08/03/2013 10:15AM

Saratoga Day 14: August 3, 2013

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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.

john murray More than 1 year ago
Can anyone verify if Successful Dan flipped enroute from paddock to post parade unseating rider, he was covered in dust/dirt. I did not see it but a friend did briefly and that might explain his unusual running style in the Whitney. Much slower from gate and further off the pace than usual. Buckpasser
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Yes, he did flip.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Fort Larned is starting to become wildly inconsistent and dependent on having the lead. I was extremely disappointed in his effort. He's still dangerous, but that's 2 off-the-board- finishes in 3 races this year(officially 3 off-the-board finishes in 4 races). In the comment section of another article, someone wrote that Fort Larned will never be the consistent type like a Skip Away. That got me thinking about Skippy's consistency. Skippy placed in 29 of his final 31 races. And in 29 of those 31 races he earned a triple digit Beyer. Remarkably, he earned a Beyer of 110 or higher in 22 of those 31 races, a Beyer of 115 or higher 14 times, and a Beyer of 120 on 4 occasions(125, 122, 121, and 120). Skippy had an amazing span of 15 races in which he earned a Beyer of at least 109 every time. And in 14 of those 15 races he Beyered a 114 or higher. And this streak included races in which Skippy had to carry and win under 127 lbs, 128 lbs, 130 lbs, and 131 lbs. Skippy finished his career with over $9.6 million in earnings and 10 grade 1s. His ranking of 32nd in the Bloodhorse top 100 of the 20th century was fully deserved. And I think Skippy's career of sustained brilliance will only look better with time, as elite horses make fewer and fewer starts. Since Skippy, the only horse I can think of that has come close in terms of sustained excellence is the sprinter Kona Gold. That gelding ran triple digit Beyers in 26 of his 30 career races(two of the 4 were 99s), had a streak of 19 races with a Beyer of at least 106, a streak of 16 races of at least 108, and separate streaks of 8 and 6 races of Beyers of at least 112. For his career he earned 10 Beyers of 115+, and had Beyer tops of 123, 119, 119, 118, and 117. His 5 starts in the BC Sprint included a win, a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 4th.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Fort Larned is Game on Dude before the rider switch to Smith. I've been saying all along not to put a second string jockey on a top horse, but misplaced loyalties can run deep. Sure, he can win from the front. But what about reading a race against better riders?
Edward More than 1 year ago
The cards on Wed, Thus., and Friday were really lame and the stakes race as #6 is just plain stupid. Keep those 20k claimers for the front of the card. People like me come late because we don't want to watch or play them just like I don't attend HS baseball games unless my kids are playing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many races. I mean what's the point in buying the Racing Form if you don't have the time or the energy to read it? I thought the adage was, "leave them wanting more" not leave them completely exhausted.
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
These days the adage is "let's suck as much handle as we can get on the weekends." I remember when 11/12 races was something you'd only see at the trotter's track.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
If we didn't like sticking our fingers into toasters, we wouldn't be racing fans & bettors. Of course, being racing fans, we also usually don't notice that the toaster isn't plugged in, which explains, somewhat, our survival rate. *** Steve, you're really better off getting entombed in vehicular traffic than to have the following happen to you. Figuring that common courtesy was the right thing to do, my wife & I invited two gentlemen who were standing stiffly outside of the Saratoga Clubhouse entrance gates to share our cab (theirs was a no-show). Clad in suits & formal to the point of being two plaster of Paris creations, they accepted the offer. "Where are you going?" "The airport, out by Milton." The deep freeze began the minute we pulled away. One of them beginning to act as if THEY had been the ones gracious enough to share the cab with us. The other cadaver caught on quick & by the time we were on Route 50, I figured that if we didn't end up as their bootblacks shining their shoes on their flight home in their Cessna, the rest of the vacation might go all right. They tipped the driver four drachmas & boarded a plane that would need no air-conditioning on their flight home. Be nice to your local trainer tomorrow. These are the people that he or she must put up with 52 weeks a year. *** Cancel the Todd Pletcher benefit dinner.
Herb Scholes More than 1 year ago
Steve, No kudos for the DiSanto bomb ?
John Donaruma More than 1 year ago
Two $750K races run today and they were run at exactly the same time. And people wonder how to fix horse racing!
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Next year, we'll run four $250,000 races at exactly the same time. That will fix your wagon, bub.
Dale Tillotson More than 1 year ago
Race 12 gonna play the Vt. angle going with Amy Tarrants seriously sharp. Kind of the cabot cheese angle to go with the Mr. Big cake celebration.
Christine Race More than 1 year ago
GRRR.....GRRRR.....turn the page - turn the page. I know somewhere in time to come there will be a Saratoga nose in MY FAVOR at 23-1 and it will feel wonderful...but I have three string tickets that were spot on...and costed nil to place and would have been good cash wins...CEPT for that dang 23-1 shot. Ohh well...that means my cappin must be gettin better...and thats a good thing. Do you save all your old wagers to study from - and or tax purposes? These days alot can be printed if wagering on line...but its good to keep records and look back...my dad used to with vigor...but I am not in it for total business..simply love of this wonderful sport and if I can learn and pay for extras not covered in insurance...heck..its a treat to say..That Grey Cross Traffic paid for it all...Anyway - dont mean to hog your board - just wondered if others had the same thoughts or ideas
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Cross Traffic earned that victory very game when confronted ! Makes Flat Out look pretty good also. Fort Larned will be back race was treated more as a prep than other contenders. 9th race winner was only bummer on the day hard to come up with that. Great job as always Steve
Kendall Daniels More than 1 year ago
The 9th race winner's last race was a a victory in at the same distance as today's race. Sometimes it's right there in front of our eyes and we miss it. Cross Traffic did my pick 4 in but that's horse racing. The pedigree was there, but the uncontested lead was not expected. Good for him.
Edward More than 1 year ago
I agree about the 9th except that the field was pretty evenly matched. You had a classic vulnerable(undeserving favorite) so you are supposed to be going deep and filling in with horses like Assateague(and leaving the favorite out)