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Day 5: 8/2/09
11:27 am: It's ominously gray and drizzly at Saratoga with a 90 percent (1-9) chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. All turf races still on the grass, main track fast and sealed. Time to go do "Talking Horses."
1:30 pm: Here's the clearly-starved-for-action early pick-4 play:
1:50 pm: I knew I wasn't getting the 12-1 ML on My Man Lars in the second race, not after a couple of scratches and after all three of us on "Talking Horses" picked him (including Eric Donovan, who made him 12-1 on the line. I'm not saying that our picking him was going to affect the price, but when 3 out of 3 people independently pick the same 12-1 shot to win, he's probably not really a 12-1 shot.) Even so, I tried to improve on his eventual $10.60 win mutuel with the play above, coupling him with two other opinions: 1)That Mythical Yarn (scratched opening day) was a very likely winner against a bad field in the upcoming third and 2) that the 4th and 5th races were utterly chaotic events.
But in retrospect I'm an idiot for not putting half my money into a win bet on a $10.60 horse and the rest into what is essentially a 1x1x6x11 crapshoot (with a 1x3x3x3 backup.) In the long run, all-buttons are horrendous waste of money, a blind roll into a 25 percent takeout.
2:15 pm: Mythical Yarn got there but not too impressively, taking the length of the stretch to grind by Grace's Valentine.
3:20 pm: My punishment for that idiotic pick-4 play above was watching 37-1 Heavenly Landing (pick 4: $4372 for $2) win the speed duel, get clear, then get run down late by 2-1 Magic Appeal ($474 for $2 pick-4.) While I had the AAAA ticket pressed a little, in toto I managed to turned $10.60 on My Man Lars (or $21.80 on the May Man Lars-Mythical Yarn double) into the equivalent of a big fat $9.40:
AAAA @ $2 = $18
All A's and B's @$2 = $132
CAAA @$1 = $18
ACAA @ $2 = $36
Total: $204/ $948
4:45 pm: Raining harder by the minute here. Justenuffhumor ($9.50) just took the G2 Fourstardave for his fifth straight victory since being switched to the grass after a dismal Polytrack debut last fall. The 4-year-old Darley/Mcalughlin colt by Distorted Humor was making his stakes debut after running through all of his allowance conditions, a rarity in this age of fake overnight stakes races that are nothing more than glorified N1x or N2x allowances.
I was rooting for 14-1 Mambo Meister, trained by my friend Phil Gleaves, and he looked like a winner for a moment before Justenuffhumor came through on the inside to score by 2 1/2 lengths. Mambo Meister was second by a half over Cowboy Cal, paying $14 to place and completing a $91 exacta. Kip DeVille, the '07 BC Mile winner and runner-up in that race last year, was 8th in a dismal effort.
Gleaves had noticed yesterday at the ontrack Restaurant Row stand that the Grey Gelding restaurant was serving a sandwich called the Kip DeVille. He kiddingly complained that there was no dish named for his horse in the Fourstardave. When we went to dinner at the full restaurant in town last night, the Special of the Day dinner entree was....the "Mambo Meister Salmon Platter." Only in Saratoga.
Which brings us to Restaurant Review #2: The Grey Gelding (402 Broadway) was packed and raucous on a "Hats Off to Saratoga" Saturday night, and I'd been warned by locals that it was considered a better place to drink than eat, but the chow was surprisingly good, the service was excellent, and I'd go back.
Steamed clams came in a tequila/chili broth so tasty that a refill of the breadbasket was required to sop it all up, and I enjoyed my smoked-mozzarella ravioli as much as my companion enjoyed his Mambo Meister special. A shared appetizer, the two entrees and four adult beverages came to a modest $88. Once the live music started at 9:30, conversation became just about impossible, even at the farthest table from the band in the whole joint, but the folks at the bar sure seemed to be enjoying themselves, and life in general.
