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Saratoga Day 14: 8/2/2014
By Steven Crist
11:55 am: Day 14 is a long (11-race) and rich ($3.3 million in purses) card of racing featuring the second, third and fourth Grade 1 races of the meeting -- the $350k A.G. Vanderbilt for older sprinters, the $500k Test for 3-year-old fillies, and the $1.5 million Whitney for older males including Palace Malice and Will Take Charge.
The courses are labelled fast and firm to start an afternoon where there's a 40 percent chance of rain. There are three early scratches from the Grade 1's: Bakken, the 5-2 ML favorite from the Vanderbilt, and the longshots Princess Violet and Red Velvet from the Test.
There's no carryover in the pick-6 after Friday's chalkfest, but there are pool guarantees of $150k for the pick-6 and $750k for the late pick-4, which consists of the three Grade 1's and the Lure Stakes. The pick-4 guarantee seems entirely unnecessary since last Saturday's late pick-4, with a lower-profile and less appealing program, attracted $960k.
Here are my cheat sheets for the three Grade 1's. I'm definitely playing the late pick-4 and have some other races to look at before deciding whether to get involved any earlier on the card.
1:45 pm: Early double came back $53 after Dowse's Beach ($6.20) edged 6-5 fave Leroy J. to take the opener, a turf sprint for statebreds, and Snowbell romped in the 2nd for older filly maidens.
Snowbell, a 3-year-old Darley homebred by Tapit, seemed like a different filly today from the one who had two 2nds and two 7ths in four previous maiden starts. She went right to the lead, increased her advantage, and finished stromngly -- a final furlong in 12.06 for a final time of 1:22.52 for seven furlongs. Snowbell is a daughter of Burmilla, a Godolphin runner who won the 2007 G2 Honorbale Miss at Saratoga before failing as the 13-10 favorite in the G1 Ballerina.
2:15 pm: Irish-bred Cordero tried to wire the field of 2-year-old maidens in the 3rd, as his namesake so often did, but he got swallowed late by a rush of closers. At the wire it was Motion firster Strong Coffee ($11.00) over Phipps/McGaughey firster Face the Music with maker second-timer Firespike 3rd.
2:45 pm: after running 3rd in the 2nd and then 2nd in the 3rd, Shug McGaughey won the 4th with Tokyo Time ($7.80) in a $105,000 N2x allowance.
Here are your early pick-4 and pick-5 willpays:
3:15 pm: Eight if the 10 2-year-olds in the 5th race were first-time starters, but the two second-timers ran 1st and 3rd. Pride of Stride ($15.20), Lasix on after a debut third at Delaware, gave Motion a sweep of the day's baby races. The Candy Ride colt runs for Qatar Racing. The two firsters who were bet the hardest ran 2nd (9-5 WinStar/Pletcher/Tiznow Royal Son) and 4th (Columbine/Stall/War Front Waging War.) Pride of Stride completed a $3,625 pick-4 and an $18,315 pick-5.
The pick-6 begins with the upcoming 6th, and I'm passing -- the Vanderbilt and Test are just too tough for me. I'd end up having to single Palace Malice and Big Blue Kitten, and I'd rather fool around in the pick-4 with a chance to beat one or both.
4:15 pm: Filimbi ($6.70), Juddmonte homebred making her U.S. stakes debut, ran down G1 winner Dayatthespa in deep stretch to win the $100k De La Rose in the 7th. The 4-year-old Mizzen Mast-Flute filly is trained by Bill Mott.
One race earlier, Granny Mc's Kitten ($4.30) scored her first victory since winning the P.G. Johnson here last summer as a maiden, taking a N1x allowance for the Ramseys and Chad Brown.
Here's the late pick-4 play:
4:50 pm: Palace ($6.20), a $20k claimer two years ago, ran down favored Happy My Way to become a Grade 1 winner in the Vanderbilt.
This was a two-horse race from start to finish. Happy My Way burst from the gate and opened a clear lead through fractions of 22.13 and 44.49. Cornelio Velasquez kept Palace a closer-than-usual second since no one was pushing the leader, then slowly began to reel him in in midstretch, gathering steam and going past him.Falling Sky was third with Vyjack fourth in a field reduced to seven by the early scratch of Bakken.
5:30 pm: Sweet Reason, who loves one-turn races and Saratoga, added the Test to her Grade 1 collection with an off-the-pace victory. Sweet Reason, who won the G1 Spinaway here last summer and the G1 Acorn at Belmont in June, is a 3-year-old Street Sense filly owned by Treadway Racing and trained by Leah Gyarmani. The longshots Miss Behaviour at 15-1 and Little Alexis at 25-1 were second and third in that order.
