04/25/2009 2:19PM

Last Saturday of April


3:19 p.m.: Started out with a pair of "A" singles in the Aqueduct double-carry. One down, one to go. Brook Dance ($5.10) might have been the riskier one, since he was facing six first-timers among his seven opponents, but he led throughout as the only horse who had raced ran second and the live (both 7-2) Dutrow and Trombetta firsters flattened out after making menacing moves.

Coming up next is a currently 1-9 Tagg third-timer, coming off two excellent placings in open Gulfstream maiden races, now dropping back against New York-bred grass maidens. He has a 25-point Beyer edge on anyone else who's tried the grass.

Here's the $824 play, where I got a little fancy with some tickets combining some B's with some C's (those marked with + signs) if both singles win:

3:30 pm: Oops. Separatist, sent off at 2-5, raced near the back of the pack through mild fractions, shot to prominence on the turn as if he were going to win like a 2-5 shot, but flat-out hung and settled for second behind 8-1 third-choice Snipe. The winner, who had faded in three inner-track sprints, had enough pedigree (half to stakes-place statebred Pennington) to be dangerous in his grass debut, but it still seems unlikely that Separatist ran his race. Suspect he'll be odds-on next time too.

Forget the fancy tickets, and any except the single-backup ACAAAA one that's my lone live soldier. It goes 1,10/4,8/1,7/3,5,7 the rest of the way. Feh.

3:48 pm: Commenter jcp kindly hoped I had that $4318-for-$1 late pick-4 at Emerald last night. Alas, I fell a neck short in the third leg, though whining is not permitted when you miss a race where you went four-deep in a field of six.

Still, the payoff illustrated why I like my EmD quartets. The pool was $16,630 and there were only $6 worth of winning tickets sold.

Last night was only the third Emerald card of the season. One of the unusual and appealing aspects of the racing is that the vast majority of the horses there race only at Emerald from April to October and then get turned out for the winter. Other than a few horses coming in from Golden Gate, Prairie Meadows and Turf Paradise, most of the runners are coming off 180+-day layoffs at the start of the meet.

4:02 p.m.: Reduced to rooting for a staggering 4-5 shot who hung on by a nose, now I have to root him through a steward's inquiry as it appears he drifted badly and brushed the runner-up in the final yards...

4:04 pm: This isn't good: Sebastian Morales, who rode the runner-up, just got off the phone with the stewards and began high-fiving the runner-up's connections....

4:05 pm: "There has been a disqualification..." Oh well.

No real complaints. Social Escalade clearly moved out two or three paths and brushed or bumped with Karakorum on Black ($12.20) before the wire. I was actually amazed he held on as well as he did after winning an early duel with my other live horse. (Don't you just love it when you're alive to two horses and they go for each other's throats right out of the gate?)

With a 2-5 and 4-5 down the tubes, it might not take more than one more wacky result to get this thing to carry a third time for a mandatory payout tomorrow on closing day. 

4:15 pm: Following up on commenter Eddie Walker's note about Barclay Tagg and odds-on favorites, it has indeed been a cruel April for those backing his shortest-priced starters. He's sent out seven horses at less than even-money, and six of them have lost:  Before Separatist ran second earlier today at 2-5, there was Groomedforvictory (second at 0.65-1 at Aqueduct 4/22); Intaglio (4th at 4-5 at GP 4/19); Cozy Lion (2nd at 9-10 at Aqu 4/18); Kristi With a K (2nd at 4-5 at Kee 4/9); and Reeley Misbehaving (2nd at 0.55-1 at Aqu 4/9). The lone winning starter at odds-on was Hello Broadway, who prevailed at 2-5 at Keeneland on 4/10.

4:35 pm: An awful scene at the finish of the 8th at Aqueduct. Cloud Nine, a consistent 4-year-old with 17 career starts, was pulled up early in the two-turn race and then collapsed and lay stricken in the middle of the track near the finish line, being comforted by an outrider, as the field turned for home and ran through the stretch. Announcer Tom Durkin cautioned the riders to stay to the inside and everyone else got home safely, with Spurred ($5.80) beating Hammock by 1 1/4 lengths.

5:15 pm:  Mr. Fantasy ($8.60). commendably pulled from the Derby Trail after running a tired third to I Want Revenge in the Gotham, looked good winning a weirdly-run five-horse Withers with a mile in 1:34.91. Supreme Summit, coming in off two fast Santa Anita races, was agitated in the paddock and worse on the track, dragging Eibar Coa to the lead and then bearing out badly into the middle of the track while fighting the rider. Mr. Fantasy was second behind him at the rail, came through turning for home, and easily turned away favored This One's For Phil, who was uncharacteristically restrained early at the back of the pack.

There are live tickets to 6 of the 10 runners in the finale, with 6/6 payouts ranging from $15,212 on favored Riptide to $112,316 on Marra Marra. The four uncovered horses look hopeless but here's hoping -- with apologies if you're alive.

6:00 pm: Riptide won it as the 8-5 fave over 2-1 second choice First of Ten for that $15,212 payday. Sounds like a lot for three favorites and three third choices, but as always the trick is putting them together the right way.

So no triple-carryover tomorrow, but there's still a mandatory payout. Guess I'll take a look.