5:50 pm: I preferred Miss Isella to Seventh Street in the G1 Go For Wand but boy did Seventh Street ever earn the victory a few minutes ago. In a race run in a driving, pounding rain, Seventh Street dueled early, dueled late, looked beaten when Spritely snuck up the rail to take the lead from her in upper stretch, but came back to reclaim the lead and score by 1 1/2 lengths. Miss Isela found her best stride very late, spurting to get second in a photo. Seventh Street deserved a victory not only for her trip today but for her gallant effort last time out in the G1 Phipps, where she tussled with her own Godolphin stablemates most of the way before yielding late to Seattle Smooth.
The time of 1:51.01, one race after undistinguished 3-year-olds went 1:49.05 in the overnight Curlin Stakes, reflected how much sloppier the track got in half an hour. The rain was as heavy as it ever gets up here, and that's saying something.
Oh, my God, 14 races. Oh Lord, the stinkin' weather. One writer stated, "showers." It was a MONSOON! The 1999 Gulfstream ticket office sold "seats" to patrons - mere concrete platforms adorned with rusted iron spikes, where seats that had once existed had been thrown away. I thought that record for corporate racing incompetence would stand for quite a while, & that it did. But now, it has fallen. When the thunderstorm hit, the massive pools of water that collected underneath the seats of the uppermost deck found an outlet - through a hole in the ravaged infrastructure of this dilapidated track. The waves poured through the ruptured ceiling of the tier below - drowning the fans directly below who, at 12 noon, were confident that they'd be sheltered from the impending storm. The TVG tent on the apron threatened to collapse under the weight of the water, but, unfortunately, it did not. Moral of the story: Buy a "$1,000,000" VIP tent that gets hit hard by the 2004 Kentucky Derby monsoon & collapses. Spend $100 on a rectangular blue tarp & four poles at your local hardware store, & you're dry. How could anyone not vote for Rachel as the Horse of The Year? No Luck: In the 3-horse Regent Stakes, my wife opted for Fearless Leader. Sunday Giesha was mine. The three-card monte game ended when the Ten of Spades was flipped & D'Wild Ride was underneath it. Better Luck: Chatted with a cameraman who was filming the active paddock from the 3rd floor window & discovered that he was John Hennegan, one of the two brothers who produced the wonderful film, The First Saturday In May. They're now working on a film about Larry Jones, which should be even better than TFSIM. By coincidence, John & I this year had both been at Delaware Park, on Larry Jones Appreciation Day (yep, it poured buckets on that day, too). No, Really, This Happened Next: Went downstairs to apologize to a friend who hopefully hadn't taken me seriously when, earlier, I gave him my best bet - who then finished dead last, which, of course, could not have pleased his trainer, Larry Jones. Ho boy. SRC vs. DM: I've been to Saratoga @ 15 times, and to Del Mar on three occasions. If you want better racing (but not by much after averaging in all of the inevitable claiming races that on some days reduces the oval on Union Avenue to the status of Aqueduct North) and - at best - mediocre service & facilities, SRC's for you. If, instead, you want a much more competent and caring professional staff that runs a clean and beautiful race track - at which the quality of the races at times makes you wonder why anybody is seriously claiming horses out of them - then meet me in San Diego.
To joe_davis: Thanks for the reply. I don't know how I missed that nugget of info in the past performances. I just know that I was standing there yesterday losing the race as someone else was going ballistic about the horse winning and me standing there thinking "shut up". I referred to "all" as in how Steven remarked that he and the other panelists yesterday put My Man Lars up on front. The third race superfecta [the dead heat gave me both combos] helped me make trip #1 a winning one. Thank goodness for dimes... nothing like getting $86.00 for what was a couple of dollars worth of combos.