The winner's time of 1:22.51 was only a hundredth of a second faster than the 3-year-old filly Snowbell required to win a maiden race earlier on the card.
Palace Malice opened 4-5 with Will Take Charge currently 7-2 for the Whitney.
6:00 pm: The G1 Whitney was supposed to be a Saratoga rubber match between Palace Malice, last year's Jim Dandy winner, and Will Take Charge, who won the Travers. But it was the Jim Dandy 3rd and Travers runner-up, Moreno, who led them and six others on a futile chase as he wired the field to win the Whitney.
Moreno's connections alleged that Will Take charge's rider had used an electrical device when he nosed him out in the Travers, a charge that was completely disproven by track and state investigators.
Moreno ($22.00) is a 4-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, bred and owned by Southern Equine and trained by Eric Guillot. He covered the nine furlongs today in a sharp 1:48.05 under Junior Alvarado. Itsmyluckyday, the surprising third choice in the race at 7-1, held well for second, as 7-2 Will Take Charge was along for third.
Palace Malice, the 3-5 favorite, appeared to be in perfect striking position all the way down the backstretch, but came up empty at the top of the stretch. It was an uncommonly flat performance and his first defeat after four straight victories this year.
Despite four preceding winners who paid $6.70 or less, Moreno's victory set up pricey pick-6's, ranging from $11k to $176k, and even the possibility of a carryover if #9 or #11 wins the finale, the Lure Stakes:
6:30 pm: Big Blue Kitten, dual G1 winner making his first start since the Breeders' Cup, was up at the finish to edge 10-1 Bio Pro and win the Lure to wrap up Whitney Day. The 6-year-old by Kitten's Joy, a Ramsey homebred trained by Chad Brown, ran the 8.5f on the inner in 1:41.09.
Racing resumes at 1 p.m. Sunday with a 10-race card featuring the Waya Stakes at a mile and a half for older grass fillies.
Th also rans just let Moreno run away with it. He had more than enough left to easily beat this field. It was clear that Palace Malice just didn't have it today. Nice to see new faces in the winner's circle today.
Cue the indignation of a horde of NY based horseplayers complaining about the "paved highway" and how speed biased the track was. Oh wait it's Saratoga, not Santa Anita. Guess Moreno was the best horse.
So much for the "rivalry". Formal Gold and Skip Away are laughing somewhere.
Great betting card at the Spa today. No surprise that IMLD was 3rd choice, we are looking at the same form, right? I admit, was very interested at the MLands, SebastianoK an awesome & imposing trotting machine, what a beautiful gait..
Don't think I'm going out on any sort of crazy, unsustainable limb by screaming, "The Chalkfest continues." And congratulations to all those worthy winners!
Meanwhile, I'm watching Hambeltonian Day at The Meadowlands, the biggest day in Harness Racing and I'm not signed into any accounts to do so. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board needs to make it so NYRA can have its visual signal available online without having to sign in (the audio signal is actually) as it would help in bring in more casual people, especially on big days like today. As noted yesterday, arrangements need to be made so that if the Whitney and the Hambletonian are on the same day, there are special cross-breed wagers as noted below: A special double on the Hambletonian and Whitney A special 50-cent Pick-4 on those two races plus the Test and Hambletonian Oaks A special 20-cent Pick-6 on those four races plus the Vanderbilt and Cashman Memorial (the latter this year features Sebastian K, the faster trotter in Harness Racing history). This would capture the interest of the more casual fan and I think would be very popular. Until the Haskell was moved up a few years ago, there used to be a Hambletonian-Haskell double that was very popular and handled very well and I think a Hambletonian-Whitney double (plus pick-fours and pick-sixes noted) would do the same if not more. This is one case where thoroughbred racing needs to work with those on the harness side to have such special cross-breed wagers.
how are you feeling steve. are you handicapping any differently now - any revelations? Feeling pretty good if I don't try to do too much, thanks for asking. As for handicapping, still doing it the same -- as well and badly as ever. -SC]
In Graham We Trust... When will the bettors catch on
Steve, am I crazy for thinking today's a decent opportunity to play the oft-ignored Grand Slam? It ends with the Whitney, and seems to provide an opportunity to get Palace Malice at a lot higher than even money odds, especially if you don't love the favorites in the preceding races (and I don't). [That makes sense IF you can get the faves out. I think it's going to be hard to keep Palace (Vanderbilt) and Sweet Reason (Test) off the board, but if you're right you'll get paid. -SC]
I thought Strong Coffee's debut was solid. Time will tell what he beat, ...Derby prospect?? (with Warrior's Reward on top)