07/30/2012 12:07PM

Saratoga Day 10: 7/30/12


1:05 pm: Today's pick-6 sequence at Saratoga is as big a mystery as why the feature race is named the Shakespeare Caress Stakes.

I've about given up trying to answer the first riddle, and am going to pass and root for a double-carryover to Wednesday, but  I've solved the latter.

There is no horse named Shakespeare Caress. The honoree is Caress, a very nice grass filly who won four stakes in 1995 including a victory over males in the Poker and a triumph in the Just a Game, (back when that was an ungraded $82k stakes as opposed to the current $400k G1.) Caress never won at Saratoga or ran in a turf sprint, but I suppose there are worse namesakes for a turf sprint at Saratoga.

Anyway, the Shakespeare part comes from the sponsorship of the race: It is being "sponsored" by Shakespeare, the stallion who stands at Lane's End Farm. Shakespeare was a truly brilliant turf horse in 2005 and 2007, winning 7 of 8 career starts including a victory over English Channel in the 2005 Turf Classic and a stirring victory at Saratoga off a 22-month layoff in 2007.

I've got no complaints about today's Pick-6, which starts with a $66k carryover  -- the racing is just too good, with one big field loaded with plausible contenders after another. Just strikes me as a better card to fool around with pick-3's and pick-4's at low increments than to try to get six in a row at a $2 minimum.


1:30 pm: Speaking of fooling around at low increments:

Housekeeping note: A glitch kept some of your comments from yesterday evening from getting posted until just now. You can go back to yesterday's blog now to see them.


2:20 pm: So much for that after dead-on-the-board Carlos Martin firster Fly Bye Pomeroy slipped through the rail behind a three-way duel to win the 3rd at 12-1. Don't you just love it when you use three horses and they all go for the lead and fry one another?

Ton of action in the race for Trombetta second-timer Brother Bob, beaten 12 at Monmouth in his debut at 11-1 with a lowly 37 BSF. Bet hard to 3-1 before drifting late to 7-2. Got the garden trip behind the scramble for the lead but came up empty and settled for third behind the winner and Zaccheus, who came again after dropping out of the pace battle duel. Favored The Roofer tired badly.

The day's first two races were chalky and orderly. Dominant Jeannes ($6.20) dominated the first, taking over in upper stretch and drawing away by 6 under Lezcano, much wider margin than you usualy see in $20k turf claimers. In the second, Sunny Desert got a perfect ride from Dominguez, coming up the inside behind fast fractions to nail Easy Ending, who held well after carving out the pace.


2:40 pm: African Jazz scratched at the gate with 1 MTP for the 4th; he was 6-1 at the time. You know the drill: You get moved to the post-time favorite in the pick-4, refunds for the double and pick-3 starting with this race, consos for the double ending with this race and the 2nd-3rd-4th and 3rd-4th-5th pick-3's. I think.


2:50 pm: World Premier, 1 for 11 3-year-old filly but 1.15-to-1 in a spotty field, sat second early off Summer Flick, took over under a hand ride when the leader faltered despite a slow first quarter of 23.17, and won the 4th in a laugher. World Premier has to be one of the last runners sired by Gulch, a top 3-year-old in the spectacular sophomore class of 1987.


3:40 pm: Another Pletcher 2yo firster at a generous price to start the pick-6. After connecting with 6-1 and 10-1 firsters in the last three days, today it was 6-1 Top Tier Lass, a runaway winner of her debut in 1:03.34 on the grass. 12-1 Maker firster Smittenwithkitten was the distant runner-up, with 2-1 fave Apple Cider, Clement second-timer, third in a field of eight.

Top Tier Lass was the fifth choice in the betting. The question now: When Pletcher 2yo firsters start showing up at 6-5 instead of 6-1, will that mean they're more highly regarded by the connections or that everyone's jumping back on what used to be a very crowded bandwagon? 


4:40 pm: La Pernelle ($8.10) took the 7th in a blanket finish, a race in which a crucial pick-6 decision for many was whether to single 6-5 Federation or go two-deep with the winner in equal strength. The first half of the sequence -- winners at $14.80, $17.00 and $8.10 produced a $589 pick-3.


5:05 pm: Looking carryoverish after 19-1 Rosa Salvaje, 7th choice in a field of 8, easily held off Holidayforkitten to win the inaugural running of the (Shakespeare) Caress Stakes. The winner was the first starter at the meet for trainer Lisa Lewis. Rosa Salvaje, a 4-year-old New York-bred by Chapel Royal, ran the 5.5f on the turf in 1:03.50.

The only longer price than the winner was 46-1 Page Springs, a bizarre entrant who put in a bizarre performance. Her saddle slipped down the backstretch and she began bucking wildly, eventually unseating her rider Orianna Rossi (reportedly uninjured.). The 3-year-old Arizona-bred filly won her first five starts last year, taking stakes at Turf Paradise and Prairie Meadows, then lost a pair of Arizona-bred stakes at 1-to-20 and 3-to-10 and for some reason was sent to Churchill Downs, where she lost her next two starts by 57 3/4 lengths. Off that, she was sent to Saratoga for an open stakes race. Page Springs was bred by the Sawyer Cattle Co. of Maricopa, Arizona and races for Bill Sawyer and Bill Sawyer Jr.


5:30 pm: I've had the dubious pleasure of watching most of today's races from the rental house on the Capital OTB channel and was surprised to see that the Saratoga races are still shown on a two-minute tape delay. This seems like some relic of a long-ago war between NYRA and Cap OTB, one in which the combatants probably can't even remember what led to the dopey practice. It's even dopier now that anyone can watch the races live on the websites of both organizations, and through a bazillion ADW's and OTB's everywhere else in the country. What possible business purpose can it serve to make home tv viewers in the Albany region to wait until the race has been run to see an instant replay of it instead of the live product?


5:45 pm: Looked like a favorite was finally going to get the job done in the pick-6 as 8-5 Readytodefer took over and drew clear on the turn, but he shortened stride and along came Notmyfirsttime ($12.00) to win the statebred allowance race.

Hats off to the crafters of the three live combos in the pick-6: two to #3 Verde Mont that would pay $119k apiece, and one to #4 Big Guy that would pay $239k. Anyone else, and there's $239k in the kitty on Wednesday:

The consos to the uncovered horses are humongous, and many of them probably belong to the people who are alive for 6 of 6.


6:15 pm: Verde Mont came flying late but fell a length short of making two people $119k happier as Count Knickerbocker ($48.80) held on to win the nightcap and give us a $239k carryover when racing resumes Wednesday. Driving down again tomorrow, see you from Long Island Wednesday.