08/01/2009 10:50AM

Day 4: 8/1/09


10:50 am: Hot, sunny, track "good," turf "good," only the second race is off the turf. There's a $126k pick-6 carry, a $500k guaranteed late pick-4 and an excellent card.

I'm the guest on "Talking Horses" today and tomorrow, and a live stream should be available on the NYRA website if you click here. There are a few other nice customer-friendly innovations available on their site, including NYRA photo-finish pictures and race replays (the latter for NYRA Rewards members only), and turf-course updates, which would have told you at 6:48 this morning that only race 2 was off the turf.

1:30 pm: The early part of the card looked pretty chalky to me, so I'm making the following little stay-out-of-trouble early pick-4 play for background action while I work on the pick-6:

SARATOGA EARLY PICK-4 8/1/09               Graphics via TicketMaker


For each $48 invested, the tickets break down as follows:

AAAA: 9/10/4,6,7,10/1 @$5 = $20

CAAA: 4,11/10/4,6,7,10/1 @$1 = $8

ACAA: 9/5,7/4,6,7,10/1 @$1 = $8

AAAC: 9/10/4,6,7,10//3,8,10 = $12

2:00 pm: The day's first two races -- a $20k older-male claimer and an off-the-turf older-male maiden-special -- are worth keeping in mind because they're two of the three dirt routes on the card before the Jim Dandy and thus will be key points of comparison in gauging the time of that race.

In the opener, Commodore Way got a nice stalking trip just off a sharp pace of 1:11.79 and finished in 1:49.79. In the second, odds-on Hoopoe came from off a slower pace of 1:13.01, shot past the field into the stretch turn with a big lead but tired late and just held off third-time starter Zimmer in 1:51.46. The two races don't fit together perfectly, but for argument's sake let's say Commodore Way ran a career-best Beyer 95 and Hoopoe fell off his recent form and ran around a 75. If those are reasonable estimates, you would expect to see the Jim Dandy final time be under 1:49.

2:15 pm: Feh. I "picked" Dixieland Star second to William Thomas in the third race, but left him off the pick-4 play expecting poor value as the 7-2 second choice. My thinking was that if I went to a C in this spot, where I thought the favorite was close to a cinch, I wanted it to be a price horse, not a 7-2 that probably wouldn't even get me my money back with 3 other A's, I also thought that if William Thomas lost, it would be because of a speed duel that would reward a closer like my longshot backups Brave Soul or Phantom Gunslinger, rather than another front-runner such as Dixieland Star. Unfortunately, Phantom Gunslinger was feeling frisky off a nine-month layoff and made the early run at William Thomas, setting the table for the change-of-tactics Dixieland Star. Minus $144. Back to work on the pick-6.

3:15 pm: Make that "well, well under 1:49" as a likely Jim Dandy time after 1-for-9 Retriever just won the N1x 5th race in....1:49.01. Retriever completed a $4321 early pick-4.


3:30 pm: None of the firsters is being bet, making big-fig second-timer Discreetly Mine headed for even-money or below. Putting most of my pick-6 eggs in his basket.

3:45 pm: ...and most of those eggs just broke. 4-5 Discreetly Mine, softened up by a protracted challenge from 27-1 Contessa firster Eightyfiveinafifty, won the battle but then got the staggers late and 8-1 Lukas second-timer Dublin swept to victory over late-running 11-1 Hockley,  Eightyfiveinafifty and Discreetly Mine dueled through an insane half of 44.21 before tiring to run third and fourth in that order.

Dublin, a son of first-crop sire Afleet Alex, emerged from a June 11 Churchill Downs maiden race that has to be called a super-key race: The first five finishers have now all returned to win their next starts including Backtalk, who took the Bashford Manor and Thursday's Sanford in his next two starts:


(Graphic above from DRF Formulator, where you can click on a pp line, look at a race chart, and click again to see how each horse did in his next start. Next-out winners in italics.)

As you can see from the grid below, I used Dublin as only a C, so I'm alive by a thread on a single CAAAAA backup ticket that goes 2x2x1x3x3 the rest of the way: 8,12/5,6/10/3,4,5/1,4,6.



The $126,281 carryover attracted an additional $500,349 in pick-6 wagers today.

4:30 pm: The thread lives on. Sette E Mezzo wore down Picou in deep stretch to win the second leg as the second choice while favored Winchester was dawdling in last early before rallying only mildly. For all the water the course took, the field ran the final five-sixteenths in 29:40, "Sette E Mezzo," in case you were wondering, is Italian for 7 1/2, and the name of an Italian card game similar to blackjack.

5:00 pm: Halfway home after Chestoria powered to vicory in the Lake Luzerne for statebred fillies, which was also the first leg of the late pick-4. NYRA easily met its $500k guarantee on the bet, handling $834,279. On to the day's important racing, the G1 Diana and the G2 Jim Dandy,

5:35 pm: There's nothing quite like watching a champion win a grand old race at Saratoga, whether or not youre singled to her in the Pick-6. Forever Together, the nation's reigning champion grass filly, won her second straight G1 Diana, storming from next-to-last to edge a game Carribean Sunset.

And now the Kentucky Derby winner's running in 15 minutes. At Mountaineer Park.

5:50 pm: Five minutes after upsetting Big Drama and Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby with Soul Warrior, Steve Asmussen sent out Kensei to win the Jim Dandy Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths over Warrior's Reward and Charitable Man.

