09/03/2010 3:52PM

Day 37: 9/3/10

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Waiting for Hurricane Earl, which is heading north and expected to hit Long Island with enough wind and rain that they've already cancelled tonight's "Dukes of September" Fagen-McDonald-Scaggs concert I was planning to attend at Jones Beach. So while trying to get a refund from the ticket broker in Utah I bought the tickets and parking passes from on Wednesday, I at least can watch the entirety of Friday's twilight card, which began at 2:30 and is scheduled to conclude with the 9th race at 6:56 p.m.

They just ran the first of the afternoon's two stakes races, the $70k Saratoga Dew for statebred filly dirt routers. Wicked Diva got loose through 6f in 1:14.14, had a daylight lead with 100 yards to go, then held on by a nose in a three-way photo over the surging favorites Banker's Buy (8-5) and Don't Forget Gil (5-2).

Saratoga Dew, owned by Charles Engel and trained by Gary Sciacca, was the nation's champion 3-year-old filly of 1992, the only year she raced. She won 8 of 11 starts that year, including the G2 Comely, the G1 Gazelle and the G1 Beldame by six lengths over Versailles Treaty, earning a 108 Beyer. In her only start at Saratoga she was beaten a nose by November Snow in the Alabama.

Today's other stakes, the G3 With Anticipation for 2-year-olds on the grass, is named for one of the best American grass horses who never won an Eclipse Award: With Anticipation, who won 15 of 48 career starts and over $2.6 million in an eight-year career for Augustin Stable and trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

It's a little odd to name a juvenile grass race after a horse who made his turf debut at 3 and ran so indifferently that he didn't try the grass again until he was 6, but once he returned to the weeds he had two remarkable campaigns: As both a 6-year-old in 2001 and a 7-year-old in 2002, the gray son of Relaunch and Fran's Valentine swept the G1 United Nations at Monmouth, the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga and the G1 Man o'War at Belmont. Both years, however, he lost the Breeders' Cup Turf to Europeans who won the Eclipse Award as champion grass male -- Fantastic Light in 2001 and High Chapparral in 2002.

 

5:00 pm: Second dq'd winner of the meet as 9-2 Albertrani firster Palooza (Castellano) finished first but was placed second behind Violette second-timer Overseas Market (Dominguez) for moving three paths out and in front of the runner-up nearing the wire. It was a close call: No question Palooza changed lanes, but she was about exactly a length in front when she did and it's not clear that Dominguez had to alter course. Tough takedown for Palooza, who did all the early dirty work dueling for the lead, won the battle, and still made it under the wire first.

 

5:25 pm: 2-year-old filly Winter Memories ($7.50), well-bet Toner firster by El Prado from the excellent grass filly Memories of Silver, finished strongly to win first time out at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. Her 3-year-old half-sister, La Cloche (by Ghostzapper), won earlier at the meet. 

 

5:55 pm: Count Catamount, more than twice the price of any of his rivals, opened the door for a pick-6 carryover into Woodward Day winning the 7th at $72.50.

 

6:00 pm: Today it's "Turismo and Turisti" that Cablevision just switched to at the stroke of 6 o'clock. Did someone miss the memo about twilight racing?

 

6:14 pm: Just looked up and Saratoga's back on Channel 74.

 

6:30 pm: So both of this week's grass stakes for 2-year-olds were won by maidens. On Wednesday it was second-timer Fancy Point winning the P. G. Johnson, and today it was third-timer Soldat ($19.40) looking very good winning the G3 With Anticipation over favored Powhatan County. Soldat, a War Front colt trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, was second in both of his prior starts in sprints on wet tracks to runaway winners: Bail out The Cat in June at Belmont and Hopeful entrant Wine Police at Saratoga in July.

Still no hurricane weather here five miles from Belmont Park but the sky grows ever more ominous and the wind is picking up.

According to the willpays NYRA just posted, there are three combos alive in the pick-6 going into the finale at a pool-scooping $83,770 each. Prince Will I Am, the 5-2 favorite, is covered but so apparently are currently 14-1 Thunder Perfect and 16-1 Thabazimbi. the eighth and ninth choices in a field of 10. This seems goofy, as does the possibility that if Thabazimbi wins, the $83k pick-6 will pay less than the $137,956 pick-4.

 

7:05 pm: Thabazimbi came out flying in the 11-furlong grass finale, opening what looked like a double-digit lead down the backstretch before packing it in at the top of the stretch. Prince Will I Am had cut the corner and looked ready to charge to the lead but was cut off by the tiring Thabazimbi and checked sharply. He looked like he might be off the board but Prince Will I Am somehow regathered himself and rerallied to win, outfinishing Slambino.

So one pick-6 winner at $83,770, a few more pick-4 winners at $19,445, and no carryover into Saturday. Rats. But it's a compelling 11-race card including the G1 Forego (9th) and G1 Woodward (10th) and I'll be back in earnest action.