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Day 36: 9/1/08
12:01 pm: Today's fourth race is officially listed in track programs and DRF as the "Lue Donville Stakes." Who's Lue Donville? Another one of those obscure 19th Century Saratoga County historical figures they've been naming overnight stakes race for this meet, like James Marvin or Madame Jumel?
Nope. Lue Donville is a typo for the local Albany County hamlet of Loudonville, home of Sienna College. That's how the race was listed in the condition book, but somehow it got mangled in translation when Monday's entries were taken.
Clear, fast and firm for Closing Day. Eleven races to go.
The trainer and jockey races are not quite settled. Kiaran McLaughlin has a 16-15 lead on Todd Pletcher and only two more bullets to Pletcher's four. Alan Garcia probably has the riding title wrapped up with a 37-34-32 edge on John Velazquez and Edgar Prado, but by my count Velazquez has 11 mounts, including all four of Pletcher's, to Garcia's 8. I'll update the chart below as the day goes on.
2:00 pm:John Kimmel just won the second race with favored second-timer Gem for Hook ($4.90), the trainer's sixth consecutive winning starter over the last four days of racing.
Kimmel's streak began Friday with Doughdaddy ($4.70), Close Encounter ($9.40) and Timber Reserve ($7.40), and continued Saturday with Freedom Bay($20.20) and Sunday with Remarkable Remy ($17.20). A $2 parlay on Kimmel's last six starters would be up to $17,393.
Race 1: Velazquez just missed tightening up the jockey race when he came up a bobbing nose short on Counterspy, who ding-donged the final 100 yards with Ramsey/Maker Bartletts ($7.80) in first division of turf maiden-claimer; second division is 11th, final race of meet.
Race 2: Gem For Hook, second to runaway Rice firster Mother Russia here Aug. 13, 2-5 first flash, 7-5 at post time as Finger Lakes-based Ferraro firster Vintage Tough was steadily whacked to 2-1. Gem For Hook wired the field in 1:05.11 as Vintage Tough settled for distant third behind winner and 6-1 Tagg firster By The Sky.
2:10 pm: Make that SEVEN straight winning starters for John Kimmel, whose Premium Gold just wired the 3rd race at 11-1 while the crowd again fell for Discreet Treasure, who ran fourth at even-money. The $2 win parlay on Kimme's last seven starters is now $222,630. The Kimmel double of Gem For Hook and Premium Gold, however, came back only $35.60, well below the $62.70 parlay.
Kimmel's final starter of the meet is Break Water Edison in the Hopeful (4-1 ML).
Premium Gold won a maiden race two back in his sixth career start then was beaten 35 1/2 lengths last time out in the Aug. 10 version of this N1x route, when Dr. Pleasure beat 6-5 Discreet Treasure by 8 1/2 lengths. That race featured a four-way duel over in 1:11.93 over a slower track than today's, but today Premium Gold was loose and clear after a 1:12.09 pace. Discreet Treasure -- a half-brother to Discreet Cat and a winner of his debut by 16 lengths on a sloppy track in mediocre time -- tried rating today but had no late punch. Premium Gold scored by four lengts in 1:50.70 as the longest shot in the field.
3:30 pm: Velazquez pulled to within two wins of Garcia after the 5th race with an assist from the stewards, who disqualified Mrs. Holden (Chavez) for bothering Velazquez and Kenny Streicher firster Leader of the Lite ($14.40) at the head of the stretch.
Race 4: The old Lue Donville went to Tommasi, who finished third to Dr. DFC and Stud Muffin in the Solomon Northup Aug. 9 but turned the tables with a softer pace today. Tommasi was just a head off Johnie By Night's pokey 1:13.54 today, made a decisive move around the turn, and had plenty to finish strongly and score by three lengths over last-to-2nd Dr. DFC, with Stud Muffin a neck back in third as the 6-5 choice. Tommasi was the first winner of the meet for previously 0-for-13 trainer James Bond, whose wife, Tina Marie Bond, owns the homebred 6-year-old Raffie's Majesty gelding. Maragh roode the winner though nine furlongs in 1:50.97.
Race 5:There wasn't a good camera angle to see how much Mrs. Holden did or didn't bother Leader of the Lite when she came in around the turn and Velazquez checked his mount sharply. After a 10-minute inquiry, though, the stewards took down 10-1 Mrs. Holden and put up Leader of the Lite, Streicher's first starter since April 20.
