08/03/2013 11:15AM

Saratoga Day 14: August 3, 2013


11:20 am: Happy 150th anniversary, Saratoga. Hope my usual cash gift is appropriate.

So, where were we? Sorry about the unscheduled absence after a couple of things came up downstate, but I'm back up here with the family for a nice long stretch now.

I know this is like telling you not to stick your finger into the toaster, but don't unless you have to (as I did) ever try leaving Long Island at 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in August to get up here. Took a smidge over five and a half hours, with a particularly brutal stretch run on the Northway from Albany. At least the hounds barely stirred.

If you did have to pick a race worth the drive, though, it's today's Whitney Handicap, hands-down the best field assembled this year, led by Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man, Ron the Greek, Cross Traffic and Successful Dan. The rest of the excessive 12-race card is a mixed bag, but this is a case where the main event is worth the proverbial price of admission, and then some.

Here are my so-called picks (pre-scratch) for "Talking Horses," which begins in the Carousel at 11:45:

1) 7-1-4-6; 2) 5-7-3-1a; 3) 1a-5-2-7; 4) 2-8-10-7; 5) 1-7-6-2; 6) 6-12-4-7; 7) 9-3-1-6; 8) 4-3-1-6; 9) 3-6-5-2; 10) 2-3-4-5; 11) 3-7-1-11; 12) 3-6-8-2

1:10 pm: Lunch? Who needs lunch when there are longtime, loyal Cristblog readers like the guy who walked up to me just before Talking Horses and silently handed me a bag of increasingly difficult-to-find Cheez Waffies?

Thank you, kind and nameless sir. They are as delicious, and unnaturally bright orange, as ever. I don't care what the bag says, I do not believe they are "made with real cheese," but this is not a complaint.

Opener went to Slan Abhaile ($8.10, Celtic for "Get home safely"), who rallied behind pacesetter Googleado's wild (21.21, 43.65) fractions to win in 1:15.94 for 6.5 f.



2:45 pm: Pretty big early pick-4 willpays considering the first three legs were won at $10.60, $3.50 and $9.30:


3:45 pm: Saratoga may be 140 years older, but Gimme Credit struck a blow for the elderly winning the 6th. The 10-year-old Artax gelding won for the 15th time in 73 career starts. He began his career at Saratoga in 2005, and is 4 for 11 on the turf here, including a victory in the 2006 Equalize Stakes.

4:15 pm: Asmussen second-timer Dunkin Bend won baby race in 7th by 5+ lengths but not sure I share Durkin's view that the winner was "dazzling." Time of 1:10.38 for 6f was nothing special on a day when older maidens ran 1:09.63 and it looked like nobody but the winner did much running.

4:50 pm: Tetradrachm ($6.70, ancient Greek coin worth four drachmas), 4-year-old Badge of Silver gelding, looked good winning N3x in first start for Mott in quick 1:39.95, might have stakes turf future.

Two-thirds of the card down, two stakes coming up.

Here's the late pick-4 play:



5:20 pm: 23-1 Assateague made off with the $100k De la Rose, sitting just off a 46.10 half-mile and taking command in upper stretch to win in 1:34.45. Ruthenia got going too late for second and 7-5 favorite Laugh Out Loud was off poorly and checked early before finishing a troubled third.

Fort Larned has opened 2-1 fave for Whitney, followed by Successful Dan at 3-1 and Mucho Macho Man and Cross Traffic both 5-1.


5:55 pm: Good for Cross Traffic, who this morning was the most talented horse in the country without a stakes victory and now is a Grade 1 winner after a front-running cvictory in a star-packed Whitney. Successful Dan was up for second, three-quarters of a length behind the winner and 1 1/2 in front of Mucho Macho Man, with Ron the Greek fourth. Fort Larned, the 7-5 fave and defending champ, was second early but faded badly late.

Cross Traffic, now 3 for 5, ran two tremendous races in defeat in his first two stakes tries, setting strong paces before being nailed on the wire by Flat Out in the Westchester and Sahara Sky in the Met Mile.

Cross Traffic, a 4-year-old by Unbridled's Song, races for GoldMark Farm and is trained by Todd Pletcher. He finished the 9f in 1:47.89 under John Velazquez after posting fractions of 24.17, 47.28, 1:10.24 and 1:34.80.

And now, a statebred turf sprint and a maiden claimer.

6:35 pm: Looks like 3 of the 8 left in the finale are covered in the pick-6:

7:00 pm: Previously 0-for-18 Trainingforsuccess ($10.20), second choice in the win pool but not one of the three covered pick-6 horses, ran down 9-5 St. Sincere to win the finale and prompt a $127,473 carryover to Sunday (for those with any brain cells left after today's dozen.) I shall attempt to activate mine well before Talking Horses begins at 11:45 am tomorrow.