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Day 35: 8/31/08
3:30 pm: Too lazy and too pretty a Labor Day Sunday here on Long Island to get involved early today, so I'll dive in later on when the late pick-4 kicks off with three stakes races. After scratches we've got eight left in the Caveat Competor for 3-year-old turf fillies, six in the Saranac for 3-year-old turf males, and six fillies in the Spinaway, first Grade 1 race of the year for 2-year-olds.
What's a Caveat Competor? Winner of the second division of the 1998 Lake George, that's what. Who won the first division? Tenski.
While I was out, but ducking back in every 32 minutes to watch:
Race 1: A conveyor-belt kind of turf sprint over the parched and dusty turf (home to 7 of today's 11 races), as 3-1 Ya Think and 53-1 Carry on the Dream (off the board in 11 of 12 prior career starts) ran 1-2 around the track. Little ground gain or position change behind them through 5.5f in 1:02.69. First winner of the year for former Pletcher assistant Seth Benzel, who had compiled 22:0-6-5 record since going out on his own in June. His six prior career victories as a trainer came in January of 2007 while Pletcher was serving a suspension and his Aqueduct horses ran in Benzel's name.
Race 2: Just a Coincidence, Zito second-timer acratched from the Hello Broadway race yesterday for this smaller and softer lineup, sent off at 1-2 off second to Hopeful favorite Munnings in July 26 debut. Getting hooked early by 3-1 Wesley Ward firster Big Flirt softened him up for the late run of Ritvo third-timer In Speight of It ($25.60), a 1 1/2-length winner in 1:11.36. Just a Coincidence held second by head over Pletcher firster Ducane as Big Flirt stopped badly to run 5th of 6.
Race 3: Chronic nutjob Retibution, who lost by nose after blowing 12-length lead in July 31 edition of this statebred N2x turfer, only opened 7 early today as the 5-2 favorite but squandered it all on the turn as North Country, 9-2 ML but 9-1 at post time, steadily stalked from third and scored by 2 1/4.
Race 4: Bambolina ($15.80), Kenneally third-timer in 2-year-old filly maiden turf sprint, sat in pocket behind early duel between Debbie H and River Fancy, slipped out and ran them down in 1:02.97. Pletcher firster There are Rainbows finished best of all for third with late move up rail. Americas Dreaming, 7-2 off nose loss in Irish debut and private purchase by Team Valor, broke slowly and showed poor action on hard course, beating only two.
Race 5: After waiting three months for his first winner, Benzel waited only another two hours for his second, as Walkabout Winner, 3-year-old Aldebaran-Appealing Kris filly off nine months since debut, ran down 11-months-away Bond second-timer My Lovely Lark in mid-stretch, drew off nicely. Both Benzel winners owned by Edgewood Farm.
Early pick-4 of $25.60/$20.20/$15.80/$9.40 paid $15,230, well above $9600 parlay.
4:30 pm: Penultimate pick-6 of meeting, with mandatory payout on closing day tomorrow, began with a 21-1 upset and an even-money romp.
Race 6: Darley, which ran second in Woodward with 40-1 Past the Point yesterday, sent out Devotee here, homebred Elusive Quality-Danuta(UAE Oaks winner, by Sunday Silence) filly, and scored at 21-1 as she wired 2-1 Amanwella and rest of field in 1:17.72.
Race 7: Secret Gypsy, injured after setting Spa track record in her unveiling last year and 0-3 this year in graded stakes, found this N1x field much cozier than dueling with Inidan Blessing in the Prioress last time out. A seemingly fat 2-1 with 6 MTP, she was hammered to 1.05-1 late, shook off Overandabeauty's early challenge, and notched her second career win in 1:09.59 for Werner/Albarado. The Race 6-7 double of $44 Devotee and $4.10 Secret Gypsy paid $139, rare huge DD overlay for New York.
--Good story here, and cautionary tale about slots deals, about the end of parimutuel racing in Kansas.
5:45 pm: Pletcher-trained favorites finished fourth in both turf stakes for 3-year-olds. McLaughlin continues to hold a 16-15 lead over Pletcher in the trainer standings as both have been blanked in the first 20 Labor Day Weekend races at Saratoga.
Race 8: John Kimmel won his fifth race in the last three days after going 1-for-19 over the first 32 days, sending out Live Oak Stable's Remarkable Remy to win the $85,600 Caveat Competor for 3-year-old fillies. Remarkable Remy enjoyed a sweet trip, close to Stealin Kisses' slow pace (48.22, 1:12.27) while fourth at the rail, then coming through late and holding off closers Mousse Au Chocolat and Receipt by half a length in 1:35.55. Favored Sea Chanter was fourth and Stealin Kisses fifth in a race where just 1 1/4 lengths separated the first five under the wire and 3 1/4 lengths covered the first seven. Remarkable Remy is a gray New York-bred by Hennessy and the Marquetry mare Most Remarkable.
