08/17/2013 11:29AM

Saratoga Day 26: August 17, 2013


11:30 am: Sunny, fast and firm for Day 26, a 12-race endurance test that includes a pair of $600,00 Grade 1's, the Alabama for 3-year-old fillies and the Sword Dancer for older turf routers. One scratch from each so far: Tell a Great Story from the Alabama and Teaks North from the Sword Dancer. The two stakes will be telecast between 5 and 6 pm ET on the NBC Sports Network.

The rest of the card is a little short on quality, with two maiden-claimers and two conditioned claimers in the mix, but most of them are competitive gambling events that I'll be deconstructing on "Talking Horses" with Andy Serling in about 15 minutes. Here are my pre-scratch picks:

1) 4-3-10-8-6; 2) 1-9-8-4-3; 3) 5-9-6-3; 4) 8-6-4-2; 5) 9-11-1-10 6) 5-2-8-3-12; 7) 6-9-3-5-8; 8) 7-6-2-8-10; 9) 4-10-5-8; 10) 4-5-6-3; 11) 12-13-9-6-11; 12) 3-4-6-1-10.

1:20 pm: Ugly ending to opener as tired Heading to Toga broke down just after wire and rider Jose Espinoza was removed from the track on a stretcher. Fantastic Eyes ($10.40) was the winner, surviving a foul claim from Javier Castellano aboard runner-up Ideal Place.

The early pick-4 play:


1:45 pm: D. Wayne Lukas ended a 0-for-31 Saratoga drought sending out second-timer Strong Mandate to win the 2nd, the day's lone juvenile race, at $34.00. Tiznow-Clear Mandate colt showed little running 5th to Big Sugar Soda in his debut here, but fell on to a clear lead today. Tepidly-bet Asmussen firster Tapiture chased throughout to be second, with 2-1 Pletcher firster Rebraned off last and up late for third. Crescent, 2-1 favorite off closing third to Corfu in debut, trailed.

2:00 pm: Ripoff alert: Don't run out of cigarettes at the track here.

They're sold at only one location -- a t-shirt stand on the ground floor of the grandstand -- and they cost an outrageous $16 a pack.

Race 3 went to G W's Hammer ($11.60), first winner of the meet for John Hertler, holding off a late surge by 8-5 fave Ocala Jim.


2:40 pm: Midnight Taboo, 12th in the Belmont stakes two starts back and 4th at even-money last time out,redeemed himself a bit by outfinishing uncoupled fellow Pletcher trainee Golden Lad to win the 4th. Nice pick-4's if you're alive:


3:50 pm: Sandy'z Slew wired the 6th at $31,00, keying a $20k super as 41-1 Ludo Bagman was fourth behind the winner, 6-1 River Tune and 9-1 Lord of Love. Iron Power missed the break as the favorite.

Joe Rocco Jr. off his mounts for the rest of the day with back pain. Cornelio Velasquez now rides Al Khali in Sword Dancer, Javier Castellano picks up Tiu in 11th, Shaun Bridgmohan on King Wando in 12th.

Coincidentally, I too have left the track with back pain and will be doing the second half of the card from the house off the tv. Put in a little just-in-case caveman pick-6 play on my way out: 5,6,8,9/2,6/4,5,10/4/12/1,3,4,6,10 = $240.

4:40 pm: Ampersand looked like he had the 8th race won when he got through at the rail in deep stretch, but along came a pair of 23-1 shots to nail him at the wire, with Sandyinthesun nosing out Lure of the South to give former rider Robbie Davis his first winner of the year as a trainer after an 0-for-27 start.

6:00 pm: A championship-level performance from Princess of Sylmar in the Alabama.

With any luck, I'll be back tomorrow for "Talking Horses" at 11:45 and around here for the rest of the afternoon. The Sunday feature is the G2 Lake Placid (race 8 of 11), where seven 3-year-old fillies are slated to go 9f on the inner turf.


