08/09/2013 11:41AM

Saratoga Day 19: August 9, 2013



11:40 am: It's a rainy day 19 at Saratoga, where all five turf races, including the Hall of Fame Stakes and two-thirds of the pick-6, have been washed onto the sloppy main track.

Races 1 and 5 remain at 5 1/2 furlongs; race 7 drops back from 1 1/16 miles to 7 furlongs because they're 2-year-olds; race 8 (the Hall of Fame) goes from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles; and race 10 stays at 1 1/8 miles.

There are 25 early scratches so far including 14 from a pick-6 sequence that begins with a $43k carryover from yesterday. Here's how the lineup looks -- it's an 8x7x6x5x7x6 right now -- and I'll update this chart with any further scratches as they come in:

1:15 pm: Talent N Passion, lone main-track-only in off-the-turfer that scratched down to field of five, a runaway box-to-wire winner at 4-to-5.

Do not be shocked if a few of today's races unfold in similar fashion. Nothing but light drizzle the last couple of hours but the damage was done last night and this morning.

Went for the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich ($10, fries included)at the Shirley's poutine stand near the Carousel. Nice shaved corned-beef-like meat fried up on the griddle, slathered with mustard and stuffed between two pieces of good rye bread. Good stuff.

2:15 pm: Ea, winner of last Saratoga's two-mile dirt race, failed to defend his title but you cahsed if you bet him as he ran second to fellow David Jacobson trainee So Scott. Ea and Regal Warrior raced together for about a mile and a half, then Regal Warrior dropped out of it and So Scott ($3.20) overtook his entrymate. Fractions: 25.76, 51.52, 1:17.34, 1:43.26, 2:10.68 en route to a final time of 3:33.90 -- first mile in 1:43.26, second mile in 1:50.64.

2:30 pm: Churchill Downs just released the 2013-2014 lineup of Kentucky Derby qualifying races. They did some minor tinkering that made sense but failed to address the two large, widespread complaints about the system -- the ridiculous undervaluation of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and the politically-motivated exclusion of the Illinois Derby.

The changes they did make were dropping the Royal Lodge, soon-to-be-discontinued Hollywood Futurity, Sam F. Davis and Derby Trial; halving the value of the Lexington; and adding the newly-positioned (Sept. 7) Iroquois and Jerome.

2:50 pm: Four races, four favorites, as Pletcher firster Forbidden Talent ($5.80), a $50k Talent Search 2-year-old buy by the Ramseys, led five other 2-year-old fillies from flagfall to finish in 1:07.34 for 5.5f. Three fillies taking all the early money in the off-the-turf 5th, first leg of pick-6: Ward firster Boom Boom Vroom(#10) at 2-1, Schosberg second-timer Sky Crew(#11) at 5-2 and Chad Brown firster Miss Lech(#6) at 3-1. The rest are 9-1 and up. here are the multirace willpays into the 5th, showing pretty much the same:


3:00 pm: Nothing ventured, nothing gained:

3:15 pm: Nothing gained. Sky Crew and off-a-step-slow Boom Boom Vroom separated themselves from the field by half a dozen lengths, Sky Crew pulled away in upper stretch, but then 9-1 Gyarmati firster Sweet Reason came flying late to nail Sky Crew. Congrats if you used her.

Firster in upcoming 6th named Free Mugatu appears to be named for Will Ferrell character Jacobim Mugatu in "Zoolander" (right). Statebred colt who sold for $150k as 2-year-old -- 30 times sire Utopia's stud fee -- looked good on paper but has opened chilly at 7-1.


3:45 pm: Opened chilly but finished fast: Free Mugatu, nudged from 7-1 to 5-1 during betting, came up rail late to run down second-timer Empire Dreams. Gyarmati firster Deceived, hammered to 5/2 after trainer surprised at 9-1 in race 5, along for third.

4:30 pm: On dirt, surface that Hall of Fame Stakes is being run over, Battier is 8: 4-2-1 with earnings of $149,700. His four opponents combined on dirt are 7:0-1-0 with combined earnings of $18,006. Yet Battier is the longest price on the board at 3-1.

4:55 pm: Notacatbutallama came through at the inside in upper stretch and outfinished North Slope and Battier to win the off-the-grass Hall of Fame Stakes. The Ramsey entry of Charming Kitten and Get in Line, inexplicably dispatched at even-money, ran fourth and fifth in that order.

