08/20/2007 5:54PM

No Victory for Sierra


Monday's card here was perfectly bettable but otherwise forgettable. After a similarly drab Sunday card, here's hoping that the Travers weekend cards are going to be corkers instead of more of what has increasingly felt like Belmont North.

A few Monday notes:

---I've agreed with the stewards' decisions to leave up horses in a few borderline cases during the meet and they should have continued taking no action instead of disqualifying Victory for Sierra in Monday's fifth race. This was a case of sending a message to a jockey rather than doing the just thing.

Victory for Sierra had worn down Savasana and was past her in deep stretch when Coa, continuing needlessly to whip right handed, cut in front of the beaten Savasana, forcing her to clip heels. If the stewards want to warn, fine or suspend Coa for his overaggressiveness, fine, but don't send the message with the public's money and create an unfair official result. Victory for Sierra was best, had the race won, and Savasana was not going to miraculously rerally even if Coa had kept a straight path.

---If I were a hunch bettor, I would have made an enormous bet on the winner of Monday's fourth race, given that I've been waiting 26 years for the situation to present itself.

In 1981, I published a book of short stories with a racetrack theme titled "Offtrack." (Available at better yard sales and remainder bins everywhere.) One of the stories, called "The Luck of the Irish," was about a guy who planned a betting coup at Suffolk Downs with a mudlark named Stand Pat, cleverly disguising his superior off-track form and then running him the day of a monsoon. The kicker was that the guy didn't realize that the day of his big coup was St. Patrick's Day in Boston and that every two-dollar hunch bettor at Suffolk was going to bet on a horse named St(and) Pat on St. Pat's day and it killed his price.

I've never seen a horse actually named Stand Pat until today, when a first-timer by that name was entered in the 4th. I didn't play. At least he only paid $7.20.

---Grosvenor Square had a photo coming to him in today's ninth after taking a horrible beat at 29-1 at the hands of Johns Song here July 30. He battled furiously to the wire again and this time got his nose down at the right moment to beat Dancing Tin Man.

It was the first winner of the meeting for trainer Gary Sciacca, and an impressive 10th at the meet for Alan Garcia, a new face to Saratoga who looks like a keeper. Garcia has steadily won the confidence of trainers this year, rode Flashy Bull for Kieran McLaughlin, and is especially patient and adept on the turf.

---When Cornelio Velasquez won Saturday's first race on Al Basha, he extended to a 27-20 lead over Kent Desormeaux in the rider standings. Desormeaux's victory on Karakorum Starlet in today's eighth completed an 11-winner run over three days that has put him in front by a 31-29 tally heading into the final two weeks of the meet.

His other two victories on the Monday card were for trainer Bill Mott, who has now opened an 18-9 lead on Rick Dutrow and Todd Pletcher, who has not won a race here since Aug. 11.

--I know I owe you some promised thoughts on Sunday's excellent and provocative Jockey Club Round Table, but they're going to have to wait until tomorrow. I've been asked to present an award to Allen Jerkens at tonight's New York Turf Writers' banquet and I am determined to get through it without using the "Giant Killer" sobriquet that Jerkens has grown to hate. If anyone has any great Jerkens stories to share before 7:30 p.m., send 'em in.

