07/19/2014 12:05PM

Saratoga Day 2: 7/19/2014

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12:05 pm: Day 2 at Saratoga is one of nine cards at the meeting with two or more of the meet's 33 graded stakes races. Today's are the G3 Sanford for 2-year-olds, which goes as the 7th of 11, and the G1 Diana for older grass fillies, which has been carded as the 10th.

Both are intriguing and playable races, but while I found the Sanford manageable (I like Silverhill and Cinco Charlie, with Nonna's Boy the wild card), the Diana is as wide-open a Grade 1 race as you'll see this side of the Breeders' Cup. I don't think Solid Appeal, Somali Lemonade or Caroline Thomas is quite good enough to win, but the other seven do not have x's through their names in my pp's.Five of them are Grade 1 winners (Emollient, Discreet Marq, Alterite, Stephanie's Kitten, Tannery), and Abaco and Strathnaver have been within a length of winning a Grade 1.

It's the kind of race where price may dictate one's play. I'm willing to lean against, and use only defensively, Alterite and Emollient, the two morning-line favorites. They finished third and fourth, a nose apart and beaten less than a length, in the BC Filly & Mare Turf. It may be worth remembering, however, that the first eight finishers in that race were just 3 1/2 lengths apart at the finish. Also, Alterite has not been out since that Nov. 2 race, while Emollient has lost all three of her starts since then.

So what are those eight other days with two or more graded stakes? After today it's July 26 (Jim Dandy, Amsterdam), Aug. 2 (Whitney, Test, Vanderbilt), Aug. 10 (Saratoga Special, Aditondack), Aug. 16 (Alabama, Lake Placid), Aug. 23 (Travers, King's Bishop, Ballerina, Ballston Spa), Aug. 30 (Woodward, Forego, Prioress, Baruch), Aug. 31 (Spinaway, Glens Falls) and Sept. 1 (Hopeful, Saranac). In total, that's 23 of the 33 graded stakes on 9 of the 40 cards.

12:59 pm: #2 Dubai Sky scratched at the gate for the opener, a grass route for 2-year-old maidens. The scratch of the 9-2 second choice knocked Ramsey/Ward/Dettori firster #6 Luck of the Kitten from 8/5 to 1/1...

1:09 pm: ...but the Kitten's Joy firster tired late and was a distant second to Pletcher second-timer Kamarius. The Wertheimer homebred by Candy Ride roared away from the field through the stretch and appears to have a big future on grass.

1:45 pm: Sol the Freud ($13.00) dug in at the inside and bravely repelled a challenge from Handy Stan to win the 2nd, but the disappointment of the race was Groupthink, making his first start since a big-figure victory over stakes-winner Uncle Sigh last December. Groupthink was a bit chilly on the board at 8-5 (he was 3-5, 1-2, 1-2 and 4-5 in his four starts last year) and ran like it, pressing early, tiring late, and just salvaging a distant third.

Also, #3 Sidearm was scratched at the gate. He was the 5-1 third choice at the time.

2:15 pm: Inside-speedy track? Maybe, after both Sol the Freud in the 2nd and just now Waco ($17.80) in the 3rd scored front-running victories from post 1 in races where there was little change of position. Alternately, they may both have simply been best. Waco, a $280k Medaglia d'Oro colt who had tired late going long and short on grass, and long on dirt, was trying going short on dirt for the first time and looked like that's what he should have been doing all along -- 6f in 1:09.40 en route to a final time of 1:15.26 for 6.5f.

2:45 pm: Another inside, front-running winner in a dirt sprint, but Blame Jim ($3.90) was a highly-touted and heavily-bet Pletcher 2-year-old first-timer. The Repole homebred by Sharp Humor was clear in a blink and led through fractions of 22.35, 45.49 and 57.80 with a final time of 1:04.36 for 5.5f.

3:20 pm: A favorite opened a five-length lead from the inside in a dirt sprint....and failed to hit the board. Stop the presses! (Note to younger readers: A "press" is something on which something called "newspapers" were once "printed.")

Majestic Hussar was a terrible favorite in the 5th, seemingly an overreaction by bettors to the alleged speed bias. He had good Spa form a long time ago but had been slow on synthetics recently and in questionable form. Those who thought he would recapture his glory days on a biased track must have been thrilled to see him shoot clear through average fractions, but he was through at the quarter pole and Sam Sparkle ($16.60) and Be Bullish went right by him.

Piquant, who was chasing from second down the backstretch, took a bad step and dumped jockey Rosario Montanez. Piquant bolted to the outside fence, and Frazil was bothered by the incident.

Sam Sparkle was the second winner of the day for trainer David Cannizzo, who also sent out Sol the Freud.

4:00 pm: In the 6th, Clement second-timer Thurgood ($8.00) mowed down a full field of statebred turf maidens in 1:42.41. Slew's Brew at 35-1 just caught 7-2 second choice Boston Strong at the wire for second.

Nonna's Boy is a surprisingly short 3-to-2 with 12 MTP for the G3 Sanford, with Cinco Charlie 7-2 and Silverhill and Bessie's Boy both 5-1.