monday selections.. race 6 silvercup baby (12-1) seems to run much better on dirt and she is back there today. also like the distance and if dance gal can get pressured up front i am look for silvercup to sweep by under the shadow of the wire at a nice price.. race 9 together indy (12-1) has good turf tomlinson and excellent turf trainer who hits at prices all the time. this horse clearly has talent and hopefully the jersey bred races will keep the price up.. looking for edgar to put just off leader and open up turning for home. hopefully we can hold off the closers .. broke even yesterday even though i had justenuff and blame.. not great money mgmt for me yesterday.. a few other quick thoughts. 1. the cards at toga have been great, cant help some rain but very pleased they kept many races on the grass that i feel would have been taken off in the past.. even the monday card is excellent with large fields and graded race.. 2. rachel was awesome yesterday. shame about the weather. monmouth really has had bad luck last couple big days there, especially breeders cup.. hope she will run in travers and then set up race at belmont where zenyatta will come.. 3. was home yesterday and internet nyra rewards was awful, kept getting logged out and cost me a couple times cause after you got logged out then you called up and were told you were locked out and you were out of luck. i shoulda stayed !!!! will be back soon..
"Oh, my God, 14 races. Oh Lord, the stinkin' weather...It was a MONSOON!" Oh, my stinkin' writing! I failed to identify the location of the event, which was Monmouth Park, on August 2nd, 2009. Well, at least we know it wasn't - it could not have been - Del Mar- Sorry!
Not since Davona Dale have we seen a dominant run of victories like this from a filly. DD won the Fantasy, Ky Oaks, BE Susan, Mother Goose, Acorn and CCA Oaks in succession before losing in the Alabama....wow. No bet but found myself cheering out loud for Rachel A...chills. Steve, your bill came to a VERY reasonable $88 for dinner, but my concern (as a partner in a small 3 unit restaurant chain) is: A) how was the service? Quality checks on each course? Waters filled at all times? Personable server, not an order taking minion? and B) what kinda tip did ya leave? I would suggest an even $20 on that 88, but I am in the business and like to tip well.
Wow....surprised to see Borel bashers. Don't confuse genuine love of the game with cockiness. Nearly an hour after the 14th and final race Borel was still in the paddock area taking pictures and signing for a throng of folks..... and thanking everyone for coming to see the filly. Never had a jock thank me for coming to the races before....class act.
Got in to Saratoga on Tuesday evening as I haven't been to an opening day in a few years. It was tough to leave on Saturday after the races as I was relishing every day of being at the Spa. The spring/summer meet at Belmont had me a bit cranky with all of its chronicled problems. But credit should be given when it is deserved and the first week of racing at the Spa was a lot of fun as there were plenty of spots to make solid bets. Reading the racing form this past week I felt like I had cataracts removed from my eyes. Lets keep it going. One glitch occurred Friday before the 2nd race as I went to the window with about three minutes to post the systems went down and no one could place a bet. I dialed my cell to call Telebet and was told the same. The guy on line behind me asked if they would delay the start because of this and I stupidly said "of course" as moments later I watched the starting gate spring open. Hey, its not perfect but I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.
About that rain that was as heavy as it ever gets at the Spa, I think your memory is shortening stride. Last year on one of the early Fridays it rained so hard that the track washed away and racing had to be canceled after the 2nd or 3rd race. And then there was Travers Day a few years ago when it started to storm during the running of the Travers and the finale that day had to be canceled. Also a few years ago (probably the same Travers Day) storms came through which wiped out electricity in a large block of the town which supposedly include Siro's (but fortunately not Chez Pierre!). That was rain! Yesterday's ~misting~ didn't even force a cancellation of the 10th.
I thought rtt's post was a tad on the "are you nuts" side but the negative comments about Borel are way over the top. You have got to be kidding me right?
Nice to see Talking Horses live and see little Andy duke it out with Eric. We were the two "kids" in the audience. NYRA's product has been exceptional especially compared to Belmont home of the 16k maiden claimer. Had the mambo in the fourstardave but the darley horse just exploded in the stretch. Looks like he'll be getting a promotion. Hope to see QR win big in anticipation of a QR vs Rachel Travers.