chisox More than 1 year ago
push, Thanks for the info. I have heard of that rule but my point was that I do not think it is on the books in ny.
push the button More than 1 year ago
chisox, recently in california, there have been incidents where a jock wasn't dq'd but WAS suspended. The judges can suspend a jock even if they leave the number up. At least in California you can. Here's a link with california stewards explanations, maybe NY has something like this somewhere online? http://www.chrb.ca.gov/Minutes_Del_Mar/Minutes_DM_07_08_06.pdf
jeff More than 1 year ago
Wow....sounds like I made a smart move leaving Saratoga after Friday's race card. I have often been confused by stewards decisions on DQ'ing (or not DQ'ing) horses. Sounds like a highway robbery happened the other day. I haven't seen the race replay and many times you hear peoples reaction to a DQ and think it's just sour grapes, but if that was the case you would think there would be at least one person who agreed with the decision....but even bettor's who had no interest in the race agree the winning horse got screwed. Note to Steve......keep up the great work. I only get up to Saratoga 2-3 times during the meet but I read your blog every day !!! Licking my wounds from my last visit to the Spa (too many chalks for me to make any $$) but I am re-loading and hopefully be back next week.
wayne More than 1 year ago
Regarding Brogue, there was never a hole, bad ride by Gomez who appears off form, if he went outside he wins for fun. Second terrible trip in a row for Brogue, the Irish punters are taking a beating.
HZ Hackenbush More than 1 year ago
I had no money on the race but watched the pan and head-on replays numerous times. I saw Coa bother a horse (possibly the 9) early in the stretch. I saw Coa continue to come in and herd the 8 to the rail. (Coa's horse sure wasn't in the two path coming off the turn.) I saw Coa POSSIBLY bump the 8 in midstretch, right up against the rail. And, of course, I saw the incident near the wire. I also saw, in the DRF a day or two earlier, that Coa had just been given a 7-day suspension but was still riding under appeal. I also saw, in a wonderful bit of clairvoyance just a few hours earlier on The Derby List, a post that the stewards were getting increasingly unhappy with certain overly aggressive jockeys, Coa being one. Of course, it's no secret that Coa likes to ride a little rough. Put all that together and you get a DQ. I'm just pointing out that with the herding, and Coa's reputation for such, there's more to the story than the incident approaching the wire. I certainly understand the frustration of those losing money on the race, however, as there is little consistency in stewards' decisions.
Jim in Houston More than 1 year ago
Obviously Mr Jerkens has trained tooo many great horses to even start mentioning names. But if you be so kind Steve, do you remember a horse that he trained in the 70's called Raise a King ? A sprinter that he could only run every few months. That was a heck of a training job by him. stay well..
AJV More than 1 year ago
Morning Steve, I was wondering if you had any comments or insights on the sale of the Racing Form. Any innovations planned? Anything exciting on the horizon? Jim
Richard Dorfman More than 1 year ago
Polytrack: "The surface where claimers become champions and champions become claimers". I can't believe the breeders have yet to connect the dots and wake up to the fact that they're next in line to pay dearly for the switch to artificial racing! Their business will drop off once buyers realize they're offering horses bred to run on a surface soon to be extinct. Why would anyone pay big money at the sales for horses bred to race over dirt when in 3 years time every major track in the country will have made the switch? And why hasn't anyone written about the sea of change that's hit this industry? As a player I now limit my action to turf racing and suggest others follow suit. Big question is: Will the day come when tracks change over to artificial turf? That's the day I retire from the game.
ponyman More than 1 year ago
Steve; Polytrack or dirt----PASS---Just play the weeds.======Love horseracing-ponyman
push the button More than 1 year ago
Steve, how about writing an article about the stewards. Name them by name, talk about their families, lets see their faces, hear how they love their children and wives and what they do in their spare time. I hate that they are teflon don's who hide up in the booths in anonymous fashion with no names, no faces and no accountability. How about at the beginning of the meet, have a long Q and A with the judges and ask them if they are going to nitpick and make a million dq's or are they going to be very lenient and take down only the most obvious stuff. That way, horseplayers can make a decision if they want to play a meet or not. Saratoga just dq'd a horse for not getting a 'fair start' when supposedly, the horse reared on his own...which, if true, is another total botch by the ny judges. Its up to the media to ask the questions as the fans don't have the ability to do so. Also, how about this idea. In the NHL if there's a goal controversy, the main replay offices in Toronto view the replay and make a decision and the officials do whatever the main office says. Why can't racing have a 'corporate office' of stewards who watch races from around the country and make decisions from afar? That way, there's going to be no hidden agendas and the english speaking riders aren't going to have an edge over those with broken english. Speaking to the riders is not necessary, there's plenty of video to analyze. If you have to talk to the jockeys that means the video was inconclusive...if the video is inconclusive you need to leave the result stand. If the video IS conclusive, you don't need to talk to the riders either. Im pro 'leave up'. 90 pct of the time, a bump or brush happens because the horse who's getting bumped is getting outrun. I hate when they 'reward' horses for being too slow. Think about that. Think about how most inquries happen when a horse runs by another horse and lugs in. A dq rewards the slower horse and rewards the player who BET on the slower animal.