-2 in the early betting but 5.90-1 at post time, to beat 2-1 favorite Mesa Sunrise, yet another runner-up for 3-for-62 Mott.

The third was the day's richest race, the $90k Clifton Park Stakes, presumably buried early because it had a layover favorite in Godolphin's 4-year-old filly Cocoa Beach, who couldn't have fit the "nonwinners of a graded sweepstakes over a mile in 2008" more snugly: Cocoa Beach, a Chilean-bred daughter of Doneraile Court, won three graded stakes in Chile last year and won the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks, both $250k races, in Dubai last winter, but the latter two are listed rather than graded races. Cocoa Beach ($3.20) won the race by nearly five lengths under wraps, running the 9f in 1:51.50. Look for her in a Grade 1 stakes next time out.

4:30 pm: Oh, what the heck. Put in a $100 caveman pick-6, since two firsters are taking all the money in the first leg, just so as not to feel like an idiot if it's that easy:


I'll set the over/under on winners at 3 1/2.

6:30 pm: Hope you bet the under. I'm 2 for 5 but I'm going to take the half-full view that I saved $1100 rather than lost $100 on today's pick-6 by not making more than a token play. It's been a pretty chalky sequence so far ($8.80/$4.70/$9.40/$4.20)but I doubt that a buried firster like Doughdaddy was really 6-5 in the pick-6, or that Bittel Road in the With Anticipation was as short as 11-10.

Bittel Road was top fig in the 1 1/16-mile With Anticipation, but he earned it in a six-furlong turf sprint at Belmont while several others in the race had already routed in their brief careers. We're all still trying to figure out this brave new world of turf sprints in New York and I've generally found it pays to oppose short-priced stretchouts. But the $340k Stormy Atlantic colt, trained by Todd Pletcher, was very professional handling the distance, and prevailed by a head over Skipadate with Mott firster Herr Mozart third in a promising debut.

Commenter "Terry McK" clued me in to today's historic development: the Nassau OTB channel switched to Italian programming as usual at the stroke of 6 o'clock (tonight it was sea turtles frolicking in the Mediterranean), and I turned to TVG, but now I'm back watching Saratoga on the OTB channel. Let's see what happens with the nightcap, scheduled for 7:09 pm.

Timber Reserve just won the featured 9th over Extreme Supreme and Sam P., with Desormeaux wrapping up on the winner in midstretch and just cruising to the wire. Timber Reserve, a Forest Camp 4-year-old who won last year's Pennsylvania Derby but was thrashed in two subsequent starts including the Whitney last time out, was timed in 1:50.17 and looks ready to resume his stakes career. He was the third winner of the day (and in the pick-6) for trainer John Kimmel, who also sent out first-time starters Doughdaddy and Close Encounter. Before today, Kimmel was 1 for 19 at the meet.

Eleven of the 12 in the finale are covered in the pick-6, at payoffs ranging from $2,668 on favored Big Jerome to $229k on Chalook, who someone around here was touting. So the only way we get a double-carry is with a miraculous victory by Mastermind, currently 38-1 and heaing north with good reason.

7:01 pm: Seven minutes to post, and no sea turtles. Hooray, at least for today, for Nassau OTB.

7:15 pm: Stormy Mirage ($14.x0) took the nightcap under leading rider Alan Garcia, giving trainer Allen Iwinski his first of the meet and completing a $16,488 pick-six for 14 braver and smarter players than this one. Mastermind, alas, was last of 12. On to Woodward Day.

7:40 pm: Well, the Nassau OTB channel's now been showing the NYRA test-pattern for 20 minutes since the ninth-race replays ended. C'mon, someone, wake up! Put the sea turtles back on, or at least the odds from Del Mar.

