09/06/2010 12:51PM

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.