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Saratoga Day 16: August 5, 2013
12:45 pm: Sunny and 74, fast and firm, for Day 16, which features a pair of ungraded $100k stakes for older fillies, the Shine Again at six furlongs on the dirt and the Waya at 12 furlongs on the inner turf.
After today, there are 24 racing days to go, a number that resonates with us AARP-eligible Spa-goers because this used to be a 24-day meeting back in the day. So if you're like me and you've had an as-yet unrewarded meeting parimutuelly, you can turn the page and start fresh Wednesday for the "real" 24-day Saratoga.
1:10 pm: Opener went to 9-2 Pure Attitude, freshened by Jacobson after being claimed from Orseno in his last, over 2-1 fave Winning Touch in 1:09.69 -- quick for $20k claimers.
I know I'm a little obsessive about the eligibility minutia for these conditioned-claiming races, but it's worth noting that there's a huge difference between a straightforward N3L (nonwinners of three races lifetime) and one like this that adds an additional eligibility avenue of "OR which have not won a race on the dirt since February 5." That opens the field to multiple winners like Pure Attitude, who was 8 for 50 before this race. The only pure N3L horses in this field were the three longest shots and they all ran off the board.
Might prove worth remembering if they come back in an N3L that doesn't have the added eligibility doorway -- they'll be taking a sharp and hidden drop in class.
2:00 pm: Maiden-claimer in 2nd went to Zito dropper/turf-to-dirt Boogie Too, who prevailed in a long drive against Chad Brown firster Countercyclical, bet down to 9-5. Countercyclical fought for the lead every step of the way from the inside and continued on bravely, admirable effort from a firster going 6.5.
2:20 pm: It doesn't matter whether they're 2-5 or 2-1 and whether they cost $70k or $700k: Pletcher 2-year-old firsters rule here. King Cyrus, a $70k Bellamy Road yearling and a tepid 2-1 on the board behind an 8-5 Zito firster, destroyed five other maiden with a 10+-length [update: 11-length] victory in the 3rd, going 1:24.68 in the first 7f baby race of the meet. The best that any of several other well-bet firsters could manage was a very distant fourth for Souperfast, a half-brother (by Broken Vow) to Uncle Mo.
"We felt like he had been training well," Pletcher said. " We originally put him in a six-furlong race on Saturday; we thought seven furlongs might be better for him. He's an obvious two-turn kind of horse - bred that way, looks that way, trains that way. We were happy with the way he came into the race but didn't really expect him to blow them away like that."
It's a little worrisome that the 2-year-old races are apparently tough to fill this year, especially after a season in which the Triple Crown races were all won by horses who raced here as juveniles last year.
3:00 pm: I'm on houndwatch (that's Dondo on the left and Junior on the right) duty part of the afternoon so watching some races from the house on the Capital OTB channel and I can confirm firsthand that an ancient and senseless war is over: You can finally see the Saratoga races live on cable tv here without the idiotic two-minute blackout/delay of the past.
The situation always reminded me of a soldier emerging from a cave years after a war was over and thinking hostilities were still in force -- for the last few years, nobody could even remember why there was a delay, and it was especially insane in an era where NYRA and every other ADW under the sun was showing the races live -- everyone except Cap OTB. Best news is that you will never again have to read my annual column about what a crazy, destructive situation it is/was.
3:25 pm: Great item from the NYRA press notes: "Trainer David Jacobson has a reputation for good luck at the claiming box, and he struck again Monday when he plucked winner Road Agent out of the third race for $25,000. Sixteen other trainers put in claims for Road Agent, a subject of fevered interest this year, and Jacobson won the "shake" for the 3-year-old colt, which he had lost at the claiming box in his prior start July 20 at Saratoga. In that race, 12 trainers tried to bring home Road Agent, and Jamie Ness won the shake for Midwest Thoroughbreds."
