08/31/2008 3:32PM

Day 35: 8/31/08

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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.