07/28/2010 4:40PM

Day 5: 7/28/10




Playing from Homeatoga on Long Island today, where it's the same mostly-sunny with a high of 88 degrees that it is up north. No off-the-turfers for the first time at the meet on a downmarket but bettable card (two maiden claimers, three conditioned claimers) brightened by the G2 Lake George as the feature.

Monday's plan of a 3:30 departure time to avoid both the Albany and NYC rush hours worked to perfection. Almost. I flew down the Northway, cleared Albany and the toll plaza without a hitch, and put my brain on autopilot for a drive I've been making for 30 years. The sun was out, the skies were clear, I cranked up some new music I'd been wanting to hear, and all seemed more than right with the world.

MilmascarasAfter about 20 minutes, I whizzed past a sign saying "Buffalo - 270 miles" and slowly realized I had spaced out and driven about 20 miles in the wrong direction, mistakenly getting on I-90 West instead of I-87 south. I couldn't get off it for another eight miles, and reversed course via Amsterdam and Florida -- the hamlets of Amsterdam, N.Y. and Florida, N.Y., that is.

Did you know that Amsterdam is not only the namesake of the G2 Amsterdam Stakes, but also the home of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum? Its mission, according to its website, is to "maintain organized volunteerism that preserves and promotes the dignified history of professional wrestling." This year's inductees included Mil Mascaras (right), Wahoo McDaniel and Gorilla Monsoon.

Alas, the Hall is only open on Saturdays (10 to 4) and Sundays (noon to 4).


1:15 pm: The opener went to 9-2 Zosogood, second winner at the meet for trainer Bruce Levine after a nightmarish 1-for-47 meet at Saratoga 2009. Runner-up Reading Group might have gotten there at 37-1 but seemed to lose momentum when she couldn't get out and was forced to tackle the winner from the inside.

Kind of glad that Monday's pick-6 didn't carry over again because today's lineup is tough. My first pass through the late pick-4 left me with 6x6x8x5 open horses, so there's plenty of whittling and categorizing to do just to make a $1 four-race play. Adding the equally-difficult 4th and 5th to the mix at a $2 increment might have made things impossible.


3:30 pm: Essex Ferry, beaten a mere 48 1/4 lengths at 108-1 last time out, woke up when dropped in for $10k today to win the 5th at 14-1 for owner-trainer Roy Lerman -- her first victory inneight starts since winning here at 19-1 last Aug. 5, the last time she ran at Saratoga or under Eibar Coa.

Made a small just-in-case caveman late pick-4 -- just too many open and evenly-matched horses to make a bigger or more complex play -- and will fool around race-by-race instead. Here are three longshots I thought had some possibilities:

*6th: 2-Rushsweetcharlotte (15-1 ML) drops to a career low, is second off a long layoff, and ran well enough on turf at 2 to be competitive with routine 2-to-3 improvement. 

*8th: 5-Perfect Shirl (15-1), half-sister to Shakespeare, Lady Shakespeare and Fantastic Shirl, has been wasting her time on Polytrack and could improve sharply returning to the grass.

*9th: 4-Connie Mac (15-1) was beaten a neck in G2 company at Ascot in '08; floundered over route, slop and poly in abbreviated U.S. campaign last year; showed possible return to form in first start off 14-month layoff at Churchill last time out.


5:10 pm: So we didn't get 15-1 on Perfect Shirl but she came through to win the Lake George at 9-1. I did not include ANY of the next three finishers (57-1 Exclusive Love, 16-1 No Explaining or 27-1 Khancord Kid, who filled out a $303k-for-$2 -- $115,150.70 for a dime -- superfecta. At least I'm alive on that little caveman ticket for $1 to five of them in the finale (3,4,6,7,10).

Perfect Shirl ($20.20) was the sixth winner in eight races picked right on top today by DRF's Dave Litfin.

The trifecta came back a little light at $6k but the first three finishers were all coming off Canadian races so maybe that explains it.

Looks like there are live pick-6 tickets to three horses (the 1, 3 and 6,) though the will-pays on the simulcast feed don't make any sense -- $42,067 to the 1, $11,858 to the 3 and $35,576 to the 6. SInce that middle payoff is a third of the final one, normally I'd guess there were three live tickets to the 3 and one to the 6, but how can there then be a $42k payoff on the 1? Canadian currency?


5:17 pm: Argggh. "We have a late scratch....Number 4, Connie Mac, has been scratched." That's the pick-4 that was paying $11k. Looks like I'll get an extra buck on the favorite (currently 5-2 #10 Royal Fortune.)


5:40 pm: Broken Dreams ($10.40) won the finale to complete an $1847 pick-4 and carry $35,576 into tomorrow's pick-6. That pretty much makes moot the debut of the new $100k guaranteed pool on Thursday pick-6's during Saratoga, since the pool will now probably be more than $200k on its own.

And just so everyone's on the same page the next time there's a non-carryover Thursday: The $100k guarantee applies to the pool, not the payout. So after the 16 percent no-carryover takeout, and setting aside a quarter of the $84k balance for consos, it's really a guarantee of a $63k front-end payout.