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Day 40: 9/6/10
Closing Day of Saratoga 2010 features eight grass races, a four-horse Hopeful, a champion taking a huge class drop, and a mandatory-payout pick-6 with three firster-filled 2-year-old maiden races.
At least it's the last time you'll have to hear me whinge about how the cards are arranged at Saratoga. Today is a doozy. It's the one day of the meeting that there can't be a carryover, and when you know the pick-6 handle will be healthy because of the mandatory payout, yet the races were needlessly arranged to keep pick-6 and late pick-4 players in the dark. Why, when there are similar-sized fields of experienced runners in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th, would you schedule a maiden race with six first-timers as the last race of the card?
The Hopeful scratched down to four because the longshots Chip Shot, Nacho Saint and Printing Press all ran in the Sapling Saturday, finishing 3-5-7 respectively.
A crucial decision for pick-4 and pick-6 players will be how heavily to lean on Forever Topgether in the G3 Glens Falls. After 14 consecutive starts in G1 and G2 races, the 2008 champion grass filly takes a step down in company while stretching out to 11 furlongs. For all the talk of how she may have lost a step or two since her championship season, this is still a mare who came within a head and a nose of winning her third stright Diana earlier in the meet, and whose six straight losses have come to much better fillies than she meets today. The extra furlong? She won the '08 BC F&M Turf at 10 furlongs going away, and today's race gives her a useful run at the 11f distance at which that race will be run this year at Churchill Downs.
Speed continued to dominate on the hard and fast turf course in the early double. Honorable Truth ($14.00) was close early, got through on the rail, and ran down Silent Stalk in 1:01.18 after the latter set fractions of 21.37 and 44.80. In the second, Yankee Fortune($7.70) got an easy lead from the rail and poured it on late, winning by eight lengths and, if the timer can be believed, accelerating late: The posted times were 24.24, 48.44, 1:12.63 and 135:38, which would mean the Yankee Gentleman gelding ran his four quarters in 24.24, 24.20, 24.19 and 22.75.
2:15 pm: Trainer Ramon (Mike) Hernandez, famed for his high-priced winners at Saratoga, sent out third-time starter Shahzadi to win in a romp at 46-1. He's 2 for 17 at the meet but those two winners paid $95.00 and $39.60 (Mine Over Matter 8/23.) Shahzadi was beaten 65 lengths in her turf-sprint debut and then was beaten 16 1/2 lengths at 55-1 in the Aug. 3 version of this statebred maiden-claimer.
2:45 pm: Same 1-2-3 finish in the Frank Sullivan as in the Aug. 3 Troy Stakes, with Awakino Cat again running down Ravalo late and Yield Bogey up for third. They went 1:01.90 in the Troy and 1:00.82 here. The tri paid $1,856 in the Troy (where Silver Timber ran fifth at 3-5) and $82.50 today.
The Frank Sullivan is named for the Saratoga-born writer (1892-1976) who was a member of the Algonquin Round Table and is perhaps best remembered for his fictional "interviews" with Mr. Arbuthnot the Cliche Expert, like this one:
3:35 pm: None of the firsters is taking any money in the first leg except for Linda Rice trainee Associate (3-1 with 6 MTP) so I'm starting out by leaning on that one and the three second-timers. Still configuring rest of play.
3:45 pm: The last Saratoga pick-6 play for 2010:
It's a four-ticket $2,112 play, with a Neanderthal all-A's-and-B's and three backups:
2,7,8,9/all/4,5,9,10/5,7/9/5,6,9 = $1,728
5,10/1,3,9,10/4,5/5,7/9/9 = $64
7,9/1,3,9,10/1,2,3,8/5,7/9/9 = $128
7,9/1,3,9,10/4,5/5,7/1,3,6/9 = $192
Obviously, I leaned strongly on Forever Together, singled on all but that final $192 backup ticket. On all the backups, I singled Voodoo Storm in the finale. I may be being sentimental because I was a big fan of his dam, Voodoo Dancer, but I loved the way he finished first time out, as if he might be something special.