3:50 pm: It's late pick-4 time:
4:30 pm: Several jockeys including John Velazquez (right)surprised Dunkin Donuts customers by handing them their coffee and pastries at the drive-thru on Broadway this morning.
I know this is not a particularly good story or picture but it provides me with an excuse to tout you on something you will thank me for: The seasonal "Key Lime Coconut" donut available this month at DD, filled with keylimey goop and topped with vanilla frosting and shaved coconut, is outstanding.
Jonrah winning the 7th at $14.40 was pretty tasty too.
5:00 pm: More Todd: Holiday Soiree, a 4-year-old filly who had made 17 career starts and was 0-for-9 in stakes races, made her first start for Glencrest Farm and Pletcher a huge one, blowing away a small field in the $100k Shine Again Stakes to win by 3 3/4 lengths. The daughter of Harlan's Holiday went off as the 2-1 second choice and ran the 6f in 1:08.80. In case you've forgotten, Shine Again was a Bohemia stables/Allen Jerkens filly who won 14 of 34 starts including the 2001 and 2002 runnings of the Ballerina here.
5:35 pm:Qushchi, a British-bred daughter of an Australian sire and an Irish mare, came alive in the stretch to score a strong victory in the $100k Waya, with Anjaz second and Mystical Star third. Now trained by Graham Motion, Qushchi was winning for the first time in five American starts after going 3 for 21 overseas.
Only 3 of the 8 in the finale are covered in the Pick-6, or else it's a $60k carryover to Wednesday. Either way, we'll resume the conversation then.
Steve, Would it be too much to ask that you put the total amount of your chart bet? I know it can be calculated but would save us the work. Also, perhaps your ROI on pick 4s and 6s for the season or a chart of each days cost and payoff when you hit? Thanks much!!! [I usually state the cost of a pick-6 play but I'm not going to start posting all my investment and return data. I'd like to think that people want to see the plays to see my strategy and thinking, not to monitor my finances. - SC]
It's a dead heat between the key lime coconut and lemonade donuts for me!
Congrats on the P4. Your mention of the sometimes labyrinthine race conditions prompts me to ask all here a question that's been on my mind for some time. What ever happened to simply classing horses by claiming price? Break your maiden and then seek your own level. I suppose I'm dating myself by longing for a $35k claimer with 8 or 10 entrants whose PP's would show moves up and down the price ladder, a claim or two, and a body of work a lot more fun to decipher than the fields of 1 for lifers that we see all too often, and all but one of whom will be back in the same condition next time.
Steve, My father would like to visit the pres box in Saratoga. He worked there many years ago and would like to return when he is in the area in a few weeks. The NYRA website doesn't seem to list a public relations or press contact. Any chance you can point me in the right direction. [The person to contact is Eric Wing, Director of Communications. I think his email is email@example.com.]
So odd that Paco Lopez made it to upstate NY just for a non-primo end-of-the-day race. Had to be why the horse was bet the way it was...didn't show much in the program. Congrats on the P4, Steve.
How many times did you have the all "A: ticket? Inquiring minds want to know. [More than once, as should always be the case when you take the "A" train all the way home. -SC]
Steve, Good hit with the pick 4 payoff seemed generous. What' s the deal with past-posting or whatever goes on with races. 7 Lady's Lunar Luck hoover at 9/2 and then 4-1 but with a good break wins at 3-1 Seems to only happen with horses which win or at least break very well ?? [In my opinion, 99.9+ % of the time it has nothing to do with past-posting or anything nefarious. It is simulcast money coming in at the last minute and taking 30-to-60 seconds to cycle into the pool and thus change the odds. The vast majority of money is bet offtrack, and a lot of that offtrack money goes in during the final minute. -SC]
Steve What do you make of the large number of vacant storefronts and/or For Sale signs lining the Saratoga main drag? I know that a six-week season could not support a hot-dog stand, but this seems new to me.
Steve, The hounds look fit and ready! At least you have some good company to watch the races with. Good luck Great picture of Johnny