Race 9: Marling, front-running winner of the $502k 12-furlong Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine Aug. 2, dropped back to $111k and 9.5 furlongs and led at every call to win the G3 Saranac by 1 3/4 lengths over Vacation, with favored Ready's Echo fourth as the 19-10 favorite in his turf debut and first start since dead-heating for third in the Belmont Stakes.
Marling ($7.00), a Canadian-bred Gustav Schickedanz homebred by Langfuhr and the Conquistador Cielo mare Marienburg, is trained by Deborah England and is now 3 for 4 on the grass.
6:45 pm:: The G1 Spinaway turned out to be an old-school showdown between the Adirondack winner and the Schuylerville winner, as Mani Bhavan ($3.40) outlasted Jardin through a slow final furlong to become the first Grade 1 winner from the foal crop of 2006.
Mani Bhavan shot out of the gate like a greyhound beating the box and was 2 1/2 in front of Casanova Move after a quick opening quarter of 22.18. Casanova Move gave up the chase after getting within a length of the the leader through a half in 45.46, and then Jardin emerged as the true challenge, switching to the outside for the stretch run. Mani Bhavan was tired and vulnerable after six furlongs in 1:11.03 but Jardin began lugging in while failing to catch the leader, and after a final furlong of 14.20, Mani Bhavan was still 1 1/4 lengths in front after seven furlongs in 1:25.23.
Mani Bhavan, a Storm Boot filly owned by Puglisi Racing and trained by Steve Klesaris, is technically the division's leader off her 3-for-3 record and Adirondack and Spinaway victories, but will have to finish more strongly in the future to pursue a championship.
Race 11: Julio Garcia, who turned in such a smart ride for Ramsey/Maker yesterday on Chief Talkeetna, did the same with their Fancy Footsteps ($9.60) in the nightcap, waiting confidently as 24-1 Vue de Chat pulled a Retribution and blazed to a 10-length lead down the backstretch. Garcia sat patiently in second, made his move around the turn, took over in midstretch, and held 11-1 Spirited Seacat safe.
Not only would Spirited Seacat have completed a $305 pick-3 for me, but she also was one of only three uncovered horses who would have triggered a $94k carryover into closing day. Instead, she completed a sequence worth $23,671 to four wise bettors. Rats.
Steve, I'm heart broken about the Woodlands. Indulge me for a few paragraphs, as I need to get this out, hopefully to a few people (i.e., true horseplayers) who might understand. I became interested in racing in 1990 when stationed at Ft. Knox. I dated a girl whose company (Hawley-Cooke Booksellers, a local bookstore that fell victim to the Borders beast)had a box at Churchill Downs. We went there on a date one Saturday. We visited the paddock, and I was awed by the majesty of the thoroughbreds that paraded within an arms length. We got a racing form and I was fascinated with the detailed information and the puzzle it had the potential to solve. In short, I eventually dumped the girl, but kept my love for racing. I was transferred to the University of Kansas it 1991 to complete my masters in history. While there, I took riding lessons to learn more about horses. And I spent my summers at the Woodlands as much as possible. There was no simulcasting that first summer, but the quality of the racing at the Woodlands that summer was on par with the other nearest track, Ak-sar-ben (which I traveled to through the winter in order to play the simulcasts. Ak-sar-ben is gone now too) Simulcasting came to the Woodlands within the year, and I managed to get there at least once a week to play the races. From '91 to '93 I got my masters in History, but I also definitely got my bachelor's in handicapping as well. I could go on with reminiscences, but I'll close by saying I'll always consider Churchill Downs my home track, the place where this horseplayer was born. But I was raised at the Woodlands, and I'm really sad to see it go.
Interesting comment on Patti Tiff in her Aug. 16 race. That was at a mile. She goes 5 1/2 furlongs on Monday. "Patti Tiff clipped heels and stumbled on the first turn, moved out to prompt the pace along the backstretch, remained a factor into upper stretch and steadily tired thereafter."
Fellow bloggers-- 2nd race, AP Light, last time Jan Rushton gushed about how good this horse looked in the paddock, then got loose and ran off during the warm-up and was a late scratch. At 20-1 morning line, what the heck!
My "tired" arguments get the usual responses... "throw me a bone and all is well" "the food is better than the ballpark" huh? ever eat in a casino? 3rd rate casinos serve better food than belmont and aqueduct. If NYRA and Charlie Haywood are doing such a good job,then I guess business will be UP this year and bankruptcy won't be an issue. This is not the way to attract NEW fans. Take a walk around aqueduct one day and count the number of patrons under 75 years old.
