08/22/2012 1:33PM

Saratoga Day 29: 8/22/12


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.