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Day 39: 9/5/10
Quality Road's Woodward got a straightforward Beyer Speed Figure of 106, a bit low for his own standards and those of the race, which has been won by the Horse of the Year in five of the last seven years:
The only Woodwards during the last 20 years to earn figures as low as a 106 were Saint Liam's 106 in 2005 and the 105's from Lido Palace in 2002 and Lemon Drop Kid in 2000. Saint Liam was the Horse of the Year and champion older male that year and Lemon Drop Kid was the champion older male of 2000.
Two footnotes. First, the Woodward was run at Belmont until 2006, usually at the unique configuration of nine furlongs around one turn rather than two. Second, yesterday's Woodward was the only dirt race of the day longer than seven furlongs or around two turns.
Since 1994, 9 of the 16 Woodward winners have been named Horse of the Year. During that same time, only 6 of the 16 winners of the Breeders' Cup Classic have won that title.
In Saratoga's other Saturday stakes, Here Comes Ben got a 104 winning the G1 Forego in 1:22.50 (the same as Mr. Fantasy got for winning a N2x in 1:09.84), Rose Catherine earned a 93 in Lena Spencer and C. S. Silk got a 91 for the Addison Mallery.
3:30 pm: It was interesting following along to see the number of live combos after each leg of that record pick-6 yesterday at Del Mar. This is a nice innovation that other tracks should emulate. It's not only an entertaining wrinkle, but also potentially useful information: If you're going into the last two races alive 2x2, it would be nice to know whether your four combos are 4 of 50 live ones or 4 of 500.
Here was how the number of live combinations shook out yesterday:
4:20 pm: Taking it easy parimutuelly today after yesterday's doubleheader and in anticipation of tomorrow's mandatory closing-day pick-6 payout. But a little late pick-4 action never hurt anyone:
5:00 pm: Yeesh. One reason I've been treading lightly the last few days at Saratoga is races like the 8th, which just knocked me out. I tossed only four horses in a field of 12 and they ran 12th, 11th...2nd and 1st.
One of these grass races after another looks loaded with early speed, and one race after another one of the front-runners gets loose (1:13.09 here for Karen's Joy on a rock-hard course) and just keeps going. I'm not suggesting anything nefarious is going on, just that I'm clearly incapable of handicapping the early leader in these races and identifying the early leader seems the key to winning these races.
Saranac and Spinaway ahead. The day's earlier races were mostly unremarkable maidens and claimers but there were two open allowance events: In the opener, Flying Zee homebred Writingonthewall became the first three-time winner at the meet wiring an open N2x field on the grass. The victory was his third in 23 days after winning a statbred N2x Aug. 14 and an open N1x Aug. 21. In the 7th, Ash Zee ($2.70) was a runaway winner N2x winner coming off a N1x victory July 24 and a fourth in the G1 Test Aug. 7th.
6:15 pm: R Heat Lightning ($10.x0), the longest price of the three betting interests involving four Todd Pletcher trainees, ran down Baffert frontrunner Alienation to win the G1 Spinaway.
R Heat Lightning was stretching out from two 5.5f races after winning her debut at Delaware July 5 and then running second in the Colleeen at Monmouth Aug. 7 behind speedball Twelve Pack Shelly. The E. Paul Robsham homebred daughter of Trippi ran the 7f in a moderate 1:25.23 (Ash Zee's N2x victory went in 1:23.75) after Alienation cut out fractions of 44.74 and 1:11.10.
Only two of the 10 in the wide-open last race are covered, with one ticket each, so unless it's She's a Ketch (#4) or Curlina (#10), there will be a $75k carryover instead of one winner at $75k today.
6:45 pm: She's a Ketch, off 53 weeks since her debut, was yet another long-layoff winner for Chad Brown, who has won 17 races at the meeting -- six with first-time starters and six with horses returning from breaks of 45 days or more.
So no carryover into Day 40 and the mandatory pick-6 payout. The closing-day sequence includes the G1 Hopeful and G3 Glens Falls. It begins with two firster-filled baby races, one for males going long on teh grass, one for filies at 7f on the dirt.
Thank you for blogging during the Saratoga meet. It was entertaining and educational. I found myself rooting against you in the pick-6's; I guess that is human nature?
