08/16/2012 2:35PM

Saratoga Day 24: 8/16/12



3:35 pm: The plan was to be here about an hour and a half ago, but trips are everything: I was off slowly, checked early (Cross Island Parkway), steadied repeatedly (Whitestone Bridge), in tight quarters (Cross County Parkway), clear thereafter with some late gain.

But since it's an 11-race Thursday, I've got until almost 5 p.m. to cobble together a late pick-4 play, so I'll get tied on and caught up and be back shortly.


3:50 pm: Just watched 0-for-7 Fact, everyone's Best Bet of the day, run second for the fourth time in eight career starts in the 5th and I'd make a snide comment about taking 0-fers at short prices except that he ran second to 0-for-12 Superestrella, who paid a whopping $8.00.

On to the 6th, where 6 of the 8 statebred 2-year-olds are making their debuts in the first leg of a no-carryover pick-6. As expected, the Pletcher, Levine and Dutrow firsters are all taking some money but the early price that jumps out at me is the 5-1 -- as opposed to a 12-1 ML -- on Suffolk Downs-based Ambrose Pascucci firster Acadian Connection.


4:24 pm: After two steeplechases, a maiden-special and three maiden-claimers, it's on to the "quality" portion of the card -- two conditioned claimers, a starter allowance, the West Point and a statebred maiden race.

Stoneless was an easy winner of the 6th for Roddy Valkente and Bruce Levine, who campaigned his first-crop sire, Bustin Stones. Badgett second-timer No Nukes ran second at 19-1 with Dutrow firster Jerek Deter (not a typo) third after breaking behind the field. The Pascucci firster was an even fourth at 5-1.


4:45 pm: Here's that late pick-4 play, with 10 minutes to spare:

The upcoming 8th is a sort of reunion for the lesser lights of the Pletcher stable: Three of the seven entrants were claimed from Pletcher when he dropped them down in their last starts, all for $20k: Dan and Sheila (to Juan Carlos Guerrero), How Do I Win (to Nick Canani) and Big Creek (to Randi Persaud.)


5:10 pm: Dan and Sheila($7.20) put away How Do I Win in upper stretch after slow early fractions, and then held off fast-closing 9-2 Photon as the ex-Pletchers ran 1-4-6 in the 8th.


5:40 pm: Plainview, front-running winner of his last two for $20k, figured to be part of sizzling speed duel with Primo and Brown Indian in the 9th, but Jose Lezcano gunned him to an early five-length lead, gave him a mid-race breather, and had enough left to hold off the cavalry at 5-1.


5:50 pm: It's pouring now, just in time for the featured West Point.


6:15 pm: That rain may have changed the turf, as they just ran the West Point nearly 10 lengths slower (and on the Mellon vs. inner) than the starter-allowance for maiden-claiming graduates (1:43.61 vs. 1:41.92). All the speed collapsed in the West Point and third-choice Lubash loooped the field from last place to score easily, with 17-1 Minnie Punt up for second and 4-5 Compliance officer a struggling third.

Your willpays:

The #8 Bunhead was a late scratch -- 4:26 pm, according to the NYRA website, though they took my pick-4 bets including her at 4:43 pm -- so those payoffs could change depending on who goes off as the post-time favorite. In any case, it's pretty weird that #9 Yes It's Pink, 5-2 ML favorite and second choice in all multiraces, is apparently one of only four uncovered horses in the pick-6.


6:45 pm: The favorite put the kibosh on any carryover as Kibosh ($4.30) was a runaway winner of the finale over 3-1 Yes It's Pink to complete a $9,557 pick-6 and $676 pick-4 that you might have had an extra time if you used Bunhead.

Racing resumes with a 10-race card tomorrow at 1 p.m. Don't sleep in if you want to see the stakes, which have been carded as the 2nd (the $100k Summer Guest) and the 4th (the $150k Yaddo.)