07/28/2008 2:59PM

Day 6: 7/28/08


2:30 pm: Day Six got off to a rocky start when Successful Affair, part of a 4-5 Contessa entry in the opener, freaked out and threw Ramon Dominguez at the gate, forcing a late scratch and a radical realignment of the tote board as entrymate Tergesti ran for purse money only. And, of course, led all the way as a non-betting interest. The winner for parimutuel purposes was runner-up Lorccan, whose price was cut in half to 5-1, but you have no right to complain if you had him since he didn't win the race.

The only solution to these purse-money-only situations is to uncouple all entries, but the state Racing and Wagering Board has consistently been reluctant to do so.

Race 2, a statebred maiden claimer, was a delight at least for racecaller Tom Durkin, whose favorite horse to pronounce -- Arrrrr -- finally won a maiden race in his 13th career start. There are only five r's in Arrrrr (try saying that out loud) but Durkin calls him as if there are 20.

In the 3rd, Wanderin Boy became a millionaire in his 22nd career start, winning a high-grade allowance race. Wanderin Boy -- Nick Zito's other 7-year-old wonder, besides Commentator -- dueled with Mr. Umphrey through a moderate half, won the battle but looked like he might lose the war to stretch-runner Gold Trippi in mid-stretch, then spurted away to score in 1:21.87.

There were rare front-running turf winners here in the 4th and 5th, as Cagey Girl wired a field of statebred allowance routers at 22-1, and then 2-year-old filly firster August Rush (by Milwaukee Brew) took them all the way to give the Ward/Trujillo combo their third winner of the meet.

Today's stakes race named for a 19th Century Saratoga resident is the $80,000 Lillian Russell, the singer, stage actress and longtime companion of the extravagant gambler Diamond Jim Brady. The other stakes on the Monday card is the Grade 2 Amsterdam, where Kodiak Kowboy, last year's Saratoga Special winner, will be strongly favored and can't be opposed with any confidence. Still, off a three-month layoff, a barn switch from Asmussen to Larry Jones, and the possibility that he's merely being prepped for the G1 King's Bishop, I might try to beat him with Fidelio, a lightly-raced Stronach/Frankel/Awesome Again colt who has started only five times and may have more potential for improvement.

I'm abandoning y'all for the last few races today as I'm going to try to beat Albany rush-hour traffic and drive back to Lawn Guy Land for a couple of days, returning Wednesday with the rest of the household. I'll recap the rest of the card and post any thoughts on Week One tomorrow.

Postscript 11:55 pm: You know what took all the sting out of a long drive home down the thruway? Remembering a few minutes ago that I'd played the late-pick-4 before heading out. Here was my $320 play:

Race 7 Main: 4,5,9,11; Backup: 2,3,6,10
Race 8 Main: 1,3,7,9; No backups
Race 9 Main: 5,6; No backups
Race 10: Main: 11,12; Backup: 1,2,4,7

That comes out to three tickets:
Main: 4,5,9,11/1,3,7,9/5,6/11,12 @$2=$128
Sub7: 2,3,6,10/1,3,7,9/5,6/11,12 @ $1=$64
Sub10: 4,5,9,11/1,3,7,9/5,6/1,2,4,7 @ $1=$128

Just checked the results. The 11-9-5-7 combo, which appears on the final ticket, paid $37,481 for $2, or in my case $18,740.50 for $1. Nice way to end Opening Week.