09/04/2010 12:58PM

Day 38: 9/4/10


I play California pick-6's only once or twice a year, but I think today has to be one of them. With a Del Mar record $1.597 million carryover to start the sequence at 7 pm ET/4pm PT, it's just too much free money to pass up.

I'm probably dead money: I don't follow SoCal beyond its stakes racing, and have none of the insights that regular players of that circuit will bring to the table today. I'm capping my investment at $1,000 and I'm not going to get too fancy with double-reverse backup tickets and really weird longshots. I'm playing at a disadvantage against the regulars, but if the sequence is sufficiently straightforward and obvious that an outsider (if not a caveman) can do it, I might get $10k for something that would normally pay $2500.

Back at Saratoga, it's fast and firm and Pletcher swept the early double to extend his lead in the trainer standings. In theopener, Rose Catherine ($3.30) towered over the field on paper in the Lena Spencer Stakes for filly turf sprinters and got a lovely trip sitting just behind the speed and then taking over the turn. If there were any graded stakes for filly turf sprinters outside California, Rose Catherine would probably have won one. Instead, she has three ungraded stakes victories and a second in last fall's BC Juvenile Turf Fillies.

In the second, Crea's Law ($4.90) needed every step of the stretch to wear down D'Sauvage and give Pletcher his 16th juvenile winner at the meet.

The Saratoga late pick-4 has a $500k guarantee and consists of the two Grade 1 stakes sandwiched between a pair of statebred grass races. 


3:15 pm: Souper Spectacular, 3-year-old half-brother to Zenyatta, made it to the winner's circle in his third start and grass debut. The Giant's Causeway colt, a $1.15 million yearling purchase by Live Oak Plantation, stayed just off favored Baatesh early, collared him at the top of the stretch, and comfortably held off the closers. Souper Spectacular capped a $2,999 early pick-4 that began with $4.90 and $5.50 winners but then moved on to a very difficult winner in Tocco D'Oro, the front-running winner of the 4th race at $40.80.


4:40 pm: Don't Fooli Houli ($38.60) started the late pick-4 with a price and continued the run of success by front-runners and pressers on the parched turf here. DFH dueled with 42-1 Alltiffedoff from the start and they were still 1-2 at the sixteenth pole. I dodged a bullet by passing on the p4 due to a)no clever ideas in the two stakes races and b)no good ideas of any kind in the two statebred turf race bookends.

So why aren't we all getting rich playing speed on the grass? Maybe we would be if we could bet after the first quarter-mile, but it's not as if horses like Tocco d'Oro and Don't Fooli Houli are obvious lone speeds. The race DFH just won appeared to have all sorts of speed, including favored Abilio (who opened a 16-length early lead and still won last time.) Maybe the time to profit will be if Belmont gets some rain this fall and we have very different footing than that which prevailed almost every day of the Saratoga meet.

On to the Grade 1's. The Vineyard-Haven-Girolamo entry opened 8-5 in the Forego, with Warrior's Reward a clear second choice at 5-2 and Bribon and Big Drama each 5-1.


5:30 pm: Here Comes Ben, making his graded-staakes debut off two good-figure 7f victories at Chuchill Downs, ran down Big Drama to win the Forego and give trainer Charles LoPresti his first G1 victory. The winer got a perfect ride from Alex Solis, previously just 1 for 38 at the meet riding mostly longshots. The pace was mild at 45.29 for the half -- 2-year-old maidens went 45.64 and Mr. Fantasy cut out a half in 44.58 en route to winning a N2x allowance -- which didn't help teh deep closers like Warrior's Reward (4th) and Bribon (6th).  


6:15 pm: Quality Road is a very good horse and he did what we had to winning the Woodward over an overmatched field in 1:50 flat for 9f. Maybe he wasn't fully cranked for what shaped up as a virtuaa walkover, but he didn't seem to have quite the same dazzle and dominance that he did earlier this year. Velazquez kept busy on him in upper stretch after taking over on the turn, and while he finished evenly with victory assured, he didn't inspire any confidence that he'll be able to hold off the best in the  country going 10 furlongs in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Despite a couple of big prices, 8 of the 10 in the finale are covered (1 to 5 live tickets on each) with a $104k carryover only if #1 or #2 wins the 11th.


6:30 pm: Favored City Train went to the front and was never challenged, winning the finale to complete a $2277 pick-4 and a $21k pick-six on five winning tickets.

Here's that Del Mar play, where I came in $28 under budget for a $972 stab that goes like this:

Need 6 A's or 5 A's and one C. If I get through the first two legs unscathed, I'll buy some insanity insurance in the pick-4. Best of luck to us all.


8:30 pm: Halfway home, and I'm deeper late than I was early, though that's because the races get tougher.

By my reckoning, with an AAA start I've got 63 live combos:

AAAAAA: 2,6,7/1,2,8/4,8

AAACAA: 3,10,12/1,2,8/4,8

AAAACA: 2,6,7/4,6,7/4,8

AAAAAC: 2,6,7/1,2,8/1

As promised, I bought some insanity-insurance in the pick-4 on the two- and three-C's combos:

ACCA: 1,2,9/3,10,12/4,6,7/4,8

ACAC: 1,2,9/3,10,12/1,2,8/1

AACC: 1,2,9/2,6,7/4,6,7/1

ACCC: 1,2,9/3,10,12/4,6,7/1

That's 135 combos.


8:55 pm: Down to a 3x2 (1,2,8/4,8) after much-the-best Tell a Kelly ran down Wickedly Perfect to win the G1 Del Mar Debutante. That's what I get for not making the top Beyer fig an A.


9:35 pm: Well, at least there won't be any withholding if the #4 Magic Lantern ($4,163) or the #8 Snovember ($3,944) get there. Let's go chalk!


10:00 pm: Never mind. Second and third.

Fifteen hours to first post at Saratoga.