Robert Hagood More than 1 year ago
Steve: I love the images you find and post. Head Play won the 1933 Preakness and the back of the 4 pack had a nice drawing of the finish: http://www.network54.com/Forum/526604/thread/1301259794/last-1301353903/1933+head+play+cigarettes
Karen Usuriello Kovzelove More than 1 year ago
steve could you please tell me in such a great race as the million a tic- tac foul results in dq? no stewerd inquiry but jock object for something done in 75 percent of N.A racing where is the love?as stated all month euros tower over American grass horses (the apache)like euros 5th or 6 best?what is your opinion of race
spicetruck More than 1 year ago
I think the head on replays tell a good story.
ghost2_ More than 1 year ago
I think cigarettes should cost at least $30 a pack, the gross, stinky, unhealthy things that they are. Wish I could have been at the track to see Princess of Sylmar run.
Vince Piscitelli More than 1 year ago
Agree. They should be $177 a pack. No offense to Steve - he may be in the minority, and I enjoy his writings, but 99.99% of smokers I see couldn't care less about where they smoke or who the smoke might affect. After all, if smokers don't care about what they put into their own lungs, they certainly don't care about second hand smoke. Vince P
Dale Tillotson More than 1 year ago
At the start of the meet Ken Ramsey said this year was dedicated to winning as many owner titles at tracks as possible, and next year the goal was on quality and not so much quantity. Quality officially began several months early today. Congrats to the Ramsey stable.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Some thoughts as we have the seemingly annual conflict between the Sword Dancer and Arlington Million: It's time in my view for NYRA to make some long overdue adjustments to the stakes schedule on turf for older horses that get rid of that conflict and the one in July between the UN at Monmouth and Man o'War: First, with the Fourstardave likely getting Grade 1 status next year, I would move that race back to its old spot on the schedule on opening weekend (when it was the Darryl's Joy) and lengthen it to 1 3/16 Miles. That would make it the perfect NYRA prep for the Arlington Million and race even more fitting of Fourstardave than it already is. A beefed-up Poker stakes can move from Belmont Park to Saratoga OR the Bernard Baruch (shortened to a mile) can be moved up to replace the Fourstardave on the middle Saturday of the Saratoga meet, and the Bowling Green (currently run on opening weekend of the fall meet at Belmont Park) can be moved into the Sword Dancer's current spot on the schedule (and lengthened to 1 1/2 Miles) to give Saratoga horsemen a chance to run in a long-distance Graded stakes race). The John's Call (with the race no longer carrying restrictions) could be lengethened to 1 11/16 Miles (same start point as 5 1/2 furlong races on the Mellon course) and also be run opening weekend to be the prep for the American St. Ledger stakes on the same day as the Million at Arlington. Second, I would move the Man o'War back to its old spot on opening weekend of the fall meet at Belmont Park (three weeks after the Arlington Million) from its current spot late in the spring meet at Belmont, which removes that conflict with the UN Stakes at Monmouth. That to me would be a much more suitable opener to the Belmont fall meet anyway. Third, I would move the Sword Dancer to opening weekend of the spring meet at Belmont Park in late April (or closing weekend at Aqueduct in years opening weekend at Belmont is also Derby week). That would make the Sword Dancer both the first big-money turf race of the year in New York and a very viable alternative for trainers who want to go longer than the 1 1/8 Miles of the Churchill Downs Turf Classic on Derby Day at that time of year. That to me would make for a more smooth schedule of grass races for older males and remove two big conflicts that seem to come up every year.
thomas j More than 1 year ago
Like General Beck said in the movie Valkyrie: "this is a military (government) operation---nothing ever goes according to plan."
Bill Opalka More than 1 year ago
My recollection is that the Fourstardave was shortened from 1 1/16th to a mile to have it conform with win-and-you're-in, or at least a BC Mile prep. I also remember that the Sword Dancer featured six-horse fields for the past decade. Now, with 12 this year, I imagine NYRA will say "what's the problem?"
cmoney404 More than 1 year ago
Is anyone else hopelessly tired of these "I would do this and then that" posts? I know I am. I don't get it.
kingsailor2 More than 1 year ago
Surprised smoking still even allowed in the state of NY. Perhaps one could obtain a "medical smoking" prescription.
Elliott More than 1 year ago
They should ban cigar smoking! Spent two days this week trying to elude those foul stinkers! Should be a special area at the training track for those stokies. Also had a tough time finding a decent dinner anywhere on Broadway. Some of those joints should be closed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No action on the Alabama, but enjoyed Durkin's call at the break. Sounded just like Keith Jackson.
Dale Tillotson More than 1 year ago
Back pain probably came from carrying the $16 pack of stale cigs, leftovers from last year.
kenneth russell More than 1 year ago
Once again, it is absolutely ridiculous that one cannot bet a superfecta in a full field Sword Dancer Stakes...
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
It's the absurd rule on no Superfectas on races with coupled entries, likely because at the Harness tracks you can sometimes have as many as four coupled entries (in a stakes race) or other situation where the superfecta can go to the seventh or even eighth place finisher. That's what I believe they worry about.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Blame the stupid rule not allowing super wagering with races containing coupled entries. Maybe New York could allow same owner entries to run as separate in graded stakes.....Nah , makes too much sense!
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
Grade I's shouldn't have coupled entries. I already knew which of the two in that race was the stronger half and which one was going to be used as a pacesetter.
PSU More than 1 year ago
Steve---Did you really mean to leave Royal Blessing out of your P6? Or is that a typo? [Typo -- I used 2 and 6, my top two picks. -SC]