08/01/2014 12:22PM

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.

ML NJ More than 1 year ago
Weird, not being able to say "Hello," on my (nearly) traditional return on Friday of Whitney Weekend. But then there were lots of weird changes. I couldn't say "Hello," to Little Andy either because he now does "Talking Horses" in an isolated makeshift studio in the Paddock. "Taste of Saratoga" is gone; AND SO ARE THE TOTE BOARDS!! There's just the one central display board with 20% of it always given to advertisements. W,P & S total on individual horses are never displayed. There were good roast beef sandwiches last year and now they are gone. Only Hatties remains. The sandwich is up to $10 now. (Mine today was HUGE! I wish they'd sell a half sandwich fo $6!) Ads are everywhere. Please tell them to stop.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Steve: There were a pair of $102,000 allowance races on Belmont Stakes day, and I believe previously there was an off-the-turfer at Saratoga a couple of years ago that was worth $100,000+ as I recall. These will be the first $105,000 allowance races that are SCHEDULED for such in New York racing history. Personally, it would be in New York racing's (and NYRA's) best interests to get the laws changed to allow NYRA to take out-of-state Harness tracks so tomorrow (Saturday) for instance, NYRA can take The Hambletonian card at The Meadowlands. NYRA and New York state likely lose a lot of in-state handle (except at Yonkers Raceway) from people torn about being at Saratoga for the Whitney and being at The Meadowlands for the Hambletonian, which I believe are on dueling broadcasts (NBC for the Whitney, CBS Sports Network for the Hambletonian). If it were allowed, it would allow NYRA and The Meadowlands for instance to do some special cross-breed wagers like: A special double on the Hambletonian and Whitney A special Pick-4 on those two races plus the Test and Hambletonian Oaks A special Pick-6 on those four races plus the Vanderbilt and Cashman Memorial (the latter features Sebastian K, the faster trotter in Harness Racing history). That is why this needs to be changed.
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
You failed to win me over with this argument. It makes it sound like NY will lose a lot of money tomorrow when, in reality, they won't really lose much, if any. Harness racing isn't a big draw outside of two major events each year - the Hambletonian and the Little Brown Jug. The Breeders Crown is alright, but ... it should really be like the current Breeders Cup - split into two back-to-back days. And how many people really are talking about the Hambletonian outside of harness loyalists? Not a lot -- which could be why harness racing's biggest race is on digital cable's CBS Sports Network as opposed to the main CBS network. Finally - is why NYRA doesn't handle out-of-state harness because of state regulations... or because NYRA doesn't want to and only takes in-state because they have to?
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Rick: Until the Haskell got moved up a week a few years ago, There used to be a double on the Hambletonian and Haskell that was very popular and handled very well. Having one on the Whitney and Hambletonian (and the pick-four and pick-six I would have done) would have likely brought in a lot of interest from people who are looking at both cards and perhaps even an enticement to look at the other in each case. The Hambletonian is the biggest day of the year for Harness Racing and I do know quite a few who go to The Big M over Saratoga for that day.
Stephen Mercier More than 1 year ago
Steve good luck to you sir. I am still alive for 2 bucks and I need 6-3-6 to bring it all home. This is probably not the right place for it but anyway I LOVE the Formulator and would not go back to paper. The ticketmaker is a brilliant bonus. One feature or function I have never been able to master is the "plus distances" . If I want to highlight any races within a half furlong either side of todays distance I can never seem to get it to work. I hope someday the programmers can simplify this function for us dummies.
Joey W More than 1 year ago
Steve, I was with you in not giving the 1 enough credit in leg one of the pick 6. I am still alive but very thin to the 6,11 w 3,10 and 7 in final leg. Hope we both hit it. I like your chances a bit more though. Good luck
T More than 1 year ago
HI Steve, I will be rooting for you Pick 6 today. A few questions.... When you handicap, do you always print out the Formulator PPs? I always merge the workouts. What is the "Max Workouts (Print)" setting you use in the Formulator settings? Thanks in advance.

[Yes, I print out the Formulator pp's, and sometimes print at least some races a second time after scratches if there are a lot of defections (e.g., off-the-turfers.) after scratches. I don't merge workouts. -SC]

T More than 1 year ago
So I assume you do not put much weight in workouts, correct? Do you check out the Saratoga Clocker Reports? [Workouts are not my specialty and I don't pay much attention. I do read the Welsch/Vesce Clocker Report. I'm always more interested in knocks than pushes. -SC]
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
Sorry, I've never heard that expression. What do you mean by "...more interesting in knocks than pushes."?

More *interested*, not "interesting." I just mean I am more interested in negative (knocks) info from clockers than positive info (pushes). -SC]

Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
Okay, thanks, Steve. And the "copy" error was my typing. I regret the error.
Chris Colcord More than 1 year ago
Hoping we might catch you reporting live from Ol' Smoke's place this weekend. . .maybe by the Travers? [Here's hoping. -SC]
Gregory M More than 1 year ago
Happy you have returned, Sir, and hopefully the lobster rolls have your name on them.
Lee Jey More than 1 year ago

[Care to elaborate? -SC]

topofthelane More than 1 year ago
He's had a hard days night.
William Eisele More than 1 year ago
but now he's on a magical mystery tour
Elliott Zenkel More than 1 year ago
Welcome back, Steve. We were really concerned about you. Any health advice for us older guys? Looks like a tough P6!

[I am SO not the person to ask for health advice, but I'll go with "Don't worry, be happy." -SC]

Joey W More than 1 year ago
Good luck today Steve. I like the pick 3 sequence in races 6-8. So I added a few more races to play small pick 6. Wasteful I know. Main horses in pick 6 races are 5th 7, 6th 2,4, 7th 8,10,12, 8th 6,11, 9th 3,10 and single on all my tickets in the last with the 7 Dividend. Glad your back again and hope you cash some tickets. Or 1 big ticket. [I hope you're smart today because we're on a LOT of the same horses. -SC]