08/01/2008 1:57PM

Day 9: 8/1/08

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2:56 pm: Apologies in advance if I'm a bit brief today but there's a Sunday column to write about the exciting bill to eliminate parimutuel withholding taxes and tonight the farewell tour by The Police rolls into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. While you can usually skip the opening act at SPAC (like when they had Jewel of all people open for Steely Dan a couple of years ago,) but since Elvis Costello (!) is opening for Sting and Co., it's an early post. At least it's not a twilight Friday, though the finally-settled-in hounds are sure acting like it is:

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(Picture above posted only because of commenter dave's concern in the previous post. You know how reluctant I am to put up their pictures.)

Not that there isn't time to gamble a little between tasks today. The first half of today's card is filled with maiden claimers and turf sprints and improves thereafter.

Today's 2nd, for $50k 3-year-old claiming fillies, was an absolute match race on paper between Casino Kay and Hope Street, but the so-called smart money leaned the wrong way. Hope Street opened at even-money with Casino Kay 2-1, but by post time Casino Kay was 4-5 with Hope Street 2-1. Casino Kay got a little worn down from an early challenge and Hope Street ($6.60) wore her down, drawing off by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:12.15.

In the third, a statebred maiden claimer for the types of horses who used to have to go to Finger Lakes to win in New York in August, 1-2 favorite Afleet Aya and 9-2 second choice Calling My Colors hooked up and separated themselves from the rest of a dismal field, but both got the staggers late and along came 0-for-12 Weekwee ($18.60) to lumber past them in 1:12.96 as neither leader could manage a sub-14 final furlong.

After Turf Sprint Empress (promoted from '07 sobriquet Turf Sprint Queen) Linda Rice ran 1-2 in the 4th with Frozen Prospect and American Cruiser, I find myself alive for a buck on a 2x5x5x4 ticket in the EP4 to 4 of the 11 maiden claimers in the 5th: 1 ($14,220 for $2), 5 ($1,022), 6($5,583) and 11 ($2,902). The 1 and 11 are Barbara and Zito firsters I guessed on -- probably wrongly, as they've opened at 17-1 and 10-1 respectively -- while the 5 (Ridge Royale) is the fig and the 6 (D'Wildcard) is the big dropdown. Looks like the firster I shoulda used is County Galway, 5-1 for Weaver/Prado at the moment.

3:20 pm: Wrong dropdown, wrong firsters. Halton ($11.80), descending from $80k at CD to $50k at Sar, dueled ridge Royale into defeat and held off firster County Galway in 1:11.34 to complete a $2,332 EP4.

5:15 pm: The late pick-4 is currently an underdog to pay more than the cost of my pair of Police tickets after Holla Bend ($5.70) gave D. Wayne Lukas his first winner of the meet in leg 1. That's still one more winner than Bill Mott had at Saratoga '08 after leg 2, when 2.00-1 Prussian came up second best to 2.20-1 first-time-Pletcher Luck Money, who just won his American debut in the Majestic Light Stakes for 3-year-old turfers. Luck Money, who earned over $1.4 million as a 2-year-old in Britain last year, including the restricted Goffs Million (pounds), covered the mile in 1:35.12. Mott and Kent Desormeaux, last year's runaway leading trainer and rider here, are currently 0-for-15 and 2-for-32 respectively at this meet.

5:50 pm: Any Limit, the longest shot in a field of five in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Stakes, just wired the field at $15.60. I couldn't use her if you'd given me four picks: She won the First Flight last time out by a neck against a less accomplished field on a wet track that seemed to move her up. Today, though, she shook unexpectedly loose early, as Miss Macy Sue checked back at the rail and Zada Belle couldn't keep up, then drew off by 5 3/4 lengths over the latter in 1:09.98.

Any Limit is a 5-year-old Wagon Limit mare bred and owned by Jerry Shields and trained by H. Allen Jerkens. She and a few of the few behind her are likely to return for the G1 Ballerina Aug. 24.

Turns out all the pick-4's are paying more than the ducats below, though not for me. The pick-6 is paying the same $64k to the three favorites (3, 8 and 10) and there will be a $64k carry if anyone else wins. Gotta go; please root against those faves, unless you need them, in my absence. Siro's seminar on the Saturday card starts at 10:45 a.m.

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11:50 pm: Excellent concert on a perfect summer evening. Here's what SPAC looks like as it was filling up and Elvis Costello began playing, just after 7:30:

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Souvenirs were dutifully purchased:

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This was one of those concerts where the audience remained standing and dancing for the entire show, due to the surprisingly high energy of The Police, who for the most part sounded great. Sting's sporting a white beard these days, but his voice is better than it was both 5 and 10 years ago. All that yoga and Tantra must be agreeing with him. It was all Police material, and just the original three lads, with no guest musicians or synthesizers. So there was none of Sting's solo work or World Music or French folksongs, though there was one pretty mawkish montage of Adorable Children Of Many Races from around the globe. Andy Summers was a disappointment (his guitar solos were reminiscent of "Jazz Odyssey" in "This Is Spinal Tap,") but Stewart Copelan was outstanding as always on percussion.

If you're going to a SPAC concert during the month, here's a tip: Eat beforehand, and not on the premises. Maybe there was some better chow hidden from plain sight, but the pizza ($8.00) and cheeseburger ($6.00) sold at the central food stands were as tasteless as they were overpriced.

The Set List, as recalled by Mrs. Blog, the real Police aficionado around these parts:

1. Message in a Bottle
2. Walking on the Moon
3. Demolition Man
4. Voices Inside My Head/When the World Is Running Down
5. Don't Stand So Close to Me
6. Driven to Tears
7. Hole in My Life
8. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
9. Wrapped Around Your Finger
10. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
11. Invisible Sun
12. Can't Stand Losing You/Contact
ENCORE:
13. Roxanne
14. King of Pain
15. So Lonely
16. Every Breath You Take

It's possible there was another encore, and if there was I'd take 4-to-5 it was "Synchronicity," but we cut out during #16, sensing it was the finale.

--Speaking of finales, I see the chalk triumphed in the nightcap, so no carryover into Saturday. Which I'd better start handicapping right about now.