08/01/2010 2:13PM

Day 9: 8/1/10



2:10 pm: It's a busy August 1st at the races with the Derby and Preakness winners in the Haskell at Monmouth, an $81k pick-six carryover into the Ruffian/Fourstardave card at Saratoga, and the G1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar -- so busy that I'll save the (mostly positive) review of last night's Sting concert at SPAC until later on in today's blogramming.

The Spa opener was another case of death, taxes, and Acquired Cat in a statebred turf sprint. The $50k optional-claiming provision in New York's N2x statebred allowances means that you can keep running in them even after you've won half a dozen of them if you're willing to take the low risk of being claimed for $50k. Today was the 7th time that Acquired Cat has run at the "two-other-than" level since being claimed by trainer Dominic Galluscio15 months ago, and the sixth time she's won it -- yet she's never been less than 8-5 in one of them and returned $6.00 for today's romp, her 11th career victory in 30 starts.

Think the turf here might be a little on the hard side? Acquired Cat ran her opening half in 44.28 en route to 5.5 furlongs in 1:01.08. 

In the 2nd, Asmussen firster Abide, a Tiznow filly who fetched $430k as an auction yearling last September, was pounded to even-money ($4.10) and ran like it, drowning the competition in 1:10.94.

The pick-6 starts and ends with dismal maiden-claiming races, but there are three stakes and a strong N1x turf-filly allowance in the middle. The G2 Fourstardave suffered from being scheduled against the nearly identical G3 Ocenport on the Haskell undercard. Four horses were entered in both, with only Whatsthescript staying here while Nownownow, Violin Sacre and Cherokee Artist opted for Monmouth. The restricted Curlin for 3-year-olds, a strangely redundant event the day after the Jim Dandy, scratched down to six in the absence of Miner's Reserve and Citrus Kid, while Unrivaled Belle looks odds-on in the relocated G1 Ruffian.


3:15 pm: Here goes:


3:30 pm: Aprilmayjune (4-1 ML, $17.40) slipped inside 4-5 favorite Atlantic Beauty on the turn, drew off in 1:01.56 in the maiden-claiming turf sprint to start the Pick-6. Atlantic Beauty -- an odd Lanzman/Dutrow owner-trainer combo given the I Want Revenge divorce -- was 8-5 with a minute to post, 6-5 going into the gate, and 4-5 when she rocketed to the lead before wilting and barely holding second.

My goal today was to get alive to a 2/6,11 in the last two legs and take my chances from there, so I played an all-A's-and-B's into that through the first four legs as well as the usual combos. Aprilmayjune wiped out my C's, but I'm still alive on the following two tickets:

3,5,6,8,12/2,3,6,8,9/1,6/2/6,11 and


Today's pick-6 handle was a healthy $432,039, not at all bad for just $81k in carryover bait.


5:15 pm: Lookin at Lucky just opened the heavy Haskell favorite, with $214k of the first $520k in the win pool on him. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Winslow Homer just won the Curlin by nine lengths in 1:49.64, hugging the rail through slow fractions and then running away from the field when everyone came at him on the turn.

The pick-6 has unfolded in unfortunately chalky fashion, with three straight winning favorites in It's Tea Time ($5.50), Get Stormy ($5.10) and Winslow Homer ($4.70). Alive 2x2 (1,2/6,11) but I'm not calling my travel agent.


5:40 pm: Unrivaled Belle stumbled two strides out of the gate, recovered and stalked Malibu Prayer around the track, but could never catch her and Malibu Prayer became a Grade 1 winner taking the Ruffian by 1 3/4 lengths  in 1:48.14 -- 1.55 seconds faster than Winslow Homer's time winning the Curlin by nine. Malibu Prayer was bred and is owned by Edward P. Evans, who won yesterday's Jim dandy with A Little warm and sends out Quality Road in next Saturday's Travers.

My two chalky pick-6's are paying $2,638 and $3,248.


6:00 pm: The 3-year-old division finally had its defining moment on the stretch turn at Monmouth: The Derby winner and Preakness winner head to head, with "now" horse Trappe Shot making his move behind them. Then in a blink it was Lookin at Lucky spurting away from them all for his 8th and most dominant victory in 11 career starts. He becomes the first male in the crop to win two Grade 1 races this year and a Travers victory Aug. 28 to go with his Preakness and Haskell would probably make him the first champion 2-year-old colt to repeat at 3 since Spectacular Bid in 1978-79. (Two fillies have done it since -- Open Mind and Silverbulletday -- and Indian Blessing was champion 2-year-old filly in 2007 and champion female sprinter in 2008.)


6:15 pm: Argh. Was running 1-2 in upper stretch but 2-3 at the wire as third choice Enniskillen ran down the speed to complete a $13k pick-6.

Let's turn to pleasanter outcomes: Last night's Sting concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, as lovely a venue as you can imagine for a semi-outdoor concert on a cool summer evening. This was the final stop on the North American portion of his "Symphonicity" World Tour, which resumed in Oslo Sept. 3.

