08/21/2013 11:09AM

Saratoga Day 29: August 21, 2013


12:10 pm: Sunny and warm, fast and firm, for a day 29 that features Amberjack's bid for a Big Apple Triple sweep in the Albany Stakes, and a $60k carryover into a poorly-arranged Pick-6 sequence. Only 71 horses for 10 races after scratches, with fields of 8,7,6,6,7,8,7,8,6 and 10,

After doing a considerate and thoughtful job of race placement during the first four weeks of the meeting, either carelessness or a willfull attempt to frustrate multirace bettors seems to have prevailed in the last week. The placement of a firster-filled juvenile turf sprint as today's 8th race -- when it would have worked better in almost any earlier spot in the card, preferably one beginning a multirace sequence -- is an affront to pick-6 and late pick-4 bettors.

If someone had put 30 seconds of thought into it, the race could just as easily have been carded and switched with the 2nd, 3rd 4th or 5th without forcing carryover players to handicap a firster-fest in the dark without benefit of seeing the toteboard. If anyone from NYRA would like to justify this decision, you can have all the room you want right here in this space.

Back in a while with a full report on yesterday's dark-day book-buying, donut-eating and pig-racing festivities.

1:35 pm: So especially once I saw the pick-6 lineup meant I'd be playing lightly or not at all today, I made yesterday a full dark day from (horse) racing. It started with lunch at Druthers Brewing Company , a welcome addition to Broadway. It has a large selection of craft beers I didn't try, but lunch selections of mildly creative pub food were plentiful and I recommend the Thai Burger, proof that anything tastes good in spicy peanut sauce.

From there it was time for the annual visit to the Lyrical Ballad at 7 Phila Street, one of the nation's great bookstores of any kind and one with an unmatched trove of historic racing titles.

There is room after room of beautiful old volumes and prints and if I'd stayed any longer I would have left with even more than copies of a 1956 edition of "Across the Board: Behind the Scenes of Racing Life" by Toney Betts (Anthony Zito); a 1969 pamphlet called "How to Read The Morning Telegraph Charts and Past Performances," and a 1926 detective novel called "The Race Track Crooks, or Nat Ridley's Queerest Puzzle."

As usual I forgot to bring my list of missing years of The American Racing Manual, but the Lyrical Ballad has them back to the 1950's if you're looking to complete your collection.

Next door at a tiny, cluttered antique store called Reruns, I found an ancient NYRA giveaway item I don't remember seeing the first time around: A Hopeful Stakes drinking tumbler inscribed with the names of Hopeful winners from Native Dancer in 1952 through Summer Squall in 1989, and featuring the silks of the 1990 Hopeful winner, Deposit Ticket. Cost: $4.00, plus 28 cents sales tax.


And then, on to the Washington County Fair, which runs through Sunday night and is worth a visit if you have even one-tenth of my fondness for state fairs. Barn after barn of adorable sheep and goats, horses of many breeds, cattle great and small, baby-pig and weiner-dog races, and any foodstuff you can imagine made with genuine upstate maple (I came home with maple butter, maple mustard and maple cashews after washing down a corndog and an Italian sausage with a maple milkshake. Kindly keep your healthy-eating observations to yourself.)


Even better were the hot apple-cider donuts ($1 apiece, two dozen to go for $20), which for the first time I saw being made: the freshly fried donuts, the batter already infused with apple cider, come up a little conveyor belt still sizzling, and then drop directly into a bowl of cinnamon sugar, which is immediately cooked into a crispy shell as it is dropped into a white paper bag. Instant happy.

As for the early double, Weaver firster Court Dancer ($8.30, Rosario subbing for injured Espinoza), statebred by War Chant, was a six-length winner in the opener. In the 2nd, 6-5 Tanglewood Tale outfinished 8-1 Belle Gallantey by a long head.

2:00 pm: Is it just me or is this ad for the Travers on Saturday a tad parochial on NYRA's part?

