08/16/2014 12:03PM

Saratoga Day 26: 8/16/14

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12:05 pm: Happy Alabama/Arlington Million Day. Saratoga has two graded stakes on the Saturday program: The G2 Lake Placid, which has scratched down to a field of four 3-year-old fillies, and the G1 Alabama, where CCA Oaks winner Stopchargingmaria looms a heavy favorite in a tepid field.

Meanwhile, Arlington presents its only three Grade 1 races of the year today, all on a turf course listed as firm: the $500k Secretariat for 3-year-olds (at 5:15 Eastern time), the $750k Beverly D for older fillies (5:54 ET), and the $1 million Arlington Million for older males (6:36 ET). The Beverly D is scheduled to go off one minute before the Alabama (5:55 pm).

Don't get too caught up in jockey changes on a bunch of runners on the Saratoga card: Six Saratoga-based jockeys (Albarado, Castellano, Leparoux, Prado, Rosario, Saez) are instead riding at Arlington today.

1:10 pm: Indian Nobility ($23.00) only runner above 7-2 in five-horse field, ran down 9-5 fave Ghareeb to win the opener.  

Do you find this image soothing?

So do I. I changed my desktop wallpaper to this one on Opening Day and it occasionally makes me think I'm staring out the pressbox window. You can download it at http://www.nyra.com/saratoga/wallpapers/ .

2:15 pm: Crown Queen, half-sister to Royal Delta for same Mott/Besilu connections, made a winning stakes but with a late surge to win the G2 Lake Placid. Rank outsider Duff One held second after setting slow fractions, with Excellence third and Minorette last throughout.

The winning 3-year-old Smart-Strike-Delta Princess filly fell back from 2nd to third midstretch as Excellence moved inside Duff One and looked ready to roll. Excellence progressed no farther, though, in her second straight disappolinting U.S. start after running with top ones in Euirope.

Crown Queen, third in both her starts at 2, has now won three straight this year.

3:00 pm: Can't Happen Here, 4-1 Klaravich/Chad Brown firster by Desert Party, overcame a slow start to win the 4th, a turf route for 2-year-old maidens. Race followed by a long inquiry/objection involving second finisher, 28-1 Vision perfect and third-place 5-1 Syntax. Stewards reversed their finishes, placing Syntax second.

Here are the early willpays:

3:40 pm: Grand Strand, 9-1 at the time, scratched at the gate after rearing up. Race went to 6-1 Catholic Cowboy, who slipped through on the rail at the top of the stretch and scored by three over Pletcher barnmates 7-5 Bay of Biscay and slow-starting 8-5 Matterhorn.

4:15 pm: In the 6th, a 6.5f maiden 2-year-old race, three of the 10 had started once and seven were first-time starters. The three with experience ran 1-2-3. 5-2 Bold Conquest and 7-2 Money Changer. second and third to Blame Jim here July 19, ran 1-2 this time. Zennor, Godolphin/McLaughlin firster hammered to 3-2, bid as far as 3rd on the turn but then flattened out and ran 5th.

4:45 pm: Submitted for your consideration, the late pick-4 play:

5:25 pm: I guess it pays to use every single first-time-Michelle Nevin runner, and even more so after today's 8th race:

13-1 Dream Saturday, beaten in 4 of 5 Florida efforts with 4-for-44 trainer Agustin Bezara, switched trainers today and ran down 5-1 Waco to win the 8th. Waco's trainer, H. James Bond, claimed foul on Waco's behalf against the winner, but the stewards let it stand.

5:55 pm: Bond made it into the winner's cricle in the 9th with Orino ($7.10).

Stopchargingmaria opened 4-5 for the Alabama; I don't know why she was 2-1 instead of 1-1 on the morning line. Unbridled Forever is next at 6-1 with Size 7-1 and Got Lucky 9-1.

6:30 pm: Stopchargingmaria became the first two-time stakes-winner at the meeting with a stubborn victory over longshots Joint Return and Miss Besilu in the G1 Alabama. Stopchargingmaria, arguably an overlay at even money, ran the mile and a quarter in 2:05.14 in a slow-paced race where the first six furlongs went in 1:15.18.

Todd Pletcher trains the 3-year-old Tale of the Cat filly for Mike Repole. The Alabama was her fifth graded stakes victory and her second Grade  1, following a five-length score in the CCA Oaks here July 20.