He was backed by not only his own five-piece band but also by the 45-piece Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, which works well for some of his more recent compositions, less so for classic Police songs, which sound like....Police songs played by a symphony orchestra. But Sting's voice sounds strong and better than it did 20 years ago, he's an engaging storyteller, and he puts on a good show.

I couldn't remember whether there was any decent food at SPAC so played it safe and ate beforehand, which turned out to be a mistake when I walked in and saw a new PJ's Bar-b-q stand has been added to the otherwise dismal food court. It's a sad moment when you're too full for a fresh PJ's pulled-pork sandwich.

The set list:

If I Ever Lose My Faith in You, Englishman in New York, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic [Police], Roxanne [Police], Straight to My Heart, When We Dance, Russians, I Hung My Head, The Shape of My Heart, Why Should I Cry for You, Whenever I Say Your Name, Fields of Gold, Next to You [Police]

[20-minute Intermission]

A Thousand Years, Tomorrow We'll See, Moon Over Bourbon Street, The End of the Game, You Will be My Ain True Love, All Would Envy, Mad about You, King of Pain [Police], Every Breath You Take [Police]

ENCORES: Desert Rose, She's Too Good for Me, Fragile, I Was Brought to My Senses.


Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
After watching all the big races this year, it seems to me that there are less than a handful of horses who can run 110 Beyer's (for the full year up to now) on dirt at any distance a mile or longer. My mind continually reminds me that once the steroids left the game... the running times became less spectacular. I'm O.K. with this as I never thought Big Brown was that great of a runner. What this does is make me very respectful of Quality Road (E. Evans). Does your mind work in a similar fashion Steve?
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
Could not believe the stewards did not at least take a look at the start in The Ruffian, since the winner clearly broke outward and caused the stumble by UB. Realize they rarely take down a horse for interference at the break, but this clearly impacted the race and clearly was caused by the beneficiary of the stumble. Not sour grapes, did not cost me money, just curious why they did not even take a look. The new stewards reports do not apply to non-calls, I believe, one of the weaknesses of an otherwise great innovation (at least in the USA).
Turf_Johnny More than 1 year ago
I knew reading was bad for you. Chapeter 8 of "The Best of Thoroughbred Handicapping" by James Quinn is titled, "The Race was Written For Him". The notes here seemed entirely applicable to Winslow Homer in the 8th at Saratoga where the assumed mortal lock favorite actually loses a large number of times. Thinking I was being clever, I diverted a fair share of Pick 4 bankroll into the next three choices with some "savers" to WH. D'oh! 'Homer eventually wins for fun and instead of crushing the Pick 4 by AAAA with a 2x1x2x3 ticket, I get a much smaller ABAA payout. Still, the rather chalky first three legs yielded a $378 payoff for $2.
Saratoga Mark More than 1 year ago
Somehow I screwed up the late pick 4. I had it written correctly on Ticket Maker but when I punched it in I must have made an A a B or C......Anyway, I was one off. I did collect the measly pick 3 for races 7-9. I figured I'd try a little Tri/Super Key in the finale with 6 over the 3-8-11. It would have worked out quite nice if only the 6 could have held 3 more jumps. (Not as bad as losing the pick 6 like Steve but bad for me nonetheless). Back to work tomorrow (regular job) then back to work Friday-Sat-Sun (Handicapping). I so much more enjoy the latter, it only it was more dependable.....
blindskwurl More than 1 year ago
I was leaning toward the 1 and the 2 in the 9th, but ultimately singled the 2, so it didn't even matter that the 8 won the nightcap. I'm not a smart alec. But it was thoughtless of me to back a winner that left you with only conso's. What ever happened to my social skills? :) Live and learn. Here's to pleasanter outcomes...
Sean N. More than 1 year ago
Floated this thought last week--Devil May Care in the Travers? Pletchter doesn't have a viable 3 yr old colt for that race following Super Saver's clunker in the Haskell. She would probably 2nd or 3rd choice following Lookin at Lucky.
Scarlett102 More than 1 year ago
Shall we just hit the "All" button in the last race at Saratoga for now on? If the speed doesn't hold in these bottom level maiden claimers then it just seems to be bombs or semi-bombs away and no clues at all that they should be used when handicapping. Unlike the rest of the races today whether you're talking Saratoga or Monmouth:)
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, SPAC is a great place. Got back on the horse after reading that "tough beat" super/tri tix mistake. Made my problems (two noses) seem small. Went into today thinking that Winslow Homer and Looking at Lucky were the Best Bets of the day. Betting to win is not a sin! Do we have a golden rail developing at SAR? In that last the 11 never got over but sure helped cook the 6. Interesting encore on that list, no Murder by Numbers!
str3268 More than 1 year ago
tough beat Steve
AndyScoggin More than 1 year ago
WOW! Lookin at Lucky!
BALD EAGLE More than 1 year ago
people were complaining about rachel's lady's secret but compare to yesterday's haskell, an rachel's was in 100 degree heat. her race wasnt bad at all