Isn't Verrazano's major calling card at this point that he won the Haskell last time out, rather than his victory in the Wood Memorial four starts ago, even though the Haskell was run at Monmouth rather than a NYRA track?

2:45 pm: Sayaad ran his five opponents off their feet in the $100k dance of Life Stakes, scampering off to an early lead and parlaying 6f in 1:10.06 into the fastest mile of the meeting, crossing the wire five in front in 1:33.77. (Wise Dan ran 1:34.00 on slower footing winning the Fourstardave Aug. 10) Sayaad, a Street Sense colt who sold as a weanling for $450k to Shadwell, is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.

Dance of Life, the race's namesake, was a Rokeby homebred (Nijinsky II-Spring Is Here) who beat Theatrical by 5 1/2 lengths in the 1987 Sword Dancer here but was disqualified and placed second for impeding Theatrical entering the stretch. I wasn't here that day to to see it -- I was at Monmouth covering the Haskell, where Bet Twice beat Alysheba by a head.

Here are the willpays into the 5th, last leg of the early pick-4 and first leg of that pick-6 I'm not playing:

Point Taken (#5) is the 8-5 favorite. He was also favored in the double, pick-3 and pick-4 pools.

3:20 pm: Point Taken ($5.60) completed $102.50 early pick-4 and started pick-6 with $60k carry on a chalky note. Jacobson (12 wins at meet) trainee stalked 5-1 Itsagoodtendollars early, took over top of stretch and drew away despite tiring from 1:11.58 6f pace to final time of 1:51.08. Talk Therapy rallied belatedly for third after very slow start, others including 2-1 Tuvia's Force did little running.

3:50 pm: A $5.60/$5.60 start to the pick-6 after With Diamonds, calimed from last for $40k and in for $25k today,overpowered 5-2 Fly Solo as the narrow favorite. I'm Smokin Hot finished very strongly for third.

Here's my action this day: 50-cent late pick-4: 3,4,5,6,7/all/4/2,4,5,6,7,10 = $120.

4:10 pm: Post time for 7th delayed until 4:18 after TV truck took another power hit.

4:25 pm: Apex, 2-1 fave dropping to $40k in seventh career start, ran down 3-1 Cowboy Prince to become third straight winning fave in pick-6 sequence.

Here's a quick look at Thursday and Friday cards here. Just starting to make my way through the Travers Day lineup.

5:00 pm: All-button, not toteboard, was your friend in the 8th as Shadwell/McLaughlin got their second of the day with Street Cry firster Almurra, longest shot on board at 22-1. Ward second-timer ruslana shot to front, tired badly through stretch, as 2-1 favorite. Pick-3 to odds-on Amberjack is paying $153, others $649 to $3k.

5:35 pm: Escapefromreality set a slow pace and had enoughleft to keep Amberjack from going by him to win the $150k Albany and deny Amberjack a bonus of $250k for a Big apple Triple sweep. Escapefromreality, a Read the Footnotes gelding trained by Dominick Schettino was in front through 24.56, 49.30 and 1:13.37 (claimers went the 6f of a 9f race in 1:11.58 earlier on the card). Amberjack was just off him in second but could not get by him as Escapefromreality finished in 1:51.61. Here are the willpays into the last of today's 10. All but one are covered in the pick-6, at payoffs ranging from $30k to $332k, which would be the size of the carryover if 0-for-10 Brandy's Big Guy finds the 11th time the charm:

Winner of the annual ice-cream eating contest was Josh Parkhurst, 38, of Rotterdam, NY, who required just 41.1 seconds to down a pint of Stewart's vanilla. His prize: Gift certificates for more ice cream.

5:53 pm: Slick Daddy (#1), one of the one-ticket $332k live pick-6 horses, scratched at the gate.

6:05 pm: Horse Latitudes ($14.20)won finale for Hertler/Solis to complete $4,103 pick-4, $41,769 pick-6, and Day 29 at Saratoga.