08/18/2013 11:37AM

Saratoga Day 27: August 18, 2013


12:30 am: Cloudy, fast and firm for Day 27, an 11-race card with seven on the grass including the G2 Lake Placid for 3-year-old fillies.

Apologies for yesterday's early departure; so far so good today. As I recovered on the couch with some raceday medication, I thought I was having a terrible nightmare about Ramsey/Kitten horses I didn't fancy winning three Grade 1 races across the country while I ran 2-3 behind them. Then I woke up and it turns out I hadn't been sleeping. Congrats to Ken & Sarah Ramsey for winning the G1 Arlington Million with Real Solution, the G1 Sword Dancer with Big Blue Kitten and the G1 Secretariat with Admiral Kitten, all of them sired by their increasingly incredible turf stallion Kitten's Joy.

The placement of today's 11th and final race at Saratoga is a second straight annoying departure from what had been a conscientious job at this meet of not making firster-filled races the last of the day. Yesterday a race with three key firsters was needlessly carded as the last, and today the card, the pick-4 and the pick-6 end with a 10-horse field of 2-year-old fillies, seven of them first-time starters. That's inexcusable.

Here are the "Talking Horses" picks:

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

1:10 pm: Zito second-timer Art of the Game ($4.80), 3-1 in opening-day debut when she hit gate and broke behind field, led five-horse baby race from start to finish in moderate 1:18.65 for 6.5f.

Here's some early pick-4 action:

2:20 pm: In the 2nd, the only two debut runners ran 1-2, with well-meant Englehart firster Broadway Musical Gal ($12.40) beating Contessa firster Transit Express. In the 3rd, Comandante put blinkers on and ran like a wild horse, opening a 10-length lead in 22.53 and 44.93 before tiring badly to finish fourth behind 5-1 Boston Proper in race that slowed down to 1:24.11 for 7f.

Overnight for Thursday just came up and it's a throwback -- only nine races, even with a steeplechase (the $150k NY Turf Writers Cup) leading things off. Demonstrative, last year's NYTWC winner, carries top weight of 158, 8 to 20 more than eight opponents.

2:45 pm: Corpulent pick-4 willpays illustrate that race 2-3-4 winners were trickier than their $12.60/$12.20/$16.20 win mutuels might suggest:

3:50 pm: Pletcher second-timer Bashart ($4.50), okay second in debut, opened surprisingly short at 4-to-5, only went up a little, prevailed. As commenters noted, there was clearly bumping between runner-up Arctic Slope (Rosario) and third-place Storming Inti (Castellano) through the stretch, and it was odd there wasn't an inquiry, but it didn't appear to me that the contact affected the order of finish and Castellano did not claim.


4:55 pm: Nellie Cashman, who scored a 20-1 upset winning the G3 Virginia Oaks last time out, finished first at 20-1 in the G2 Lake Placid but was disqualified and placed third for interfering with Watsdachances in deep stretch. Watsdachances was elevated from third to second, with Concise fourth and Tapicat fifth as the even-money favorite.

It's unclear that Watsdachances was going to get there if not bothered, but Nellie Cashman clearly did move over and block her in the run to the wire. It's more visible on the head-on than the pan shot of the race.

Caroline Thomas, who paid $25.20, was winning for the third time in nine career starts and scoring her first stakes victory. The 3-year-old Giant's Causeway-Bit of Whimsy filly, a Joyce Bonner Young homebred, is trained by Barclay Tagg.

The disappointment of the race was Tapicat, favored off a 3-for-4 career grass record and a strong race in defeat off a six-month layoff last time out. She got the easy early lead she figured to, getting six furlongs in 1:12.31 and turning for home in apparent control, but faltered in the final furlong.

5:55 pm: The reign of Kittens continued as Runs Like a Kitten, yet another Ramsey homebred by Kitten's Joy, won the 11-furlong 10th race with a late flourish. If the fractions being announced are even close to reality, this was one of the slowest races ever contested on a firm turf course here, with posted fractions of 26.81, 53.82, 1:21.68, a mile in 1:46.87, and then supposedly a final three furlongs in 34.42 for a final time of 2:21.29, a mere 9.6 seconds (about 57 lengths) off the course record.

I'll leave you for the day with the willpays into the 11th. Six of the 10 are covered in the pick-6:

6:25 pm: The fractions being posted for grass races are getting so absurd they have to be wrong. Supposedly the 11th race went 27.54, 53.80, 1:17.81, 1:40.42 and then a final sixteenth in 5.76 for a final time of 1:46.18. When that first-quarter fraction went up, a justifiably exasperated Tom Durkin called it "probably incorrect."

The winner, in however long it took, was 5-2 Candy Kitty -- who is NOT by Kitten's Joy -- over even-money Kitten Kaboodle, who is.