04/19/2008 11:53AM

Odds and Ends 4/19/08


This has to be on the only day of the year when 40 percent of the graded stakes in the country are being run at Hawthorne, so let's take a look at those.

The inaugural G3 $200k Bill Hartack Memorial Handicap drew a field of five older males where early tactics may be the key. Good and Lucky has gotten loose early to win his last two with flair, including a top-fig Beyer 103 wiring the $96k Gulf Coast at Delta Downs last time out, and is obviously dangerous if left alone early. I'll bet against, though, hoping that Ryan's For Real, stretching out off unsuccessful runs in the General George and Carter, goes after him early. That would set things up perfectly for Fairbanks, who's been facing stronger fields than this one lately, and maybe an early duel can get Mr. Triester at 6-1 up for second.

Three races later, the G3 $200k Sixty Sails Handicap for older fillies looks like a showdown between Tessa Blue and Golden Velvet, who ran second and third to the streaking Spring Waltz last time out in the Rampart. Tessa Blue can control the race up front if she shakes off outclassed Coolwind early.

Mike Smith, fresh from a sweep of Oaklawn's richest races (Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom, Tiago in the Oaklawn Handicap and and Gayego in the Arkansas Derby) rides both Fairbanks and Tessa Blue.

--Keeneland's feature is the perplexing G2 Lexington Satkes, a last chance for graded Derby earnings and sort of a lesser version of last week's Blue Grass with similar issues in play: Atoned, the 3-1 ML favorite off his narrow loss in the Tampa Bay Derby two starts back, will be trying Polytrack for the first time. Big Truck, who necked him at Tampa, ran a wheel-spinning 11th in the Blue Grass in his next start.

The Keeneland undercard includes two stakes at extreme distances: The Giant's Causeway at 5 1/2 furlongs for turf-sprinting fillies, and the new 1 5/8-mile Fort Harrod on Polytrack for potential aspirants to the new Breeders' Cup Marathon. The ML Fort Harrod favorite is Successful Affair, whose mere presence is a landmark for trainer Gary Contessa: New York's leading trainer has made over 4,000 starts during the last five years, but Successful Affair will be his first at Keeneland. His second comes a day later, when Mayan King runs in Sunday's Ben Ali.

There's a $44k one-day carryover at Aqueduct but I think I'll pass and root for a double carry into sunday. The feature is the G2 Bed o'Roses Handicap, where Golden Dawn will try to replicate her impressive Feb. 16 Barabara Fritchie performance, when she trounced Control System by six lengths. If Golden Dawn continues to progress, she could be a candidate for the BC Filly & Mare Sprint which will be run at seven furlongs this year, the distance of the Fritchie and Bed o'Roses.

---A couple of commenters expressed dismay over what happened at Aqueduct Wednesday, when monitors were shut off just as the finale at Keeneland was starting. NYRA president Charlie Hayward explains via email:

No California racing on Wednesday has resulted in us canceling
"bridge" simulcasting on Wednesdays. The latest thoroughbred signal had
been Oaklawn and Oaklawn's last Wednesday was April 9th. This means
that we have not had mutuel clerks open but we did keep the television on
for those customers that had advanced wagered. On the 16th, Aqueducts
last race went off at 4:55. We were supposed to show the last race at
Keeneland which went off at 5:11 and the last at Tampa which went off at
5:28. However, due to a miscommunication regarding no bridge
simulcasting, the televisions were shut down after Aqueduct's replay had
run which explains why the Keeneland race was interrupted. Not a good
explanation but that is what happened. Fortunately, Hollywood Park which
opens shortly, is going back on a Wed-Sun schedule which will remedy the
"bridge issues". I hope that this is helpful.

NYRA also announced three new vice-presidential appointments today: Liz Bracken, formerly director of simulcasting, as Vice President and Director of Simulcast Sales and Content Acquisition; P. J. Campo, formerly racing secretary, as Vice President and Director of Racing; and Tom Thill, formerly Senior Vice President of Operations at Daily Racing Form, as Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

--The excellent Hennegan brothers documentary "First Saturday in May" opened a limited run in 20 cities yesterday, on the heels of an unfortunate trashing in The New York Times from a critic who clearly doesn't like racing (and who seems to think it's ominously noteworthy that "Barbaro was apparently on a diuretic when he was raced at the Preakness.") If you'd like to make up your own mind, here is the list of where it's playing.

--Apparently, the correct answer to the multiple-choice question in the previous post was "A." My NYRA One account balance still reflects my being credited with four consos in Wednesday's Keeneland pick six and no additional refunds.