09/05/2010 1:59PM

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.