Six of the 10 inthe nightcap are covered in the pick-6 at payoffs ranging from $14k to $86k:

7:05 pm: Smooth Daddy ($21.20) led from start to finish, then survived an inquiry for coming in on 11-1Woodfield Springs to win the finale and complete a $3,765 pick-4 and a $43,041 pick-6.

Another 11-race card Sunday including the G1 Sword Dancer and the Alydar Stakes, where Alpha makes his first start since February.

TomN 6 months ago
Steve, full disclosure I needed Rosey in the finale, and am a little dismayed at the non call....it was obvious to me the #3 was full of run and Ortiz gave a defensive ride from the 1/8th pole...the stewards are not very consistant
Boyd Cord 6 months ago
I had her too, 3 over 7,9. hated it but it was the right call. $200 exacta
billybudd16 6 months ago
Rosie ran herself into the rail. Not happy with her blaming everyone else .
Jake Footballe 6 months ago
TomN,- Full disclosure here too. I had a big exacta 3-7 and win money on Rosie. I did not box it. After seeing the replay, Rosie hit the rail on her own with no interference from J. Ortiz at all. When it happened, I waited to see the head on and was praying Ortiz came over on her but he did not at all. She bounced off the rail on her own and then got nervous and checked. That was all Rosie and trust me, it cost me thousands and I was stuck the house for the day. It was absolutely the correct no call
Brendan 6 months ago
Please tell me what is going on with Rosie Napravik. She is on a bad roll. her behavior after her ride on Untapable, her ride on Tiz Yankee R11SARAUG102014, and now claiming foul in R11SAR AUG162014 because her horse hit the rail. Is anything her fault?
Racing Fan 6 months ago
Don't forget her terrible ride in the West Virginia Derby, where she was super lucky to win by a nose when her horse was much the best.
David Schabell 6 months ago
I'm not, nor have I ever been a Napravnik fan. IMO, she is vastly over rated, lacks upper body strength, posses a nice smile, but is full of herself. I think the trainers have finally figured her out and realize that there are many jockeys superior to her in the colony. Also giving her the benefit of the doubt, she is coming off of an injury. What's happened to her is that oftentimes at this meet, she is being made to ride inferior horseflesh, as many of her subordinates have to do on a daily basis. Shed no tears for Rosie however, as Fairgrounds will open before long and she will once again be riding a steady diet of 3-5 shots and will once again be the queen of New Orleans.
TomN 6 months ago
with respect to your premise, the stewards did also[first] put up the inquiry signl, and the jock did use his right hand to "guide "his mount to the inside to squeeze RN's hand. She clearly had the best horse in that race, but as in many races the best horse does not always finish first...she imo waited too long after opting out of an outside tip at the head of the stretch
Yuwipi 6 months ago
Needed to wait a while to vent on the 4th race DQ. Yeah, had the Donk/Spiegel firster to win and under a few. The exacta with the Klaravich horse was very juicy. Granted there was some contact, but do they have to torture bettors for an eternity? Either you can see it or you can't. Was one of these guys wandering the grounds? Aggravating.
Rick Harrington 6 months ago
Probably because it was both an objection and an inquiry, they had to wait for statements from both jockeys, holding up the proceedings for us.
Elliott 6 months ago
Looks like Nevin off the trainer change knocked everyone but the "alls" out, me included. Would have considered based on switch ROI but the rest of the field looked pretty strong.
Jake Footballe 6 months ago
Hi Steve , will you be playing the pick four today ? I keep refreshing the blog and don't see any play listed. I respect your opinion and use it for some races where I struggle with an opinion myself. Hope all is well and keep up the great work!

[Posted it at 4:40 pm. If you didn't see it, this is your lucky day. I didn't give a thought to using the winner of the 8th. -SC]

