08/20/2007 4:54PM

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.