08/08/2014 11:59AM

Saratoga Day 19: 8/8/2014


12:00 pm: The Saratoga meeting hits its halfway point this weekend (already?) in the midst of what has become a slight lull in the meeting: Tomorrow is the only Saturday of the meeting without a Grade 1 anchor (the Diana, Whitney, Alabama, Travers and Woodward are the five other Saturday headliners)and the two-week gap between the Whitney and the Alabama is the longest stretch of the meeting without a Grade 1 race.

Instead, the third weekend has a flurry of Grade 2 events: today's $200k Hall of Fame stakes for grass 3-year-olds, tomorrow's $500k Fourstardave for older-male turf milers, and Sunday's two mid-meeting juvenile stakes, the $200k Saratoga Special and the $200k Aditrondack. It's a nice enough string of nice enough racing, just not quite as compelling as the other weekends at the meet.

The Hall of Fame is slated to go with a field of six following the scratch of main-track-only Matterhorn. Boby's Kitten is 7-5 to wire the field, but I'm also interested in Bashart and Give No Quarter.

Today is also another one of those so-called "15 percent Fridays," in the pick-6, but let's be clear what that actually means. The pick-6 takeout is 15 percent, not because it's Friday but because there's no carryover. The difference is that today's pick-6 pool is guaranteed at $100,000. Two Fridays ago, the actual pool was only $81,933, so NYRA had to make up the $18,067 shortfall. That made it a rare situation where the payout ($85,000 after the 15 percent takeout) exceeded the actual pool ($81,933).

1:45 pm: A $24.40 early double after second choice Bobby Jo ($5.90) took the opener, and the 2-year-old filly Lamontagne ($5.40) beat males in a dramatic 2nd.

Lamontagne, fourth-time Wesley Ward starter, got to the lead but was challenged around the turn by 9-1 Hennig firster Path Dependent. She shook him off and looked like a cinch with 100 yards to go, but then Path Dependent regrouped and made a final run at her, falling short by a bob of the nose. Potthast, Motion firster slammed 8-5 to 1-1 final flashes, was belatedly along for 3rd. Vision Perfect, Donk firster, scratched a few minutes to post while 6-1. In pick 4/5, you were moved to Potthast. 

2:55 pm: The 4th race looked more than a little like the 2nd, and not just because a 2-year-old by Congrats ended up in the winner's circle after a turf sprint for maidens. In the 2nd, Wesley Ward-trained filly Lamontagne edged 9-1 Hennig firster Path Dependent; this time, the experienced Ward horse, 8-5 ToBbe Determined, lost the photo, to 8-1 Maker firster Magnificent Margo.

One race earlier, Confrontation ran his career record to 5 for 7 with a runaway victory against a salty N3x field. The 4-year-old War Pass gelding, trained by Barclay Tagg, beat a field of stakes-placed veterans in 1:22.86 and looks ready for some stakes racing himself.

3:15 pm: Fifth time the charm for Chasing Paradise ($7.40), who went right to the front and was still there by a long neck at the wire, holding off 9-1 Motion firster Donatienne and 8-5 fave Bella Kateri. Chasing Paradise completed a $460.50 early pick-4 and a $2,866 pick-5.

Skepticism is recommended regarding the posted fractional times of 23.93, 50:38, 1:16.03 and 1:38.71, which translates to unlikely progressive quarters of 23.93, 26.45, 25.75 and a spritely 22.68.

3:50 pm: Here's the very spready late pick-4 play. If Bobby's Kitten and Murmure win the 9th and 10th, I probably can't get my money back but perhaps we can beat one or both:

4:50 pm: Mighty Reward won the 8th and was not the target of the long inquiry following it. The attention was on unplaced Rhubarb Lady, who was ruled a non-starter because her head was being held when the gates opened and she was quickly eased. She was properly declared a non-starter, and the scratch knocked Mighty Reward ($17.20) from 8-1 to 7-1. 

5:25 pm: Wallyanna, a former claimer who was three times the price of any of his opponents, rallied from last at the top of the stretch to score a huge upset victory in the G2 Hall of Fame Stakes. Favored Bobby's Kitten was second at even-money with second choice Give No Quarter third at 2-1.

Wallyanna was claimed four starts back by trainer Michael Pino from Dale Romans. He won the J.W. Murphy on the Preakness undercard but then was fourth in a race at Indiana Downs last time out and the son of Langfuhr appeared to be stepping way up in class today.

The upset apparently wiped out all pick-6 tickets, so there's a carryover to the Saturday card. Don't ask me how much: Once again on these freaky fifteen-percent Fridays, the posted pick-6 willpays look a little iffy. If there indeed are one-winner consos worth $29,490, then the carryover should be three times as much, or $88k. That would mean the pool easily cleared the $100k guarantee.

6:00 pm: Prove It All Night ($12.00) wired the field in the finale, where 6-5 Murmure was probably best -- breaking behind the field and then loooping almost all to finish second. The winner completed a $12,514 pick-4. Nobody picked 6, the consos were worth $1,814 apiece and there is indeed an $88,472 carryover to Saturday.

Thomas Mcdonough More than 1 year ago
It is unbelievable that Saratoga can't get its timers correct. What is this-Tampa Bay Downs?
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Carry - over (the grid popped up at 4:28)
Chris Colcord More than 1 year ago
Is this another case where the same person probably has all (3) of the Pick 6 winning tickets?

[They're consos, not winners. And yes, probably the same person has them. -SC]

horsesone More than 1 year ago
will you be posting a pick-4 today? [Yes, posted at 3:50. -SC]
Joey W More than 1 year ago
What fool give's S. Wilson's comment a thumbs down. Look fool if you don't like Mr. Crist or his blog don't look at it. And even if you don't, how could you not be happy for someone to come back from illness. Oh that's right you are a fool. Good luck today Steve.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
I evened that out to zero. All he did was welcome him back, no need for negative votes. As for the article, look at the line up of races on that card. Saratoga is nothing more then a sprint meet. ONE 10f race on dirt and it is for 3 year. The rest are sprints, miles, and 8/5f. You do get those odd dirt races that stretch to 9f though.....bring on Belmont's fall meet.
Tom Callahan More than 1 year ago
Well, 8.5 furlongs isn't exactly a sprint -- and there are plenty of days with multiple two turn races. But if the Saratoga is going to feature two year olds, that means its going to have to feature sprints. And if the older horse population isn't full of marathoners, what are you going to card?
billybudd16 More than 1 year ago
Do you want another 1 3/4 mile race like yesterday?
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
In all seriousness, this isn't a late development, Pagani. Since the popularity of 5 1/2F Turf Sprints grew among horsemen (The secretary wouldn't be carding them if owners weren't entering their horses in them), we may have seen a race or two per card fewer at a long distance, but it's not like Saratoga was running nothing but two-turn races back in the 90's and early 00's.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
What NYRA likely needs to do to get more three-turn (1 3/8 Miles and up) grass (and dirt) races to do is to perhaps go to a three-tiered purse structure. For example, instead of having ALL open maiden special events be worth $83,000), you do it where sprints are say cut to $75,000, two-turn races are worth what they are now, and races over 1 1/4 Miles are worth say $95,000, plus perhaps have trainer bonuses for races of 1 5/16 Miles or longer throughout the season where the top such trainer gets a $50,000 bonus, second best gets $25,000 and so forth. That's how you change it.
Steve Wilson More than 1 year ago
Best of luck today Steve - Happy to have you back!