Notacatbutallama, a New York-bred Harlan's Holiday colt owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, was now won 6 of 12 starts, five of them stakes.

The race was carded as a Grade 2 on turf but may be downgraded because of the surface switch when the Graded Stakes Committee reviews it.

5:30 pm: Flashy American, beaten just a length by Authenticity in the G3 Shuvee last time out, ran down Street Secret and Lady Cohiba to win the $100k Alana Stakes for fillies who had not won a graded stakes on the dirt this year. The 4-year-old Flashy Bull filly is owned by Preston stables and trained by Ken McPeek. NYRA graphics are down again so I can't give you a time or any prices just yet but the winner was 8-5 on the board before things conked out.

Tote system's okay, though, so here are the willpays into the six-horse off-the-turf finale: [WARNING: These are probably not correct]:


Actually, tote system may not be entirely okay: See those willpays for #12? There is no #12 in the race and never was -- it began as a field of 9 that's now a field of 6 composed of #'s 1,2,3,4, 5 and 7. So I'm not going to say there's a double-carryover even though the willpays say there is. Wait, are those maybe yesterday's willpay prices they're posting in the pick-4 and pick-6 columns? They do look familiar.

5:52 pm: Tote graphics with odds are back up, but NYRA Rewards still displaying hybrid Thursday/Friday pick-4/pick-6 willpays. Post time for 10th pushed back to 6:02 pm.

6:10 pm: Second choice Matt and Jesse ($7.00) won the finale to complete (and these are the correct prices) a $651 pick-4 and a one-winner $197,399 pick-6. Racing resumes tomorrow with an 11-race card at 1 p.m., and I'll be doing Talking Horses at 11:45 in the Carousel. Forecasters are saying the rain is over, a good thing since tomorrow's 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th are scheduled for the turf.

jimf552 More than 1 year ago
I believe the race is downgraded due to the surface change and the committee can vote to restore it. Bold move by Churchill giving Derby points to their September 2 year-old race. The Hopeful will certainly take a hit. Moves like this deserve retaliation and NYRA should remember this and target there other stakes next May and June. Gonna check out Shirley's this weekend, thank you.
Elliott More than 1 year ago
Steve: How do you account for the unusually high payouts on the Late P6 and P4? Just a random walk? [I think the Gyarmati firster was more than 9-1 I the p6 and that Notacatbutallama was a lot bigger than 5-2 in the p4 and p6. -SC]
Jeff More than 1 year ago
I have a question for you Steve....with 9 minutes to post there is $5148 to win on #7 Elder Skatesman.....why? 10 year old N3L...2 for 73 lifetime. .How long has it been since this horse won a race?
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Because the money was just sitting there.
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
Welcome to Saratoga. Despite the rain, still home to the casual fan. Where people bet the longshots. Where people bet horses on name alone.
Van Cushny More than 1 year ago
Per the Twin Spires site, there are only 2 uncovered horses in the P6: 1 & 7
Nancy More than 1 year ago
All are covered except the 1 and the 7, according to will pays posted on TwinSpires.
Alan Stern More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve - my wife and I and another couple spent the last 2 days in Saratoga. The four of us went to the races on Wednesday. My friend and I went to the races on Thursday while the wives spent the day in Saratoga. We had dinner last night at Hattie's based on you recommendation. The food was great. Thanks for writing about Hattie's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Weather affecting the grading of a stake race? doesn't make sense. [It's the surface switch, not the weather. Often makes sense when what would have been a legit G1 on turf becomes barely an allowance race with main-track-onlies. -SC]
Dale Tillotson More than 1 year ago
Race 7 synchronized in the stretch, was Durkin thinking of swimming with the wet track call? The smoked meat is indeed good, of course I have never met a Montreal smoked meat I did not like.
MICHEL More than 1 year ago
What´s up with these jockeys riding the 2yos like QH the races are at 5.5f not 300 yards
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
The desire for instant gratification is getting out of hand.
gowanusbaseball More than 1 year ago
steve in general, do you prefer days when multiple (or all) races are off the turf, dislike them, or is it too case by case to have a general opinion? [I guess I generally dislike them because I feel like it's twice the work, but occasionally it makes an unplayable sequence playable by sheer reduction of numbers. -SC]