4:30 pm: McLaughlin and Garcia extended their leads after teaming up to win the 6th with Cobblestone Way ($6.40), who had never passed a horse in his three-race career but came running through the stretch to run down Dressed to Win in the final stride.
The 6th was also the first leg of the mandatory-payout pick-6 and a bad result for me in that I singled fourth-place finisher Higher Incentive as an A. At least Cobblestone Way was my only C, but my whole approach to the bet was that if Higher Incentive didn't win the 6th, practically anyone could. I play the pick-6 a little differently on closing days, using fewer A's and a lot more C's since 5/6 is good for the front end of the pool about half the time:
Race 7: Iron Curtain ($5.80), probably best last out when blocked under Castellano, enjoyed a perfect trip under Velazquez to blow away these statebred N1x turf sprinters in 1:01.90 and keep his slim chance for the riding title alive, along with my faint hopes for the pick-6. The idea was to get 4 or 5 A's and a bomb C home, not to start off with a 2-1 C. Oh well.
5:45 pm: Garcia and McLaughlin clinched at least ties for their titles. Two races to go at the meeting, and they're each two ahead of Pletcher/Velasquez, who would have to sweep the finales with Munnings and Gemology to force two ties.
Race 8: Bond won his second stakes race on closing day after 35 winless days when Hostess blew past the leaders and then held off Palmilla by half a length to win the G3 Glens Falls Handicap in course-record time.
Hostess had run into division leader Mauralakana in all four of her starts this year, handing her her only defeat of the season in the Orchid. She finished just two necks behind Mauralakana and Dynaforce in the New York H., and figured to be the second choice behind Dynaforce today, but something more like 6-5 and 9-5 than the 1-2 and 3-1 at which they went off. Bill Mott's 4-for-70 Saratoga nightmare concluded with Dynaforce tiring badly after stalking Tejida's hot pace and finishing 5th at 0.55-1.
Hostess, a 5-year-old Chester House mare, lowered the 2:12 course record with 11 furlongs under Maragh in 2:11.66.
Race 9: The Quick Call S. was the best turf sprint of the meeting on paper and at the finish line and might have previewed the new BC Turf Sprint coming up next month. Natural Seven, a winner of five straight since being claimed for $12.5k earlier this year, outbroke and blasted away from the field and looked home free after a scorching half in 43.56, but the cavalry came flying at him. Salute the Count ($20.20) won a four-way photo over 58-1 Kingship (one of only three graded stakes winners in the field), 5-2 favorite Helvelyn, and Natural Seven -- whose rider, Ramon Dominguez, appeared to lose his whip in the final strides.
Salute the Count, an 8-year-old Count the Time gelding, ran the 5.5f under Coa in 1:01.24. He had been cross-entered in a $250k turf sprint at Philly Park today but stayed here for owners Michael Dubb and Rovert Joscelyn and trainer Rick Dutrow. He ran second on Oaks day in the G3 CD Turf Sprint to Mr. Nightlinger, possibly the early BC Sprint favorite after winning five straight such races including the Shakertown and the Arlington Sprint.
Break Water Edison, 4-1 ML, is the 5-2 favorite with 8 MTP for the Hopeful as Kimmel goes for eight straight victories.
6:20 pm: Nassau OTB switched to Italian programming shortly after they crossed the wire in the Hopeful, so I've only seen Vineyard Haven's victory once in a Hopeful that will probably bear multiple viewings. The winner, who was 9-1, outdueled Break Water Edison early, then lasted over two opponents who had miserable trips: Cribnote, who nearly bolted when he blew the turn but rerallied for second, and Munnings, who appeared to stumble and break behind the field before getting up for third.
Vineyard Haven, purchased privately off a debut victory at Calder by a partnership including Lou Lannizarro, Joe Torre and trainer Bobby Frankel, was third in the Sanford under a questionable ride from Castellano in his first start for his new connections. Today he picked up Garcia, who clinched the meet title in victory, and led all the way with a half in 45.17 and a final time of 1:23.40. The gray colt is a son of Lido Palace and the Aloha Prospector mare Princess Aloha. He was bred in Florida by his former owner-trainer, Lynne Scace.
The outcome got me alive for $1 pick-4's to all in the finale so let's go Masterofthehouse for half of $44k. That one and Rushing Stag appear the only uncovered horses in the pick-6 and would each pay $9k for 5/6. The 6/6 will-pays range from $34k on Just a Warning to $174k on Arch Hero or King Carter. Over to TVG....though it looks like they're not showing the Saratoga finale live in favor of feature stories about the all-American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs.
