08/02/2009 10:28AM

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.