08/11/2007 10:10PM

Dirty Pictures


I'm still reeling from a couple of horribly expensive photos at Saratoga and Arlington today, but after a surprisingly good and cheap Indian dinner and a pleasant stroll down Broadway, I am at least sufficiently soothed to recount for you the dreadful events of the afternoon.

Day 16 was a schizophrenic one at Saratoga, as illustrated by an early pick-four payoff of $41.20 and a late pick-four payoff of $78,050. Along the way:

*Race 2: The Leopard and Immortal Eyes, second and third to Fed Watcher at Belmont June 30, led a field of expensive firsters on a merry chase in the Saturday baby race. The Leopard ($3.20), a $2.5 million Storm Cat 2yo-in-training purchase owned by the Coolmore gang and trained by Pletcher, had finished well along the rail in his debut to Fed Watcher, who then set the pace before tiring late in the Sanford. Today, The Leopard was inside again but then swung out in the stretch and just ran down Immortal Eyes in the final yards. You'll hear from both of them again: The Leopard ran six furlongs in 1:09.80, good for a Beyer of 94.

*Race 3: In the absence of Accountforthegold, who would have been 2-5 but was a late scratch due to a foot problem, Naughty New Yorker ($6.00) romped by 7 lengths in the $80k Saratoga Sunrise for statebreds. It was eerily identical to what happened a year ago when the equivalent of this race was called the Noble Nashua: Both times, Naughty New Yorker was rebounding from a dull last-out race in the Evan Shipman at Belmont and switching pilots from Samyn to Prado.

*Race 5: After favored Spurred ($5.30) won the 4th, odds-on second-timer Midnight Slammer ($2.90) completed that $41.20 pick-four beating statebred 2-year-olds by three lengths in 1:11.51.

*Race 7: I had gone three-deep here in both a small pick-six play that was still going, and in the late pick four, with equal-strength "A's" of Equitable at 11-10, Uncle Indy at 3-1 and Grand Strike at 14-1. The two favorites both had worse trips than the Titanic, which would have been just fine for me since Grand Strike ran a big one at the rail and looked home with a few strides to go. Then somehow Senor Enrico, an especially hard-to-like 42-1 shot from the only Hall of Fame trainer in the race, Leroy Jolley, got his head down first to beat Grand Strike by a neck in a race where literally 1 1/2 lengths separated the first eight finishers. With the favorites running fourth and sixth, there was a $1030 exacta and a $10,148 tri, neither of which I had. What I would have had if Grand Strike had won, as things developed, was a pick-six conso and a $1 pick-four. With a 14-1 instead of a 42-1, they would not have paid the $33k and $78k that they did, but they wouldn't have been entirely shabby either.

Race 9: A weird rendition of the Sword Dancer, with English Channel a legit 3-5 in the absence of early scratch Better Talk Now, The early pace was extraordinarily quick for a 1 1/2-mile race -- 22.66, 46.49, 1:11.22 -- and he who waited longest to move into it fared best: Calvin Borel, who kept Grand Couturier last for a mile, waited for Trippi's Storm to surge to the lead in upper stretch, waited for English Channel to take over in midstretch, then shot up the rail to win going away at $33.20. (There are some great quotes from owner Marc Keller in David Grening's reporting on the race.)

After Grand Couturier won, there were no live pick-six tickets, and there was just one winning 5-of-6 conso, worth $33,797. Carryover of $101,391 into Sunday.

--Things went from excruciating to migraine-inducing when I played the Stakes Festival pick-three at Arlington. My primary punch was a 1x3x5 part-wheel singling Shamdinan in the Secretariat; using Irridescence, Lady of Venice and Honey Ryder in the Beverly D.; and everyone in the Million except favorites The Tin Man and Sunriver, whom I hoped would hook up and set the table for a closer.

Thing started off beautifully when Shamdinan ran down Red Giant to win the Secretariat, though I had the nagging thought that I was an idiot for not betting a nickel to win at $11.80. They continued to look beautiful as Iridescence looked home free at 9-2 in deep stretch of the Beverly D. but along came Royal Highness to win by a head. Then of course Jambalaya upset the Million to complete a $1055.20 for $2 pick-three that had to be paying $500 through Irridescence.

Do you notice something similar about the winners of yesterday's four Grade 1 grass races, which were run at distances from 9.5 to 12 furlongs?

Royal Highness(Ger)
Royal Couturier(GB)

Every one of them was bred outside of the United States.

--Restaurant Foray #4: This was actually also Foray #1a, but I didn't think it fair to review Little India on the basis of my initial disappointing experience there because it may have been my fault: My dining companion had requested that everything be prepared "mild" rather than "medium" or "spicy," and the result was a succession of dishes that tasted like strained baby food. We returned tonight, stepped up to "medium," and it was a revelation of flavors. So was the check: appetizers, breads, one shared entree of Chicken Bhuna and two beers ran all of $38.20. You're not paying for the virtually non-existent ambience and decor or the erratic and confusing service, but if you're in a hurry for some good, cheap food, it's a winner.

--The most exciting horse running on Sunday's card is a New York-bred, but he's not in the featured West Point Handicap: It's a 4-year-old gelding named Posted, who may well go off at even lower than his ML odds of 2-5 in the fourth race. Posted earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 111 winning a statebred maiden race at
Belmont July 14, scoring by 13 3/4 lengths. The only higher sprint figures earned in North America this year belong to open-company stakes-winners Fabulous Strike, High Finance, Confucius Say, Smoky Stover and Idiot Proof. You would think Posted should handle tomorrow's statebred N1x company, where the next-highest career-best figure is an 85.

Posted's fig looks completely legit. He got away with a relatively easy lead (and figures to do so again in Sunday's paceless field) but his final time of 1:15.17 for 6 1/2 furlongs was spectacular. Open $10k claimers ran the same distance half an hour later in 1:17.40, and the third- and fourth-place finishers behind Posted have already come back and improved on the figure they earned in defeat.

Unfortunately, Posted runs one race before the pick six starts, so no free bingo squares. Time for some coffee.