08/19/2012 1:14PM

Saratoga Day 27: 8/19/12


1:10 pm: Partly cloudy, mid-70's, fast and firm for Day 27, where a field of six will contest the featured G2 Lake Placid.

But let's talk about starter-allowance races, since we've got three of them on today's 10-race card. I've been getting a lot of questions about them as they've become more common in New York lately, and some fans are confusing them with starter-handicap races, which are a horserace of a different color.

The general idea behind these races is to provide a spot for maiden-claiming graduates that falls somewhere below  a conventional N1x allowance race but above an N2L conditioned-claiming race where an owner would have to offer the horse for sale. There are lots of horses who win $25k to $50k maiden-claiming races who are not exactly stakes-bound but who are worth more than the tag they would be offered for if they went straight to the claiming ranks. So I find it useful to think of these races as an N1x for maiden-claiming graduates -- sort of a "B" level N1x.

Let's break down the conditions for one of these races, using today's 4th as an example: "For fillies and mares three years old and up which have started for a claiming price of $50,000 or less and which have never won a race other than maiden, claiming, or restricted, or optional claiming price of $50,000 for 3-year-olds."

So to be eligible, you have to have a)started for a claiming tag of $50k or less AND b)not won an allowance or stakes race. So for the most part, this means you've won one race, and it was probably a maiden-claimer, though not necessarily: In this particular race, #1 Cosmic Energy won a maiden-special in her last start, but because she ran in a $50k maiden-claimer earlier in her career, she's eligible. (Her seven opponents all won their lone race in a maiden-claimer.)

There's one additional twist, the "or optional claiming price" part, where horses with multiple victories can face these limited winners if their owners are willing to risk losing them. No one was entered that way in the 4th, but two such horses are in the 6th race including ML favorite Our Entourage. He has won a maiden-special and a straight N1x but is in for a $65k claiming tag so can run.


1:20 pm: Today's opener for 2-year-old fillies went to the heavily-favored Coolmore entry of Kimono (2nd to Lignite in her debut) and Kansas (second to Kauai Kate last time out), who ran 1-2 to the delight of bridgejumpers: The entry commanded $192,60 of the $217,067 show pool, and paid $2.40, $2.30 and $2.10 across the board.


2:20 pm: Race 4, first of three starter allowances, is a wide-open affair where I couldn't draw a firm X through anyone, but here's some betting you don't see too often: #7 Shesa Heartbreaker is the 6th choice of 8 in the 2-3-4 pick-3, and the 7th choice of 8 in the 3-4 double...but has opened as the 5-2 favorite in the win pool.


2:45 pm: Cosmic Energy (as discussed above, theonly MSW winner in the starter-allowance field) bet 4-1 to 5-2 late and just held off 22-1 Arsenal, longest shot in field, to win the 4th. Shesa Heartbreaker, whom opened 5-2 favorite, took no action thereafter, drifted all the way to 9-1, and was not competitive after her saddle slipped down the backstretch.


2:55 pm: Is the Mad Bomber of yesteryear back? I can almost see betting $20k to make $4k on Kimono/Kansas in the first but now someone has bet over $50k on Citizen Emma in the 5th, opening her at 1-to-5. Huh? She's okay and can win the 5th if none of the firsters is anything special but 1-to-5 on a grass 2-year-old who ran a perfect-trip trouble-free second in an ordinary race in her debut?


3:25 pm: Try to remember the 5th race today the next time you get all paranoid and intimidated by the so-called "smart money" bet by the "they" who "know."

Citizen Emma, who took the ridiculous $50k early punch in the win pool, went to the front early but was dead by the top of the stretch and finished fifth behind a group led by Broken Spell -- who came out of the same race as Citizen Emma and endured a tougher trip while finishing less than a length behind her. Broken Spell, who sould have been no more than 4-1, paid $15.80.

Broken Spell broke two other spells: She was the first winner of the meeting for D. Wayne Lukas after a 0 for 28 start. She also was the first Lukas 2-year-old to race with Lasix, adding it after three Lasixless starts for an outfit that had signed on to the little no-Lasix bandwagon until today.

Also, Stonestreet Stable lost a race for the first time at the meeting after a 6-for-6 start. Their Curlin firster, J'esprit, finished thrid after a world of trouble without which they might be 7 for 7.


5:10 pm: It looked like Stephanie's Kitten was going to get shut off at the rail in deep stretch again, just like she did in the Lake George July 25, but this time she found room to move out and around at the sixteenth pole and ran down Centre Court to win the Lake Placid.

It was the first graded stakes win for Stephanie's Kitten ($4.20), a Ramsey homebred trained by Wayne Catalano, since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall.

Centre Court, the Lake George winner, was second, three-quarters of a length in front of Somali Lemonade with Medolina fourth after leading to the furlong pole.


5:40 pm: Molly Morgan ($8.50) got up  in the final stride to nail Fiftyfourforever in the 9th, setting up the following willpays on a day when 7 of the first 9 have gone to the first or second choice in the betting:

6:15 pm: Read the Research ($6.10) a box-to-wire winner of the nightcap to complete a $259 pick-4 and $5,935 pick-6.

It's a 10-race Monday card to finish the racing week tomorrow, with the featured Union Avenue being run as the 5th.