I'm so glad that when asked about the West Virginia Derby at the seminar today, I said I'd looked at it only long enough to see that it was a race between "Mine That Bird, Big Drama and four guys named Joe." The Joe a/k/a Soul Warrior, a five-length loser of the Iowa Derby last time out, simply outfinished Mine That Bird as both were gaining on an exhausted Big Drama, and the Kentucky Derby winner flattened out to settle for third.

Kensei kept that thread alive into the last leg, where I'm alive to Hype ($7,200), Cardiff Road ($43,411) and Liscarroll ($23,797). Here's hoping. 

6:25 pm: Liscarroll second at 6-1. Cardiff Road third at 9-1. Tough game. But there's no better place to play it.

Cary Krosinsky More than 1 year ago
Why the Spa should go All-Weather/Polytrack/Tapeta or equivalent Year after year, the heavy rain ruins the dirt races The highlights of the meet for me are always the turf & jump races 2 year olds would benefit from the kinder surface - as wouldd the reputation of racing to be seen as trying to do all it can for the health of the animal The Whitney & Travers would do just fine on the poly - as would the remaining non-grass races, which as a result, would suffer less scratches hence bigger fields on average Hence better racing and a better experience for all
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Equanimity. Steve, you've got in it spades. I don't possess much of it at all. Liscarroll's beat only cost me the late P4 and I was bummed. I thought it a nice example of the A/B/C theory though, in that you were able to survive a C in the first leg and take it right down to the wire in the last race. Hit 'em for twice as much next time! With a card and weather like Saturday I don't know how much better it can get. Kudos to NYRA for a tremendous card. Now if mother nature would only cooperate a little more frequently. Your illustration of Formulator's ability to give key race info like that applying to the Lukas horse causes me to ask if you've ever thought about DRF Press issuing a "Formulator For Dummies" title? I could use it. bobm_toge: Hope you keep putting the picks up. I;m enjoying the heck out of them. walt_ p: Enjoy your posts, but enough with the lights already?
C More than 1 year ago
"Is Charitable Man just purely overhyped or still finding himself?" The former. "Del Mar, great beach action but way too many claiming races for me." They could just invent and card more "stakes" races and have the current claimers fill those, but it wouldn't change the inherent quality of the stock there. You can change the title of the race, but can't change the quality of it. Sadly, that's what most tracks have been doing for the last few years.
Florida Larry More than 1 year ago
So nice to see Harvey on the [webcast] seminar with Dan. It now really feels like Saratoga. May the horse be with us.
tonykelso More than 1 year ago
Saratoga is the best! If only racing dates were more limited across the country so high quality racing could be had for more than 6 weeks in July and August at the Spa and 6 weeks at Keeneland (Poly or no Poly it's still solid)...Del Mar, great beach action but way too many claiming races for me.
Bruce Friday More than 1 year ago
Well, I did learn the answer to a key Saratoga question today. How many NYRA employees does it take to change a light bulb? Perhaps in response to complaints on this blog regarding the Saratoga Tote Board, NYRA had 5 workers with ladders out replacing the bulbs in the infield tote board today. After about an hour, they looked at the 68 bulbs they had replaced and then looked at the 45,932 bulbs to go and gave up for the day. It's a good thing there are twenty-four and a half years left on the NYRA franchise.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Posted this in the Illman Blog as well, but I thought it was relevant to what was mentioned on the lack of TV coverage (aside from FSN's telecast of the WV Derby): Today (Saturday) was a great day of racing that continues this evening with the Hambletonian Eliminations (that I am watching as I'm writing this) from The Meadowlands (this is the first time in years that the Hambo final and Haskell are not on the same weekend, there in fact had been for years a Hambo-Haskell double). Watching this and seeing all the racing while also knowing this is not exactly a highly-rated TV night, it sets up a perfect opportunity for the sport to get on in PRIME TIME on a Saturday night next year on ABC. This could be dubbed "Win and You're In Saturday Night," a four-hour (7:00-11:00 PM Eastern Time) made-for-TV night of racing from all over the place that would feature 9-11 races that not only guarantee the winners spots in the Breeders' Cup, but with the added twist of having ALL FEES PAID for the BC Races as well. Here are the races I was thinking of for such a broadcast next July 31 (corresponding date with this year): Saratoga: The Alfred G. Vanderbilt (Sprint), Diana (F & M Turf) and Go For Wand (Ladies Classic). Obviously, one of these three races would be run close to dark at The Spa as it would have to be a little past 8:00 PM locally to fit in such a telecast (with all three in the first 75 minutes or so). Penn National: Pennsylvania Governor's Cup (Turf Sprint) Emerald Downs: Longacres Mile (Dirt Mile) Del Mar: Cougar II (Dirt Marathon), John C. Mabee (Filly & Mare Turf), Del Mar Mile (Turf Mile), Eddie Read (lengthened to 1 1/2 Miles, Turf) and San Diego Handicap (Classic) Mountaineer: West Virginia Derby (Classic). This to me had the makings of an 11-race, made-for-TV presentation that can be a big night for the sport following the Triple Crown events.
ralph conte More than 1 year ago
Steve, whats up? You did not talk about the cheese waffles yet. Do you still get them when you go to saratoga? I know you were talking about them the last two years. Ralph
Raleigh Boys More than 1 year ago
Thanks to the Ticket Maker we were able to play into our budget with the A,B,C system and won the Pick-6 on the first Saturday of Saratoga for the second year in a row! Damn, this is a great game!
Larry Thiel More than 1 year ago
I love what they're trying to do with the "Inside Post" but the rest of the bloggers could take a lesson from you on how to make it entertaining.