09/03/2007 6:58PM

The Invisible Finale


So there I am, 0 minutes to post for the 348th and final race of Saratoga 2007, alive in the pick-4, alive for 5-of-6 through the back door, and heavily involved in getaway-race tris and supers. The field is moving into the gate: And they're.....speaking Italian?

Yes, the geniusses at Nassau OTB, or maybe a pre-programmed robot, hit the button at 6:00.01 p.m. to cut away from Saratoga to RAI International, the two hours of canned Italian-language programming that usually follows the races on channel 74 on Long Island. So instead of seeing the meet finale, I got a vocabulary show called "Qui si parla informal?"

I quickly switched to TVG, which makes a big deal of its "exclusive" live coverage of Saratoga, only to see that they're showing the "Ford Road to the AQHA Futurity" instead of the 10th at Saratoga. So I turned off the tv and that was how my meet ended.

As I later saw, when TVG showed the Saratoga replay at 6:08 p.m., Kettle Hill won the finale at 7-1, beating Biggerbadderbetter and Kent Desormeaux, which meant that Cornelio Velasquez won the riding title 44-43. Good for him. Not so good for the handful of ticket-holders who were alive in the pick six to Biggerbadderbetter for $148k or to Storm Treasure and Warn for $98k. Instead, 5 of 6 was the best anyone could do, and it was worth $8,227 per miss, thanks to the mandatory-payout provision. Getting 4 of 6, the best I could do, was worth $102.50, and a half-dozen of those did not exactly get me out for the day.

If you played with hard-copy tickets rather than through an account, it's worth double-checking your tickets carefully if you think you had some fours. It's so unusual for those to pay anything that people get confused. Don't forget that you get one conso for each permutation with four winners on it. So if you have four winners and used 2 and 3 horses in the two legs you missed, you get six (2x3) consos. You'd be surprised how many people think they're entitled to only one or two consos in this situation.

There's lots more to say about Monday's racing and the meeting-in-a-nutshell Hopeful, where Majestic Warrior (Mott) ran down Ready's Image (Pletcher), a final grace note to this year's changing of the guard. But right now it's time to call it a day and a meet. Check back tomorrow for some final thoughts on it all.

And don't stop checking back after that. Since so many of you asked so nicely, Saratoga Journal may be ending but Crist Blog will soldier on. We've got a Belmont Fall meeting and a Breeders' Cup coming up, so we might as well continue the conversation.