08/01/2014 11:22AM

Saratoga Day 13: 8/1/2014


12:30 pm: A $32k pick-6 carryover, the return of Rachel Alexandra's sister and the $100k Caress Stakes are the main attractions of Day 13.

It's the eve of a high-class Whitney Day card with three Grade 1 races (Vanderbilt, Test, Whitney) and overnight purses higher than we've ever seen in New York:

A $15k hike in the overnight purses for the day has made the usual $83k maiden races worth $98k apiece and a pair of six-digit allowance races, with a N1x at $100k and an N2x at $105k.

The boosts attracted slightly larger than usual fields, which was the aim, but created one weird situation: With overnight stakes staying at $100k, the N2x allowance is worth $5k more than the De La Rose and the Lure Stakes, and those two stakes are only $2k richer than the maiden races on the card.

As for today's little carryover, the pick-6 sequence  starts with two conditioned-claiming races on the dirt and concludes with four turf races -- a conditioned claimer, a starter allowance, the $100k Caress and a maiden claimer. I'm still on the fence but leaning towards playing.

2:10 pm: Samantha Nicole, 3-year-old full sister to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, made her second career start and first since February in the 3rd. Now trained by Kiaran McLaughlin after a second for Steve Asmussen in her February debut at Fair Grounds, Samantha Nicole went right to the front and set fractions of 24.66, 49.50 and 1:13.90. She battled back when challenged by an oncoming cavalry at the furlong pole, finally fading to fourth as the others surged at the wire. She's no Rachel but it was a nice effort off a six-month layoff.

The early double was worth $66.50 today as Royal Posse ($14.20) took the opener and Ave's Halo ($9.20) won the 2nd. In the latter race, midwest shipper Point to the Wild dropped in for a $25k tag, opened 1-to-5, went off 3-to-5 and ran a completely unthreatening 5th. The winner and the favorite were among four claims in the race: Ave's Halo from chad Brown to cannizzo; Point to teh Wild from Cox to Rice; My Bella Beauty from Perillo to Nevin, and Kilnockagain from Contessa to Servis.

2:40 pm: Ever Rider ($6.20), 4th in both the G2 Brooklyn and G2 Suburban in his last two starts, found a four-horse N2x more to his liking and turned back a challenge from 6-5 North Slope to win the 4th in a sharp 1:49.55. Ever Rider, an Argentine import who was winning for the first time in eight U.S. starts, will forever be the answer to one of the great trivia questions of the age: Who was the favorite in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Marathon?

Here's the pick-6 venture:

Unlimited A's and B's permitted, or five A's and one C.

3:20 pm: You You ($9.10), second choice with public but only fourth choice with me, ran down 9-5 Herd Mentality midstretch and drew off as much the best to begin the pick-6. With 1 MTP, a fresh $192k had been bet on top of the $32k carryover. Something went amiss with third choice Patrick Henry, who fell back through the field and finished far behind the rest.

3:45 pm: Mott dropdown Daddy Loves Gold ($4.50) put away 2-1 How and then turned back a rail bidfrom 5-2 My Place to win the five-horse 6th in 1:23.51.

4:20 pm: Shore Runner, whacked from 6-5 to 9-10 final minute, a runaway winner of the 7th in 1:01.82 for 5.5f. Pirate's Pleasure up for second final stride to complete Linda Rice-Michelle Nevin exacta.

Pick-3 comprising first half of Pick-6 paid $37.20. Don't book that trip to Tahiti just yet if you're still alive.

4:55 pm: Aripeka, off since good second to Middleburg Dec. 13, bet like he was ready at 7-5 but was oputfinished in a stretch duel by 5-1 second choice Arch Avenger, claimed last time out by Nevin from Rice.

5:25 pm: Free as a Bird ($5.40) just outfinished 6-1 Jewel of a Cat and 3-1 Madame Giry to win the $100k caress for 3-year-old filly turf sprinters. The stage was set for the wild finish when the Ortiz brothers set a suicide-pact pace with Believe in charlie and Heaven Knows What going the quarter in 21.37 and the half in 43.98.

Free as a Bird, an Elizabeth Valando homebred by Hard Spun, has now won 6 of 19 starts for trainer Ian Wilkes.

They're all covered in the Pick-6, with 6 of the 11 paying $6k or less to a high of $58k for the currently 52-1 Dulha:

5:55 pm: All Cash probably moved too early but still had enough left to hold off 10-1 Retire Fifty Five to win the maiden-claiming finale for Calumet/Lukas, completing a $395 pick-4 and a $1,811 pick-6. (It went up from the $1792 willpay because the winner was the ML favorite but third-place Romans Paradise was the post-time favorite ) Either way, not enough for that trip to Tahiti but probably enough for a jaunt to Ocean City, NJ and and a deluxe room at the Tahiti Inn.

First post tomorrow is 1 pm. The forecast is for morning thunderstorms and a 40 percent chance of rain thereafter.