Anonymous 6 months ago
That, "The Summer Place to Be!" is not a very august catch phrase.
Christine Race 6 months ago
I love to root for Joel and had to transplant for the Arlington show....GREAT racing today whoever your favorites may be
Walt Gekko 6 months ago
Great column you wrote on Thursday on marketing racing. That column reminded me what Keith Olbermann had said at the start of his Tuesday (8/12) show this past week on ESPN2 on what was the 20th anniversary of the start of the 1994 baseball strike and the very similar problems Horse Racing and Baseball face: Where is the next generation of fans coming from? Olbermann had correctly pointed out this past Tuesday while baseball was awash in new money (mainly from regional TV contracts that have gone through the roof), the national TV audience is continuing to erode at an alarming rate and the age of the average baseball fan continues to go up while the NBA has now passed MLB for second in popularity. Everything I heard in that is very similar to the problems Horse Racing faces that I wrote in a very lengthy comment on the article you posted. In a nutshell, the biggest problem the sport has is the fact The Millennials (those born after 1980) don't "follow the rules" of earlier generations and want things when THEY want them with in many cases no regard to tradition. That is why for instance for 2015 I would first cut Saratoga to a five-day, Thursday-Monday week and do it this way, explaining to the locals and current core audience this has to be done in order to bring in the next generation of fans: Thursdays and Fridays: 4:00 PM first post with eight races per program (instead of the traditional nine). Saturdays and Sundays: 2:00 PM first post with 11 races per program. The lone exception to this would be Travers Day, which would be 13 races (starting with the New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase as the opening race of the program) with first post at 12:45 PM. Mondays: 12:30 PM first post with eight thoroughbred races followed at the end of the program with (usually) two steeplechase events. The lone exception would be closing day (Labor Day), which would be 10 flat races with the same 12:30 PM post time. I would have Saratoga on a Thursday-Monday schedule instead of Wednesday-Sunday to reflect the fact that many who do come up to Saratoga do so for a long weekend (hence the early Monday post and the jump races at the end of such programs as Monday is a “getaway day” for many who visit Saratoga Springs in that matter). The schedule would have all Saratoga cards other than Mondays end after 7:30 PM (just after 7:30 closing week) as that would play into what “The Millennials” have shown they clearly want, and that is events to be later in the day as this group has no qualms about being out until all hours of the night even more than earlier generations. It also would have the side benefit of making Saratoga more west-coast friendly (with a considerable amount of additional Saratoga handle coming from the west coast as there would be more overlap with Del Mar) and actually compact the day for those who play both Saratoga and Del Mar, which those bettors probably would appreciate as weekend days at Del Mar can often run past 10:00 PM in the east (Del Mar has no qualms about running past 7:00 PM local time in the summer). Just one part of a lengthy view on this.
Gunner 6 months ago
Lengthy? Get real. Didn't you have something to do with War and Peace?
Walt Gekko 6 months ago
LOL Gunner! This was nothing compared to what I wrote in the earlier reply. At lot of this comes from my own experiences and what I know dealing with college-age people for almost 30 years. I've seen how things have changed over that time and my views are based on what I've seen outside racing, something some inside the sport don't.
billybudd16 6 months ago
I think he co-wrote it.
Roy Wilkinson 6 months ago
I highly doubt the later start times would go over well. They already eliminated the twilight racing this year because local businesses were getting killed. Also, highly doubt many people are going to Saratoga during dinner hours.
Walt Gekko 6 months ago
As one who actually deals with "The Millenials," I can say they clearly are "as advertised." They are of a much different ilk than even my generation (and "Generation X" was considered a game-changing generation 20 years ago), and they clearly have no qualms about being out until all hours of the night. What Olbermann said about baseball this past Tuesday night (and has also been argued a lot by others) also applies to Horse Racing. The next generation has clearly proven to be one that wants things when THEY want them. Local businesses in Saratoga Springs will have to adjust or they will learn what others already have. There is a reason "Four o'Clock Fridays" are extremely popular at Del Mar. Oh, and a 4:00 PM first post on Thursdays and Fridays with a 7:40 PM or so finish does mean many restaurants in Saratoga Springs would be getting a lunch crowd they don't currently get and a lot of shops might actually see more business in the late morning and early afternoon before a late afternoon start for racing.
billybudd16 6 months ago
The issue is there is no parking downtown. I don't care what time they run the races.
Rick Harrington 6 months ago
And yet post time for the 11th race today was right around the time they used to run the 9th race on a 2:30 post.
Richard Land 6 months ago
Utter gibberish. You keep talking about reaching the Millenials, to communicate with them you have to keep it concise, to the point. If you ask Walt what time it is you might get a history of Big Ben.
Christine Race 6 months ago
Are you focusing at the SPA more or watch ARLINGTON? I keep falling back asleep with the BEST PROGRAM...GRRR
hialeah 6 months ago
Very nice picture of a beautiful day at a special place. Unfortunately, that speck at the back of the pack is the one I was with. "Tranquility NOW!"
Anonymous 6 months ago
pins and needle needles and pin it's a happy man that grins
Gunner 6 months ago
If your broke, you can't bet it!