08/17/2014 12:28PM

Saratoga Day 27: 8/17/2014


1:30 pm: It's hard to put much lipstick on yesterday's Alabama Stakes. Stopchargingmaria is clearly better than the fillies she beat, but her time of 2:05.14 for the mile and a quarter was the slowest Alabama in 45 years, and was good for a Beyer Speed Figure of just 82. Since 1991, when the Beyers were first published in The Racing Times, no Alabama had received lower than a 96.

It's hard to quarrel with the figure. The track was quick enough to produce a clocking of 1:22.60 for seven furlongs in one N1x allowance, and the only other dirt route ion the card was another N1x that went in 1:50.21 for nine furlongs. Stopchargingmaria needed almost 15 more seconds to complete an additional furlong.

The one footnote to the above: The only slower Alabama in the last 50 years was the 1969 edition, won by Shuvee. Perhaps the track was very slow that day. Shuvee, who was making her 20th (!) career start in the Alabama, had already won the Frizette, Acorn, Mother Goose and Cotillion (at Liberty Bell), and would go on to win seven more stakes including two Jockey Club Gold Cups.

As for today's card, the two stakes are the restricted Alydar in the 9th and the Grade 1 Sword Dancer as the 10th.

2:30 pm: Let's catch up on the early racing.

In the opener, at 11 furlongs on the turf for older maiden fillies, 17-1 Small World (Darley/McLaughlin) and 14-1 Sky Bird (Coolmore/Zito) ran 1-2 around the track in that order. Their front-running causes were surely helped by an olpening six furlongs in 1:18 flat, allowing them to sprint home in 1:00.28 for the last five furlongs.

After Go Olivia Go ($8.40) won the $16k claiming 2nd for Repole/Levine, nine 2-year-old fillies lined up for a grass route in the 3rd, and the first two finishers were impressive: Tammy teh Torpedo ($6.20), a Long Lake/Chad Brown firster by More Than ready, picked off horses around the stretch turn as if they were standing still and then drew away. Runner-up Eskenformoney (Eskendraya) trailed early but finished well.

3:00 pm: House Rules ($3.50), dropping from a pair of Grade 1 tries to N1x company, trounced her opponents in the 4th, winning off by 6 1/2 in 1:52.04. The Distorted Humor filly was second in the G2 Davona Dale and G2 Gulfstream Oaks last winter before running 6th in the Acorn and 4th in the Mother Goose.

Here are the early willpays. The pick-5's are roughly 20 times the size of the pick-4's thanks to that $37. winner in the opener:

3:55 pm: Ring Knocker is probably a future stakes filly but she's still a maiden after two starts at the met. On Opening day, she raqn a winning race but was caught late by By the Moon while 10 lengths clear of the third finisher. Today she ran into another buzzsaw: Top Decile, a Congrats/Klaravich/Stall firster who dueled with her all the way before inching clear late.

Apologies: It's taking longer than usual for these dispatches to reach the website today, and something seems to have gone awry with commenting. So here's the play for the late pick-4, nice and early:

5:00 pm: Well that didn't work out too well. Dulcedumbre (Spanish for "sweetness") wore down 7-2 Discreetly Exclusive to win the 8th in an upset. With the first three winners in the pick-6 sequence paying $14.00, $13.00 and $27.40, combining for a $1,166 pick-3, a carryover is a distinct possibility.

5:40 pm: Farhaan, the longest shot in a field of six headed by his uncoupled stablemate Alpha, swept past the leaders to score a 3 1/4-length upset in the $100k Alydar. Stormin Monarcho was second with Alpha a weary third at 9-5, beaten 8 1/2 lengths, after setting the pace.

Farhaan and Alpha are both trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and both are Maktoum homebreds. Farhaan races for Shadwell and Darley-bred Alpha races for Godolphin.

Farhaan ($17.80) ran the mile and an eighth in 1:49.87. It was a huge effort by the 5-year-old son of Jazil while making his first start since April. Prior to that, he won the Stymie at Aqueduct feb. 22.

6:00 pm: With a roughly 99.4% chance of a carryover, here's what tomorrow's pick-6 lineup looks like:

The weather forecast calls for a high of 80 degrees and a 0% chance of rain.

6:20 pm: In a virtual rerun of the United Nations July 6, Main Sequence came flying late to nail Imagining and Twilight Eclipse in the Grade Sword Dancer. The finish matched the order of betting, as the winner was 2-1, the runner-up 5-2 and the third finisher 3-1.

After winning his first four starts and then running 2nd in the 2012 Epsom Derby, Main Sequence hit a 10-race losing streak until he was sent to the U.S. In the United Nations, he was coming off an eight-month layoff and trailed early, then finished well to catch Twilight Eclipse. Today he was off even slower, but the rally got there again.

Main Sequence, a gelded 5-year-old by Aldebaran, is a Flaxman Holdings homebred now trained by Graham Motion. He covered the mile and a half in 2:24.72 under Rajiv Maragh.

Despite the favorite's victory, there is indeed a pick-6 carryover to tomorrow. I'm guessing the carry is in the neighborhood of $71k (three times the biggest conso.) 

6:50 pm: Breakeven Analysis ($7.x0), Lemon Drop Kid 3-year-old making his first start since November for Chad Brown, prevailed in a five-horse blanket finish and then withstood an inquiry and foul claim to win the nightcap over 9-1 King of Bay.

I guessed right exactly once today: The pick-6 carryover is indeed $71,602.