08/09/2014 11:02AM

Saratoga Day 20: 8/9/2014


12:00 pm: Day 20, the halfway point of the meeting, is not the most scintillating of Saturday Saratoga cards, with a single stakes race, three staebred events and four for maidens. On the brighter side, the featured Fourstardave H. could be a good one, and there's an $88,472 pick-6 carryover from yesterday if you like that sort of thing.

The pick-6 sequence starts with Race 6 at 3:58 pm,. Five of the six races are on the grass. The finale is a poorly situated race -- a maiden turf race that includes three first-time starters, whose support at the windows will be invisible to pick-4 and pick-6 players. I'll probably play anyway, but I might grumble about it again before the day is done.

1:20 pm: Contentious opener, with 5 of 6 in field between 5-2 and 9-2. Silver Union ($7.50), taken from a Spa win 7/25 by Maker from Arnold for $35k, won right back off the claim in 1:10.50 as the slight favorite .

2:15 pm: Races 2 and 3 gave Todd Pletcher his 18th and 19th victories of the meet en inevitable route to another training title. In the 2nd, Madd Exchange ($3.40) dropped into maiden-claiming company to score, and in the 3rd the gelding Storm scored his third straight victory in a N1x turfer.

2:45 pm: Requite made it 4-for-4 for favorites today, winning his debut to keep Pletcher from a third straight victory on the day as Two Weeks Off ran second.

Requite, a 2-year-old son of red-hot freshman sire Warrior's Reward, was hammered from his 8-1 ML to 8-5. The George Weaver trainee outbroke the field, shot to the lead in 45.89, and finished the 5.5f in 1:04.44.

3:20 pm: It's pick-6 time. Here's the plan:

The tough opener is a turf route for 2-year-olds with eight first-time starters. Pletcher's Designed for War is the opening 9-5 favorite, and the choice in the doubles and pick-3's, but there's also strong support for Mott, Weaver and Chad Brown firsters. Mott has two firsters, but one (Tariff) opened 24-1 while Dubai Sky is 7-2 and took steady money in the multirace betting.

3:40 pm: NYRA had a nice idea and executed it well with the Jockey Legends promotion to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund. Between the 5th and 6th races, 16 great retired riders were introduced by Tom Durkin,  spanning the years from Manny Ycaza and Ron Turcotte to Angel Cordero Jr. and Ramon Dominguez. Seeing so many Hall of Famers together was a genuinely cool moment.

4:15 pm: Third of the day for Pletcher, and everyone's alive in the carryover, after firster Designed for War led all the way in the 6th. The Glencrest homebred by War Front went 25.11, 50.81, 1:15.60 and 1:38.59, finishing in 1:44.35. McPeek, Mott and Chad Brown firsters ran 2-3-4.

5:00 pm: Not sure exactly how Sioux ($10.00) got an easy lead through a tepid 46.73 half, but maybe he would have won from anywhere. The 3-year-old by Awesome Again, off since November, was half past ready for Peachtree/Hushion and a very easy winner over Groupthink, who is now 1 for 6 with defeats at 3-5, 1-2, 1-2, 8-5 and 8-5.

5:50 pm: Richie's Sweetheart put on a dazzling display of early speed and then hung on in the final yards to win the 9th in her New York debut. Now a winner in 6 of 12 career starts, the Illinois-bred Bring the Heat filly won a turf sprint by 7 3/4 lengths at Arlington in her first turf start last time, and went a half in 44.54 today with a final time of 1:01.98 for the 5.5 furlongs. Richie's Sweetheart was bred by her principal owner, Richard Ravin, and her trainer, Larry Rivelli.

Silver Max opened the 9-5 favorite for the upcoming G2 Fourstardave, with Seek Again 2-1 and Jack Milton 5-2.

6:25 pm: Seek Again ($6.70), a confirmed rail runner, waited and waited at the inside then finally burst through a seam late to nip 11-1 Grand Arch at the wire and win the G2 Fourstardave. Jack Milton nosed out Dorsett for third in a dull effort, while ealr speedsters Sayaad and 3-2 Silver Max finished 5h and 6th in that order.

The winner's time of 1:33.25 for a mile was a new course record. Seek Again, a Juddmonte homebred (Speightstown-Light Jig) trained by Bill Mott, has now won two of his four American starts after an undistinguished career in Great Britain.

AWith no one in the pick-6 sequence paying more than 4-1, everyone's covered in the finale:

7:05 pm: Prayed For, a Ben Walden homebred Dynaformer firster trained by Jimmy Jerkens, held off 2-1 Forensic and 9-5 Trophee (a half-sister to Arc winner Treve) to win the nightcap. Prayed For completed a $980 pick-4 and a $23,156 pick-6 (though the posted will pay said $20,820.)

An 11-race Sunday card starts at 1 p.m. A pair of Grade 2 stakes for 2-year-olds is the main attraction: the Adirondack, which drew a field of 7, and the Saratoga Special, where 11 were entered.