Steve, NYRA expects to be cut off by cablevision at 6:00 p.m.. To have a little fun with this situation I thought I would try to be a little clairvoyant. So, here is the scenario: The horses are galloping through the stretch in the Hopeful. Inside the 1/16th pole Tom Durkin bellows out MUNNINGS DESPERATELY TRYING TO HOLD ONNNNNNNNN at that very moment Cablevision cuts to RAI and denies Cablevision subscribers the opportunity to witness an historic hopeful finish live. Annoyed, Cablevision subscribers put on full-cup blinkers and ear plugs to avoid the results and wait for race replays to put the race up so that they can watch the race from start to finish. In protest, Cablevision subscribers boycott the last race of the Saratoga season. It was an inscrutable turf race anyway, which I call an "equine lotto." In their last act of defiance, when Cablevision subscribers receive their August bill, they chuckle and pay it late. On a more serious note, I am relative newcomer to your Christblog. I liked following along this Saratoga season. Nice job.
I agree with Walt that it would seem you could get more bang for your Labor Day buck at Belmont than you could at Saratoga.
Going back to comments in the previous blog on Saratoga attendance, while the 22,000+ number was very disappointing, it needs to be remembered that: 1. Many tourists plan Saratoga trips well in advance, and it was not known until the middle of the meet that Curlin was going to start in The Woodward. 2. Many of those same tourists are likely families that come in many cases from other parts of the country where school has already started, or is about to start. That prevents many of them from coming up during the final week. 3. Even those living in New York City and the surrounding area can't really come up for the final week of the Saratoga meet any longer because for many families, they have to get their kids ready for school that now begins the day after Labor Day (which in New York City has been for the last two years as before that, it had not been the case for the previous 50+ years). In addition, you have the US Open Tennis Championships going on and many people's attention, especially in New York is on that event, and in other parts of the country, college football takes away the attention of those who otherwise might have been able to make the trip to see Curlin in the Woodward. This is why it may now be time for The New York Racing Association to look at moving the Saratoga meet up a week to conclude on the Monday preceeding Labor Day (as was the case prior to 1997), as doing so would allow many more tourists to make the trip to Saratoga during the early weeks of the meeting. If that happened, however, I would leave the Alabama and the Travers on what are essentially their current dates, with the Travers becoming the feature of the final Saturday and the Alabama the next-to-last Saturday, while the Woodward returned to where it was run in the 1980's, as the feature on the opening Saturday of the Belmont Fall Championship Meeting when that meet opened during Labor Day week. This may also not be a bad idea for 2009 anyway since with Labor Day on its latest possible date next year, schools in NYC may actually start prior to Labor Day for the first time in memory.
Ray Manley, Take a look at the 8th race at DelMar on Sunday, 8-31. It had 11 first starters, after three were scratched. At first it looked as if the only sensible play was a pass, a dartboard toss, a quickpick Super or play your birthday or the gray horses. Then I took a close look at the pedigrees, the trainers and workouts and won the trifecta. For all those who don't know: Pepper's Pride was scratched by his trainer because the track was wet and rated sloppy. The great one has never run on a wet track. Steve, You have done a magnificent job this year on the Saratoga blogs. Kudos.
I, and I'm sure the legions of followers of the Siro's Seminars, were thrown into a state of panic and withdrawal when the seminar wasn't streamed over the internet this morning (the first such snafu of the meeting) nor has the replay been posted as of 1:40am Monday morning. I fear that it is lost to us forever. However, it caused me to be innovative on my own, and actually resulted in my being a Sunday Saratoga winner. It is highly unlikely that the panel would have liked Albertrani/Darley firster, Devotee in the sixth. Hopefully, it will be back up and operational in about nine hours for the final session of the meeting. I really missed Little Andy telling me about those N.Y. trainers that run their horses on the mid-atlantic circuit, and about each favorite's "window dressing" Beyers which were the results of perfect trips. The seminars have become very much a part of the fabric of my Saratoga meeting and we really miss them on the rare occasions when they are not available to us.
I fear that the Kansas situation is merely the tip of the iceberg. River Downs in Cincinnati, Ohio may well run its final live race ever tomorrow in the Labor Day finale, while Thistledowns in Cleveland, barely dodged the demolition bullet this year, but may not for long in the future, and Beulah Park will probably follow River Downs to live racing extinction in the near future. [As for] Turfway Park, in Northern Kentucky...Keeneland, the parent company is putting all of their eggs into the expansion of its Lexington facility basket, and Harrah's is growing weary of waiting for Kentucky to approve slots. As many of us feared when simulcasting became the norm - in the future only a few supertracks will remain and the demise of the small local tracks appears imminent. Tragic!