Excellent point, Steve, about Del Mar's blurb letting folks know how many were still alive in the P6; all tracks should do this if a carryover exists. I had an imaginary P6 going for over $1,000 on Saturday and had 1 winner (wow!). Reality is what sucks, though; at Saratoga Saturday, I had the all button ($38 winner) with Here Comes Ben ($22) with Quality Road ($2.60) and the 1/5/ and 8 in the 11th for a $2 P4. We know how THAT turned out (boo hoo).
Saratoga does that ALL the time on big race days, the feature is usually the only 2 turn dirt race of the day. It would be nice to see another 2 turn race before to aid in handicapping. Also as one who was alive in the pick 6 at Delmar on Friday night until the last 1/16th it was nice to see the number of combinations alive. I do wish more tracks would do this but CA seems to promote the pick 6 more and the pools tend to be bigger. It must be all the 6-7 horse fileds.
It might be time for the Racing Form to adjust its 45-day layoff line. The chicken-hearted way most trainers operate today, 45 days is bringing a horse back quickly. You want to look for the culprit for short fields, this trend is the reason. It's strictly monkey-see, monkey-do. Someof the top guys starting doing this, so everybody followed. In every race, there is one winner and seven or eight excuses. The newest is he came back too quickly. It's nonsense. Richard Dutrow has won races the past couple of years with horses coming back in less than a week. Some also might say this is a product of the Lasix-Bute, etc., permissiveness. We're breeding not entirely sound horses.
Steve, The "getout" last race of the meet monday is really sad. When is PJ Campo gonna be stopped? Maiden 2yos going two turns on grass, are you serious? The last race of the meet used to be a good race where people could fire away and try and get even. I enjoyed the spa meet, but this is an awful nightcap. Rich
Steve, thanks for the great blog from Saratoga. It was required daily reading for me. I still continue to be amazed at you handicapping skills. But, anyone who describes a Hatties chicken sandwich as a psychotropic elixir that make the consumer one with the gods, is a pure genius. You are certainly a good prognosticator, but as a writer you are the best. Much thanks.
Hey Steve, You buying Boys at Tosconova? To listen to Dutrow, you would be all in. I have learned over the years that these catch phrases especially around big races, "would not trade places with anybody" "Couldn't be doing any better" "Worked great ate up everything and is right on target" They give me a headache. Especially him. But I do want this horse to be special despite the trainer. He said on an interview with Steve Byk on Sirius two weeks ago that Dominguez said he "never worked a horse like this in his life" So what do you think Chairman of the form? Real deal? Wait and see? What is your call on the eve of his big race? George in Tampa
Hats off to NYRA for a spectacular Saratoge season. While the mid week racing cards suffered slightly they still managed full fields. The increased dining options a definate plus. Three suggestions: 1. Replace all outdated TV's. 2. To eleviate congestion on giveaway days why not open the exit gates by top of the stretch and big red spring allowing patrons to get a hand stamp and exit rather than sending them back into the teeth of the swarm. Many patrons bring giveaways back to vehicle rather than carrying them around all day. This will filter a significant portion of the traffic away and allow for quicker service. 3. I don't know the answer but the pick 4 and pick 6 scratch policy has to change. Thanks again for your dedicated blogging!!! Jim in Albany
I like turf racing as much as the next guy. Do think though that it's been pushed a little over the limit lately. Wouldn't have minded seeing another dirt race or two most days. While I'm the farthest thing from a track maintenance guru it seems incredible that in the year 2010 we are in a situation of having to plain and simple take the hand mother nature deals us in relation to turf course condition. When it rains we're washed off, within two days the course is an interstate highway. Has to be some human intervention possible, if not to keep the water off then at least to get some on. It detracts from the playability of the grass races when the courses play like they have lately, and this is far from the first time (either here or Belmont).
I agree with Steve that it has gotten frustrating when the turf races appear to be full of speed and one horse shakes loose and all the other jocks watch that one go wire to wire. No one wants to knock heads on the lead and it is brutal to try and figure out that ONE winner. I was also glad to see the reasonable comments about the racing secretary's office getting fuller fields by offering races to fit the horses on the grounds. Maybe next year, with the VLT fueled purses, the quality of horses will take a step back up!