7:00 pm: Still can't tell you anything more about the Hopeful, and it took until 10 minutes after the Saratoga finale for TVG to show the stretch run of the race, where King Carter made it a winning meet for me with a lengthy victory at 12-1 to complete a $22k-for-$2 pick-4 and make one person's closing day $174k happier in the pick-6.
King Carter, a 5-year-old by Cat Thief, had not raced since 9/8/06, a nearly two-year layoff, but owned the field's top Beyer in his previous start. He was switching from Mike Miceli to Mike Hushion, who accounted for my other pick-4 score at the meeting five weeks ago when Over Forli won at 19-1 making her first start for him. Filthy lucre aside, Hushion had some health problems during the meet so it was nice to see him win the Getaway Race.
Belmont (which apparently isn't getting the Breders' Cup until 2011) opens Friday. Thanks for all (well, most of) your comments, and for following along. It's been so much fun I guess I'll keep this thing going, though a bit less frequently. But first: It is now cocktail time.
virgin_queen 1)my comment wasn't directed at you and 2)who cares?I'm here to talk about horse racing.
Finally able to check back in after this Gustav distraction...all is well. The final tally is in and I have beaten SAR...up $440 for the meet. I was up by a lot more after the first 2 weeks and suffered the rest of the way.....My SAR lessons: 1) bet Alan Garcia! For the 2nd straight year he has shown a flat bet profit by betting all his mounts to win... 2) watch AM Saratoga if you can. Many trainers (like Kimmel, Duggan, A Jerkens, and Barry Irwin of Team Valor) gave out live horses on the show... 3) it's the horse stupid!!! Not some obscure trainer angle that produced a bomb 4yrs ago and has lost ever since!!!... My SAR odds and ends: 1)after going 0 for the meet (and 1-40 in '07) the #1 hole in turf sprints got a winner each of the last three days of the meet-I lost each time... 2) Lukas CAN win with a FTS at SAR, but even the $100 payoff still leaves you a loser as Lukas had gone almost 60 straight without a winner... 3) Contessa still cannot win a Mdn Clm at SAR-none since 2002 meet....and finally, guys like Mott, Bush, Clement, and Motion had bad meets. Look for them to have a great BEL fall. The above four are to good to continue to win at about 8% collectively. It's the BEL-SAR-BEL dynamic and no one stays hot for all 3 meets. Mott crashed after a great SAR in '07...will the same fate befall McLaughlin this year?
Steve, Can you get us the Horse Breakdowns for the meet at both Del Mar and Saratoga? Thanks
To those of you who hated the meet, I couldn't disagree more. It's no longer a four week meet. You can't keep up the kind of quality that the intensity of a 4 week meet has in a six week meet and you can't control th weather. There were some absolutley top quality days of racing and some Really outstanding races. There were some medicore days also. But you don't have to bet every day. I suppose my enthusiasm is helped by the fact I love those 5 and 5 1/2 grass races. I've done very well with them. I attended the races on 10 days. Total of $60 for parking, and clubhouse admission. Most days I use the free parking. Every day on the way into the track a NYRA employee welcomed me to the track and wished me luck. I brought a cooler and a comnfortable chair sat under the maple in the paddock. Walked into the clubhouse to watch the races. If your a horsplayer this is as close to heaven as it gets. Last time I went to Yankee stadium it cost me $100 for the day and I didn't pay for tickets and parking. Adding those on it was a $250 day for two people, and the stadium employees snarled at me whenever I asked for anything.
Steve, Thats one long cocktail.
samg, first of all i'm not a kid..2nd of all i don't take crap from guys.
Cheers Steve! And congratulations on a winning meet. By the way, what is your cocktail of choice? Take care.
george315: I had no problem playing dimes for Arlington and Calder when I was playing other races during my time at Saratoga. I think it may be something that is changed with the ability to do dime superfectas now in NY. So the attendance and handle were down, despite NYRA trying to card more races. I bet they were expecting a down year and thus were hoping that the extra approx $500,000/race would help offset this. The weather failed to help them out. ;)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there only one takedown the entire Saratoga meet this year prior to closing day??? Maybe the stewards felt that they needed to tack on another one for good measure so that they wouldn't be viewed as soft.
Steve, I think Saratoga deserves a lot of credit for having a very safe dirt track for the 08' meeting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a single horse broke down on the dirt surface the entire meeting