08/03/2014 11:00AM

Saratoga Day 15: 8/3/2014


12:00 pm: It's a breath-catcher of a Sunday card after yesterday's Whitney Day extravagaganza. Yesterday: 11 races, five stakes, three Grade 1's, no claiming races, $3.13 million in purses. Today: 10 races, no graded stakes, five claiming races, $687k in purses.

Preliminary Beyer Speed Figures from yesterday: Whitney-108, Vanderbilt-106, Test-92.

Those were the third, fourth and fifth of the 15 Grade 1's at the meeting, and it's two weeks until the next ones, the Alabama Aug. 16 and the Sword Dancer Aug. 17. Here are the graded stakes results so far and the rest of the schedule:

2:00 pm: Rough day so far if you liked short-priced horses who had the lead a few strides from the finish -- three such creatures were nailed at the wire in the day's first three races.

In the opener, for maiden 2-year-old fillies, it was 3-5 Pletcher firster Feathered getting caught by Catalano firster Winter Dawn ($12.60), who surged late after dueling and being passed. You have no complaint if you took the chalk because Winter Dawn was much the best.

In the 2nd, an N2x turf sprint, Banzai Charge ($12.60) came flying late to get 5-2 Summer Breeze, 3-1 Joe Can Gallop and 7-5 Partly Mocha. Then in the 3rd,  a dirt sprint for older maidens, 4-5 Flat Jack shook off early challenges and looked home free until Zito second-timer Quiet Ruler ($12.60) came and caught him.

2:45 pm: More pain for chalkplayers in the 4th. Kharafa, prepping for the West Point Aug. 24, was 1-to-2 in a field reduced to six by early scratches including Lubash. Kharafa appeared to be in good position third early behind Front and Notacatbutallama, but when called upon in upper stretch the favorite flattened out. Notacatbutallama ($9.20) spurted clear and Barrel of Love was along for second as Kharafa was 3rd.

There hasn't been a winner longer than 5-1, but with four favorites (including three at odds-on) losing, the early pick-4 and pick-5 are rather swollen:

4:10 pm: Shining Copper, stakes-placed 4-year-old making first start for a tag for Sumaya US/Pletcher, was 3-1 ML, 2-1 with 2 MTP, and won laughing on the lead at 6-5. Chalky start to the no-carryover pick-6, but I have to think the results are about to get pricier. The maiden claimers in the 7th and 10th could be chaotic, and the 12-horse Waya is a scramble. Nevertheless:

4:30 pm: Condo Commando ($26.20), a well-kept secret at 12-1 in a field of nine $75k 2-year-old filly maiden claimers, obliterated the opposition by 12 lengths in a strong debut.

The Tiz Wonderful filly, a $72k yearling purchase by Dubb and partners and trained by Rudy Rodriguez, ran the 5.5 furlongs in 1:03.82.

My experience with these $75k 2-year-old maiden claimers at Saratoga has been to use short-priced second-timers (like today's two favorites) only defensively and assume that at least one of the firsters is probably okay. By "okay" I mean a firster who belongs in a maiden-special but who someone's trying to cash a bet with at Saratoga.

5:00 pm: Back-to-back winners for Dubb/Rodriguez as 4-1 second-choice Cheyenne Nation necked out 4-5 Cage Fighter, but the runner-up was probably best. Cozy Kitten, 26-1 shot who bid for lead in upper stretch before settling for a close third, came out twice and bothered Cage Fighter, who took up and stumbled before getting back on track.

5:40 pm: Could someone please remind me every year not to leave out Jonathan Sheppard in mile-and-a-half turf races? Cat's Claw at 13-1 drew in off the also-eligibles and then came home with a burst to collar Viva Rafaela and win the $100k Waya in her stakes debut. English Class was third with Gulsary fourth in a field of 12.

Cat's Claw, a 4-year-old by Dynaformer, was bred and is owned by Helen Alexander and partners. She covered the 12 furlongs in 2:27.08.

The upset left only three of the 11 in the finale covered in the pick-6. Anyone except the #1, #4 or #7, and there's a $56k carryover to tomorrow:

6:05 pm: Costenia gave Sumaya US Stable and Pletcher their second dropdown winner of the day with a romp in the nightcap. One of only three covered in the pick-6, Costenia completed a sequence worth $28,452 to two ticketholderts, and a late pick-4 that paid $9,624. Racing resumes tomorrow at 1 pm. I'll resume here Friday .