Frank More than 1 year ago
I hope that picture of the sea turtle didn't offend anyone......
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Steve - Your criticism of the local public officials is a bit harsh. I'm a firm believer in the politician-as-salesman model of elected official. Those people were only trying to play up the Curlin appearance and give the track (and the local economy) a boost. Our beloved sport needs all the help it can get, so when people want to give racing a boost, I don't split hairs about their support - especially in the wake of the investgation into the labor practices of several trainers.
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Saturday - Saint hit the side of the gate on Aug 6. Luzzi has been victorious with some longshots lately. Interesting. With Brindisi as one of the eateries on Saratoga's restaurant row, perhaps the Italian TV program could feature a profile of Brindisi, the Italian port city on the Adriatic.
TOM D. More than 1 year ago
Nyra and OTB. They 're killing us. Lousy employees at Saratoga with their hands out, to The Italian cooking show at 600 p.m. What can you do? I come up from Orlando with 5 others every year. We spend $$$$$ yet we find a product getting worse. One bartender asked for $$$$$ for the Alabama next year!!! It's a great time but watch your wallet.
Evan Gewirtz More than 1 year ago
I loved the test pattern image,referring to the maddening NYRA/RAI dilemma, however, you could have jazzed it up a little more if you included a description of the shrieking noise that accompanies it. NYRA was supposed to have uninterupted racing throughout both sunset Fridays. At 6pm on 1st sunset Friday Cablevision shut NYRA off. At 6:00.01 I called NYRA and they were already working on restoring the signal. About 15-20 minutes later, the signal was restored. This time I was well armed. I called NYRA to remind them to remind Cablevision not to go to RAI at 6:00. At 6:00 when Cablevision cut to RAI, I simply turned the TV off in disgust, admitted defeat and shut down racing for the day. I probably should have stayed on and enjoyed the sea turtles.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Poker talk on the Crist Blog? Are ya'll serious? No offense, but I play horses and this a horseracing forum...problem with some horseplayers is they're not horseplayers at all-just hardcore GAMBLERS. But please play all the poker you want and then come to the track. After all, we are in competition against each other; and it's your money I seek (yours too, Steve)...well, I'm packin up and gettin out of Dodge. Gustav is headed directly for me (Lafayette, La) and today is probably the last day of SAR '08 for me. Need some travelin cash...it's 6 hours to Tyler, Tx.
Brian More than 1 year ago
The Curlin ceremony was way over the top, even for NYRA, and very pathetic. How about we honor the horses who have raced multiple times at Saratoga to fill all the non-stakes cards instead of kissing the ring of Curlin's connections? Man, get a life NYRA.
Toones More than 1 year ago
Steve, Do you know what happened to the horse One Caroline. He was entered for 1 and 1/8 race at Saratoga. Then scratched the day of the race. One Caroline's last race at Churchill reminded me of Roses in May, the way he just cruised around the track winninng eased up by 12 lengths. His first race was very imprssive too. I figured this horse would be pointing to something big. Does anybody know if he will be running soon or if something went wrong with the horse?
Unitas More than 1 year ago
Stick a fork in me, i'm done. Feeling TOTAL BURNOUT from handicapping every Saratoga card this meet. Don't know if I will play tomorrow or the rest of this meet, gonna have to see how I feel tomorrow. I do not wish to even look at another PP for a while. I can count on one hand how many times I have felt like this in almost 30 years of handicapping. This is the unofficial last weekend of summer, and now I feel as though I need a vacation! I have enjoyed interacting with my fellow bloggers everday of this SPA meet, and once again I thank Steve for all of his time & effort that he puts in this blog daily. Good luck everyone, you have 3 race cards to get even at the Spa. Don't even know if I will have the will or strength to watch Curlin run tomorrow(If it's between cutting the grass or watching Curlin run, I'll be 3-5 odds on watching the Champ run). Did somebody say "Beautiful Belmont Park"?
SamG More than 1 year ago
Good luck to pick 6 players Saturday,I`m not going near that 6th race,not to mention the blind maiden in the 8th.I`ll take a shot early with Terrific Storm(8-1) in the 1st.Probably never happen but if Rollers is forced to keep Benny the Waiter honest in the 3rd Strummer(12-1) could sit a perfect trip just behind them.