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Saratoga Day 29: 8/22/12
By Steven Crist
12:45 pm: Fast, firm, sunny and 78 degrees for day 29 of 40, the start of Week 6 a/k/a Travers Week.
They drew a field of 11 this morning for the 143rd edition of teh Travers,with Alpha pegged the 5-2 ML favorite followed by Nonios at 4-1, Neck 'n Neck at 9-2, Street Life at 5-1 and Liaison at 8-1. It's an unusual Travers when you don't have the 1-2 finishers from any of the Triple Crown races, but those four divisional leaders are either retired (I'll Have Another, Bodemeister, Union Rags) or sidelined (Paynter). The only other horse with name recognition outside the cognoscenti, Hansen, this morning was declared out of the race, and probably retired.
As for the Wednesday card, the featured Albany for seven New York-bred 3-year-olds goes as the 9th, and, well, there's parimutuel racing on the rest of it, starting with the upcoming 1st -- the first all-firster race of the meet, with six statebred two-year-olds making their debuts. Good luck.
1:15 pm: Firster-fest went to 7-2 third choice Meet the Mets, a $145k yearling purchase last fall. The Bruce Brown trainee squeezed through a hole in upper stretch and outfinished 8-1 Schosberg first Sandy'z Slew, with favorites 7-5 Saint Arthur (Martin) and 3-2 Goodtolook (Contessa) fourth.
Meet the Mets is named for the New York Mets fight song, which was drummed into the heads of baseball-watching children in the 1960's along with such other musical classics as "Baseball and Ballantine" ("What a combination, All across the nation!") and "Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one." Those beery sentiments were eventually deemed politically incorrect, along with the original lyrics to "Meet the Mets," which included the couplet "Bring your kiddies, bring the wife/Guaranteed to have the time of your life," replaced by "Hot dogs, green grass, all out at Shea/Guaranteed to have a heck of a day." I don't know if it was further altered when Shea Stadium was renamed CitiField a few years ago.
1:45 pm: Jess Not Jesse ($6.50), who just held off 7-1 Ziptronic to win the 2nd, is becoming a winning machine after a long dry spell. A winner of his debut here as a 2-year-old in 2008, he then lost all seven of his subsequent starts at 2,3 and 4. As a 5-year-old and now a 6-year-old, though, he has won 5 of 6 including his last four straight.
2:25 pm: Travers Day overnight just came out. Travers goes as the 12th of 13 races with a scheduled post of 5:46 pm. All-stakes $1m guaranteed pick-4 begins with a field of 8 in the G2 Ballston Spa, then 10 in the G1 Test, 10 in the G1 King's Bishop and 11 in the Travers. Card consists of five maiden-specials, four allowance races and the four stakes -- not a maiden-claimer or conditioned-claimer in sight, as it should be on Travers day.
2:45 pm: Another outstanding ride by Joel rosario, who won his 20th race of the meeting in the 4th: He put Adjacent, who had never shown speed, on the lead through slow fractions, waited for the other favorites to go into a drive in upper stretch, but had saved enough on his mount to restart her and she held off Sylvestris and Warm Hugs in a long drive to the rail.
Willpays fairly generous for a pick-4 sequence that started with winners at $6.50, $7.90 and $4.80:
5:10 pm: Back to back Pletcher winners in the 7th and 8th, neither of them pretty races.
In the 7th, Coach A. J. blasted to the lead, began to tire in upper stretch, but held on while running a diagonal line bearing out to the wire. In the 8th, 14-1 Colony Strike won a virtually racelong duel with 9-5 Bluember, pulled away midtrsretch and held off Washington Rules while tiring, then Bluember broke down in his left front nearing the wire. Ramon Dominguez, Bluember's rider, went down and then Cornelio Velasquez also fell, from Money in Motion, while avoiding the fallen horse and Dominguez. Both riders got up and appear okay, but Bluember was vanned off. [Update 5:53 pm: Bluember was euthanized.]
5:40 pm: Willy Beamin ($4.30), entered this morning for Saturday's G1 King's Bishop, was an easy runaway winner of a weak Albany Stakes for statebred 3-year-olds. Since his trainer is Rick Dutrow, who loves quick wheelbacks, anything's possible and at least you could argue the race probably didn't take too much out of him -- he got away with an opening six furlongs in 1:14.05 en route to a final time of 1:50.34. By contrast, the starter-allowance horses in the 8th went 1:11.21 and finished in 1:50.30.
Update 6:09 pm: Owner James Riccio on WB running back in the King's Bishop: "“As long as he comes back all right and Rick says ‘Let’s do it’, then we’ll do it. It’s all up to Rick... We’ll cut back, and maybe we’ll get lucky."
All but one in the finale covered in the pick-6, which feels like it hasn't carried over in ages:
6:17 pm: Krissy Kay ($16.20) held off 2-1 Warm Glow to win the finale. Cypress Pond lost her rider at the start.
Tomorrow's nine-race card (they have to clear out the customers early for a Travers Celebration party) starts with the NY Turf Writers Cup steeplechase, and the eight flat races include three straight maiden-claimers as the 3rd, 4th and 5th.
I purchased this horse at The Timonium sale for the owner. He and I have been whistling this song to this horse from day 1 of the Saratoga meet. At this point, I'm certain trainer Bruce Brown (a lifetime Oriole fan) is sick of hearing it. Prior to shipping Meet The Mets to Bruce from the training farm in Ocala, Bruce asked me if the horse had any talent. I told him, "We knew he can run, we just don't know if he could hit".
Wow never realized they changed the lyrics to Meet the Mets!! What was so not PC about the original? Good luck and hope all in the Travers make it through the rest of the year
Why do they run so many maiden races at Saratoga?
"not a maiden-claimer or conditioned-claimer in sight, as it should be on Travers day." Hallelujah!! Amazing how the old jingles stick in the memory banks. Lifelong Yankee hater but still remember the Ballantine song from back in the day. Other than your signing of my "Offtrack" book last Saturday Steve, the only other autograph I've ever gotten was from Vada Pinson of the Cincinnati Redlegs. Old Polo Grounds, 1962 (or was it '63?), and he made lifelong fans of a few 13 yr old kids when he strolled over to the sidelines and spent what seemed like forever talking to us. Remember it like it was yesterday.
Steve, Have you checked lately are there stewards at Saratoga? Kriisy Kat in 10th drifts out about seven paths carrying the chalk out! Mike
I was alive in the 10th to the 9. The 4 came over at least 3 paths or more. Am I wrong to feel cheated?
Does anybody know of an app that will allow me to use the DRF BETS version of Ticketmaker on my IPAD. Apparently, that version needs Adobe Flash, which the IPAD does not support. Is there any way around this?????
East side, west side, everybody's coming down To meet the M-E-T-S Mets of New York town Rheingold is my beer, the dry beer.
The last 7 days of the Saratoga meet has been heavily weighted toward chalk and the second favorite in terms of winners. It has been a real snooze-fest and money burner. To what variables do you attribute this moment in time? It it simply a statistical anomaly? Are the smaller field 2 yr old races and the non-lasix participants a factor? Does the dwindling horse population and the lack of quality play a role? Is it due to the super-trainers and the fact that they have all the good horses and the remaining trainers left with very low quality horses? I would appreciate your perspective as I try with great futility to beat, what I would consider, very vulnerable favorites. Many thanks. Your blog is awesome and you are a very talented writer.
Thanks for the interesting comments about "Meet the Mets" and "Bring your kiddies, bring you wife." I had no idea!
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