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.

Seeking the Gold More than 1 year ago
Mr. B52, So you are the one who watches olbermann's show. I always wondered who that 0.1 rating point was.
C More than 1 year ago
Lower-percentage barns want to attract new clients whenever possible and the bottom line for many of those decisions is win percentage. If such a barn feels they have a shot to win a race, they're going to take the win to boost their percentage. Entering another horse makes it a 50/50 split in the best case, and 2 losers instead of just 1 in the worst. How much can entering another (seemingly better) horse improve the payout anyway? If the longshot looks that bad, their odds will be pretty long no matter what. If the difference between the stablemates is less dramatic, how do the connections even know which one the public will back? If they're both longshots, where's the smoke? If they're both getting bet, they must have some merits on their own, so why blame the connections if you missed something? Here's a tip: side with the one who fits the race better in terms of distance, venue, time between starts, and class level. If you really have a fear that one of them was thrown into the race as a distraction, they probably won't fit the conditions quite as well. I'm not naive enough to think that there isn't some questionable stuff happening on the backstretch at every track, but the irrational fear of uncoupled entries is mostly paranoia, IMO.
ElAngelo More than 1 year ago
The problem with uncoupled entries is that there doesn't seem to be a consistent rule for when they should and shouldn't be coupled. Even Steve argued this in a column in the form after the 2005 Breeders Cup when he said that Better Talk Now should have been coupled with Shake the Bank because STB was just a rabbit. That's fine in theory, but do we really want the stewards and racing secretaries trying to read tea leaves as to the purpose of each horse entered? I actually think the system of coupling horses in non-graded stakes races works fine. What needs to be fixed is the idea that when half is a late scratch and the remaining part becomes purse money only, your bet in P4's and P6's automatically shifts to the post-time favorite. That's wrong and unfair. It should be a designated backup entry, a consolation payout, or a flat-out refund.
zapper27 More than 1 year ago
Steve, next time post your plays before the races go off, so we can all get a piece, thereby lowering your profits and increasing ours!!
C More than 1 year ago
Correction to my last post: That should read "if the posttime favorite doesn't run 2nd", not Lorccan. It happened to me.
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Congratulations on that pick 4 !!! I played those races individually, but did not attempt a pick 4. With my very limited bankroll, there is no way I would have even come close. I did have a win on the 15 to 1 Royal Skip in the last race which got me well for the day. Could you let us know what you liked about Over Forli ?
jcp More than 1 year ago
Great P4 hit...I, too, would love to know what pointed you to the Hushion horse...
AndyScoggin More than 1 year ago
WOW, nice pick 4, STEVE!!! Only 20 days until the Washington County Fair and a bucket o' fries!
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Travers, I had Unflagging and here's why: last year Weaver and Channing Hill combined for a $44 winner on the turf here at SAR. If you follow the Spa you will know that Weaver is the sneakiest SOB up there...time and time again he sends out 20-1 plus winners on the turf....his ROI at SAR is excellent....I will admit though that Unflagging was not a perfect fit for the Weaver profile, I had to use him anyway (it's the only race I hit yesterday). The owner of that horse is foreign to me and Weaver isn't known for his FTS success, but....
peewee More than 1 year ago
Nice hit on the P4. I wonder how many of these I'd cash if I played $320 tickets ? Can't argue with the results though. One of the reasons i stopped playing small p6 tickets years ago; too small a bankroll. One reason i play more p3 than p4's now too. Congrats on the hit.