08/29/2008 3:00PM

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.