4:20 pm: Second-time starters won the two baby races. I leaned the right way making Rogue Romance ($8.50) an A, the wrong way making Come A Callin ($14.20) a B. So the backups are kaput and I'm down to a 4x2x1x3 the rest of the way: 4,5,9,10/5,7/9/5,6,9.
5:00 pm: Tightest, longest photo of the meeting as 8-5 Gitchee Goomie, 4-1 Frivolous Buck and 15-1 Tutti Va Bene hit the wire together. You know which way I was rotting since I had all three in equal strength in the pick-6 but it was not to be, as Frivolous Buck won the photo from the middle over Gitchee Goomie at the rail andTutti on the outside.
Boys At Toscanova just opened at 2-5 in the Hopeful, with Wine Police 5-2, Stay Thirsty at 9-2 and Settle for Medal 14-1.
5:30 pm: Boys At Toscanova ($3.10) just won the Hopeful under a hand ride by Ramon Dominguez in a performance that suggests there's even more to him than we've seen.
The officer colt, a $35k yearling last September at Keeneland, was away a step slowly and Dominguez was content to sit third behind Stay Thirsty and Wine Police through a very mild opening half-mile in 46.38. (Maiden 2F's went 46.59 two races earlier.) DOminguez barely moved as he moved three wide on the turn, gradually took over in upper stretch, and drew clear while seemingly being geared down.
Boys At Toscanova, owned by Jay Em Ess Stables and partners and trained by Rick Dutrow, was making his third career start. He debuted in the G3 Kentucky Juvenile on the Kentucky Oaks card, finishing a fast-closing second for trainer Bob Hess, then was sold to his current connections. He returned at Belmont in July, winning a maiden race by 12 with a 102 Beyer.
6:10 pm: Forever Together a bad third at 3-5 behind Keertana and Casablanca Smile.
Looks like 26 live tickets with 6 of the 9 covered for 6/6 into the finale: 7 each at $29k to Mr. Tribute and Voodoo Storm; 6 at $33k to East Indies; and two apiece to Flyonthewall, Shadow Wood and Iwannaiwannaiwanna at $101k.
Time for an adult beverage to toast the end of a long and entertaining Saratoga meet. Thanks for following along and don't forget: Barely 115 hours to first post on Opening Day at Belmont Saturday.
Today is Saturday 9/11. TVG will not show the first 7 races from Belmont. As I am an in home player I have no access to the live signal because of NYRA's dreadful limitation of how they market the product. As far as I am concerned they can keep their signal and product.
When you are betting race for race. Ever wonder why you are always down. Even after you catch a winner you are still down. It is the 20% or more takeout that has you in that hole. Here is what you get for that 20 plus % takeout. Nothing. Bad calls by the stewards and no streaming races on the internet. I am done going into that 25 percent takeout.
