08/31/2007 11:50AM

Go Back to Bed #2



Heavenly shades of night will be falling shortly after the nightcap Friday at Saratoga: It's Twilight Time again, with Sunset Racing and a 2:45 p.m. post. For those of you who can't get back to sleep, let's take a fond look back at Thursday's wacky card, where 5 of the 9 races were for 2-year-old fillies of clearly varying abilities: The five races included the fastest and slowest Beyers of the meet for the division, with a sizzling Baffert firster earning a 96 and a sorry field of statebred maiden claimers earning a 29 (not a typo):

Race 2: The first of the day's 2F races, for $100k maiden claimers, went to West Point/Violette Doneraile Court firster D J Lightning, who romped by 5 1/2 in 1:04.58.

Race 3: Usually when people say that a horse has character flaws and won't go by anybody be it a champion or a claimer, it's an exaggeration -- but that may be true of Hesanoldsalt, who earned the title of Meet's Biggest Moneyburner running fourth here at 3-5. Earlier this year, he ran second to Invasor in the Donn and lost photos to G1 winners Flashy Bull and Corinthian, but a drop to seemingly easier spots hasn't helped: Last time out he refused to pass Minister's Bid and settled for second at 7-5. Today it was Nkosi Reigns he couldn't put away, and then Sleek John surged to a victory over that one while Evening Attire nipped Hesanoldsalt for third. Some poor soul made a massive show bet on the favorite, setting up show prices of $16.60, $17.60 and $11.40 on the first three finishers in a field of five. Even if you were playing against Hesanoldsalt, Sleek John ($53.00) was more than a little tough to like, having finished a dozen lengths behind Hesanoldsalt last time out.

Race 4: Linda Rice firster Psycho D J (no apparent relation to race 2 winner D J Lightning) was pounded to 9-10 in this 2F Msw, but could only chase second choice Freakstein ($8.80) around the track. Freakstein, a Bernstein filly and Bill Mott's 20th winner at the meet, scored by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:04.70.

Race 5: How slow were these 2F statebred maiden claimers? So slow that Farri H., who eared a Beyer of 14 in her debut, was the 9-5 favorite and lost by just a neck. So slow that it took 7.33 second to run the final sixteenth on a pretty quick track. So slow that Schwartz firster Cape Cod Escape ($25.20) was timed in 1:07.69, 2.99 seconds slower than the previous race and 4.43 seconds slower than the next one.

Race 6: Baffert sent out his fourth juvenile winner of the meet since escaping Del Mar, unveiling heavily-tipped Indian Blessing ($3.80) with a front-running 5 1/4-length victory in 1:03.26. That clocking equals the then-record mark of 1:03.26 set by 2-year-old filly firster Secret Gypsy Aug. 12, which was lowered two days ago to 1:03.13 by Baffert's debut colt winner J Be K. Indian Blessing, a Hal Earnhardt homebred by Indian Charlie, took early command from the rail, turned back a mild challenge from second-choice Constance around the turn while in hand, and drew out late despite early fractions of 21.49 and 44.37.

Race 8: I'm nutty enough that one year I actually tried making speed figures for steeplechasers. It just didn't work, but it might have worked here in the New York Turf Writers Handicap: Mixed Up, the 6-5 favorite, was coming off a victory in the A P Smithwick where he covered the 16 1/2 furlongs in 3:45 2/5. Footlights, who was 8-1, won her prep over the same course July 26 in 3:43 2/5. And maybe it helped that Footlights, the only mare in the field, carried just 133 pounds, 29 fewer than Mixed Up. In any case, Footlights ran away from the field around the far turn and scored by 11 1/2 lengths while Mixed Up faded to fifth. Winning rider Xavier Aizpuru scored on three of his six mounts at the meet.

Race 9: Only 5 of these 10 2F statebred turf sprinters were covered in the pick six, with two $98k payoff tickets alive to favorites Sew Slippery and La Ransom and one-ticket $196k payoffs to three others. Things were looking sweet for a double carryover when uncovered 39-1 Justinline led to the stretch, but then one-ticket Bar City, a firster from Queen of the Turf Sprints Linda Rice, swept to an easy score.

This was one of those pick sixes where you look at the win prices -- $8.80, $25.20, $3.70, $5.30, $18.00 and $11.80 -- and $196k seems like a ridiculously high payoff, over eight times the $23,792 parlay. That's more than a little misleading. A blind firster like Indian Blessing was probably more like 3-1 than 4-5 in the pick six, and Footlights could have been any price in the steeplechase, a race where most horseplayers didn't know who to stab with beyond the two favorites.

I'll be back later on with the weekly Mailbag. I haven't looked at today's races yet and it's almost noon and...oh wait, still almost three hours till first post.

Rich P More than 1 year ago
Steve, your column today was a fantastic look back on the year 1987. Note that trainer Ambrose's last name is "Pascucci". His wife is an old friend of mine and would appreciate the correction, I am sure. You may even remember them from your former East Boston days.
Horserun More than 1 year ago
Steve, great job bringing back the best memories i have of racing...1987 was the best year of racing i have ever seen...The 1987 Travers was an awesome field of authentic racehorses, NO Lasix and Java Gold to me was the most under rated horse of the last 20 years and was trained by a real a horseman and owned by a great man....You can have todays horses, drugs, Todd Pletcher Stable and the owners of Curlin, its all too depressing for me
ponyman More than 1 year ago
Steve; Hope we finish out the spa with a bang Labor Day Weekend. Held my own today thanks to simu at AP & Del--ooooofer at spa. Still in + column barely- Going to get some rest and Labor hard the next 3 days. Lets keep it fast & firm--Look out-here comes the ponyman---love racing--Steve enjoy the Holiday...Frank
Tom C More than 1 year ago
About one year ago there was an artivle in the DRF about the deveolpment of software that would allow wagers to be reflected in the pools as they were made instead of input in the final flash. Do you know the status of such software?
Shawn More than 1 year ago
I must say Steve that I forgot to read the blog this morning and waltzed into my local Teletheater here at about 12:45 and then relaized I was 2 hours in front of first post!
chalkeater More than 1 year ago
Steve- Hope you "enjoyed your day(s) here at, the Spaaaaaaaaaaaa" I too have really enjoyed your BLOG and the DRF videocast of the Siro's seminars. There have been many comments about the quality of racing this season and I am in a friendly argument with a friend about the decline (at least that is my position). It seems to have been taking place for a few years now. Do you think racing is generally down at Saratoga? Or is it down across the country? Are the "Racino's" cutting into the quality? Thanks! And good luck to everyone on closing weekend!
ElAngelo More than 1 year ago
Who would win a heads up race between Hesanoldsalt and Dollar Bill?