4:40 pm: This time it was the jockeys who went a little overboard with this speed-track thing, as an intemperate pace cooked the frontrunners in the G3 Sanford and set things up for a photo-finish between 11-1 closers Big Trouble ($25.60) and Mr. Z. Cinco Charlie, who finished a close third at 2-1 over Nonna's Boy at 8-5, may have run the best race of anyone after contesting the hot pace from the get-go.

Cinco Charlie, Chocolate Wildcat and Bessie's Boy mixed it up through a first quarter in 21.65, by far the fastest opening quarter-mile of the day. Then  Nonna's Boy made a sudden bid for the lead just off a half in 45.17 as if the wire were coming up in 50 yards instead of a quarter-mile. The two favorites came off the turn in front but were both tiring. Mr. Z (who ran 1.4 seconds slower than Cinco Charlie when both won June 28 at CD) bulled his way between horses under a questionable ride from Corey Lanerie, looked home free, but then was nailed on the wire by Big Trouble.

The winner, who took a slow maiden race at Belmont in his June 1 debut, finished the 6f in 1:10.64. Big Trouble, a $230k September yearling owned by Team D and trained by Tony Dutrow, is by Tiz Wonderful and the Najran mare Silver Lullaby.

I'm baffled by this late pick-4 and will fool around with the races individually rather than try to whittle down what I can't get below a 5x5x6x4. (6,8,9,10,11/3,4,5,8,10/2,5,7,8,9,10/1,2,6,7).

5:00 pm: Full disclosure: After typing the previous sentence, I decided it would be too annoying to watch that 5x5x6x4 theoretical ticket come in and pay $58 bazillion so I swallowed my pride, abandoned my multirace principles, and put it in as a 50-cent caveman ticket for $300.

I am ashamed but alive. I squeaked by in the first leg when Devilish Love ($15.40) first won the narrowest of head-bob photos over Fade to Black and then somehow survived an inquiry and objection after weaving all over the track down the stretch.

6:10 pm: My stupid pick-4 died with Somali Lemonade ($24.60), who won the G1 Diana after compiling a career record of 0 for 10 in Grade 1 and Grade 2 races. The Michael Matz trainee had been in career form lately, though, perhaps due to the addition of blinkers four starts back.

Today things broke well for the 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid mare. She was a close fourth early behind Discreet Marq, Alterite and Tannery, all of whom were fighting their riders, wanting to go faster. Discreet Marq won the battle and had a clear lead in upper stretch but weakened late. Luis Saez timed things perfectly on Somali Lemonade, catching Discreet Marq and then holding off the fast-closing Stephanie's Kitten in 1:48.51.

And let me say for the first time at Saratoga 2014: Carryover! Only three horses in the finale are alive for 5-of-6 consos, and nobody's alive for 6 of 6.

6:45 pm: The card ended the same way it began -- with a Wertheimer homebred, trained by Pletcher and produced by the Atticus mare Eximious, in the winner's circle. In the 1st it was the Candy Ride 2-year-old Kamarius, and in the nightcap it was the Include 3-year-old All Included($3.90).

The carryover is $66,042.23. Get cracking.

John Lowe 8 months ago
Steve, Agree with T and Ryan. If you don't dq the 10 what does it take? This was a tough card today but I was right twice and am way up for the day. When the cards are like this I forget about the gimmicks and just play race to race. The exactas up here are almost always paying 50% more than they would normally. P.S. Glad you are back
T 8 months ago
I meant in race 8, I thought when you get bumped in late stretch and it causes you to lose by a nose to the horse that bumped you, the order of the two horses should have been reversed with the #1 getting the win. Agree? [I was surprised there was no dq based on the reruns. Tough beat if you needed Fade to Black.-SC]
Ryan Stanzel 8 months ago
Full disclosure that I had the 1 and hated the 10 in R8. But the eventual winner swerved in 5 paths to intimidate the 1...then bumped her twice late and the 1 lost by a nostril. Was about as obvious a DQ as you can get, and they didn't.
LemonDropKid 8 months ago
-"Da Mi Basia Mille" is running later in the day. For those of you who were here last year you will remember it's a line from the Catullus poem 5 (an Ode to Lesbia). Steve gave a small critique of that poem last year that included the phrase "Greedy Gus". I kid you not. It's still funny.
LemonDropKid 8 months ago
I missed the early portion of the card, but if there is a speed bias then I think Nonna's Boy in race #7 looks likely to get to the lead, but 8-5 is not thrilling. I'll use #2 in the 2nd and 3rd slot for a superfecta. 8-2-all-all/8-all-2-all. Good luck, and of course it's nice to have you back Steve.
Christine Race 8 months ago
love your "Note to younger readers: " - needing to explain what a PRESS is....There's no place like home...glad to see you feeling well enough to blog...hope to follow along
Chuck Seddio 8 months ago
maj huussar just no guts,2 was inside whole trip tipped out 1/4 pole,this inside bias is like the inner in dec, makes silverhill in 7th able to turn the tables on charlie
L8_FINAL 8 months ago
In Southern California..the Orange County Register dropped horse racing and handicapper Jerry Antonucci several years ago....but now Los Alamitos Race Course pays for SA/DMR/LA entries and results every day........(for what it's worth)........
Chad mc rory 8 months ago
Speed bias much?
MICHEL 8 months ago
The main track is a joke, just get to the rail go to the front and you are a winner
D'Funnybone 8 months ago
If you suspect such a bias, you should be making barrels full of cash. Why complain?