I have to agree on the Hopeful, but the real problem is the fact that we didn't even have a baby race of any kind in New York until after the Belmont Stakes, the first time I believe that has ever happened, whereas out west, there were plenty of baby races at Hollywood Park, and Hollywood in fact had a stakes race (Willard Proctor) before Belmont even had its first baby race at all. That to me is a big reason why the Hopeful wound up with only four starters (as three of the seven entered chose to duck Boys at Toscanova by running in the Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth on Saturday) while the Del Mar Futurity two days later out west drew a field of 11 in spite of the presence of deservingly heavy favorite J P's Gusto, who clearly looks like the best two year old in the west after his romp on Wednesday. It's a good thing NYRA cancelled the Futurity and Matron for this year, as those races were in danger of getting very short fields as well (and Monmouth also added a revival of the Garden State Stakes for two year olds at a mile on Sept. 25 to its fall stakes schedule worth $100,000 as part of a purse structure that is far better than anyone anticipated because they were not able to pay close to the $1 million a day they planned to this summer). If Monmouth runs with anything close to the purse structure they had this year, something needs to be worked out with NYRA where perhaps the Sapling becomes part of a structured schedule where the Schuylerville and Sanford at Saratoga are moved to the turf at 1 1/16 Miles and closing weekend (while the P.G. Johnson and With Anticipation are both shortened to 1 Mile on turf and moved up four weeks each), with the Sapling and filly counterpart Sorority at Monmouth moved to eight weeks before the Hopeful/Spinaway at Saratoga with the Adirondack and Saratoga Special moved to the third weekend at Saratoga, four weeks after the Sorority/Sapling at Monmuth and four weeks before the Spinaway/Hopeful. That is the kind of cooperation that is sorely needed these days. Speaking of Del Mar, I don't think you can get any more drama than you had in the final race of the meet there on Wednesday evening. With Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano in a deadlock for the riding title going into the last race, Rosario's mount, Tiz Argent, breaks slow and is dead last most of the way and looked hopelessly beaten at the top of the stretch before Rosario rode him like a jockey possessed the last five-sixteenths to get up in the last jumps to win the riding title. That was one dramatic win there.
bobmtoga: I have been going to Saratoga for 30 years. Never mind not having a losing day all meet, the trackfacts guy (with the green hat) hasn't had a losing day in thirty years!!!!!!!!
Nice freudian slip on the 5pm post. I've "rotted" many times on close photos.
Steve- Thanks again for a very informative and entertaining Saratoga Blog. You are such a stand-out in this industry!
toga recap.. a little over 42k put thru the windows.. a little over 43k collected... plus 900 for the meet.. a tough way to make a buck...!! i also got about 900 back in nyra rewards... not bad at all..! my biggest wins were telling in the sword dancer and r heat lightning in spinaway. biggest disappointment was rachel losing .. (from a fan perspective) best race was blame winning whitney. a few other notes.. 1. still not happy that sbarros pizza is gone. 2. sound system is just awful for talking horses. it is a shame you cant hear 90% of what andy says. 3. big days had good cards. slower days cards very very shaky. 4. the older guy selling trackfacts picks at the clubhouse entrance said he had 7 winners and 5 exactas the prior day every day of the meet !!!! funny.. 5. never once ate anything at the shake shack.. i dont think i missed anything. 6. standing on green benches 3/4 way towards top of stretch is still best place to watch a race. 7. overall great meet with family and friends... 8. best investment ever was buying house at toga 6 years ago.. 9. approx 325 days until opening day 2011. !!!
Steve, The Yankee Fortune times looks questionable. With times so important to handicapping, can you explain--do they have a backup timer-do the stewards (or anyone else) ever retime a race? Whose responsibility is that? Does someone have to call it to someone's attention?
Good for Voodoo Dancer! She was an outstanding female turf horse. And she won all over the country. I became a fan of hers when she won the Beverly Hills Cap' out in SoCal in 03', beating quality locals. Having grown up in Cali, I always appreciated horses that would ship out West, like Karelian and Forever Together this year. And Steve, for sentiment Voodoo Storm didn't pay that badly.
Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Great writing and great handicapping. I will always remember the 2010 meet for Quality Road's nose defeat to Blame. We were just about to celebrate a nice score at Siros, when Blame showed don't believe the hype. Here Comes Ben in the Breeder's Cup Mile. I pounded him to win when he he went off as the second favorite against Accredit at CD, a race he dominated. When he ran in the Forego, I only bet to place, as I was scared by to many seconds recently. I didn't even bet the Daily Double with Quality Road, as you all know what happened to my Champagne D'Oro-Quality Road double. I could have got redemption, instead just another slap in the face. I love Saratoga so much. Someday I hope to retire there. Next racetrack stop for me will be down in the bayou. A place where you get beignets and chickory coffee in the morning and then an oyster po boy on the way to the track. If you win, celebrate with a great meal at the Palace Cafe or Tujacques.