08/23/2012 12:04PM

Saratoga Day 30: 8/23/12




12:05 pm: Does it ever make sense to try to crush a pick-4 by singling huge favorites in three legs? That's the question facing horseplayers today at Saratoga, where the early pick-4 features three races with likely odds-on favorites, and the other is a four-horse race that will also have a heavy favorite but one I don't trust. Hitting the all-button there still makes it only a 1x4x1x1:

I'm not necessarily advocating such a play, and the ticket above is for illustrative purposes only. I just can't remember seeing a four-race sequence quite like it.

Believe it or not, this is an even looser play than I envisioned when I handicapped the card last night (after a visit to the Washington County Fair, and while watching the Giants complete a sweep of the Dodgers in LA. Sweet.) Before this morning's scratches, the second leg (race 3) was a seven-horse field with two towering favorites, Curve Ball and He Ain't Bluffing. A 1x2x1x1 jumped off the pages. Then this morning, both of them (as well as the #1 Espiritu Libre) were scratched, leaving a field of four -- a firster, two second-timers, and a fifth-timer with the top figs.)

What's really unusual about this sequence is that these are the kinds of races that rarely have an odds-on favorite -- a starter handicap and three maiden-claimers -- much less three (or maybe four) times in a four-race sequence. Whether you like them or would ever bet them, these are truly towering favorites: Saginaw, coming off a stakes runaway, looked odds-on even before Strapping Groom scratched and now he looks like a cinch; in the 4th, D'Tiger's last three races are all 10 Beyer points better than any of his opponents have mustered; and in the 5th, Wandering Kitten holds a similar edge on the competition.

Some would argue that the four-horse 3rd race could be singled as well, that the McLaughlin fifth-timer will dominate at a short price. If that happens, how low can it go? The record-low pick-4 payoffs are all ones with surface-switch "alls" involved, but can a normal pick-4 pay less than $20?

It's a weird way for a weird card to begin.


1:20 pm: Ugly ending to the opener, the 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers Cup steeplechase, when favored Divine Fortune fell while making a winning move over the final fence. Left Unsiad then also fell over him, as 5-1 Demonstrative avoided the trouble and won his second hurdle stakes at the meet. [Update 3 pm: According to NYRA, both horses and riders escaped injury.]

Saginaw currently 1-9 for the 2nd race. Here's how I decided to make the early pick-4 play:

For each $100:

AAAA @ $20 =40

ACAA @ $9 = 18

AACA @ $3 = 18

AAAC @ $3 = 24


1:45 pm: The sun rose in the east and Saginaw won the 2nd at 1-5, though David Cohen had to scrub on him a little to hold off Private Tale by a little more than a length in 1:22.05 for 7f.


2:15 pm: Original Art ($2.60) another front-running odds-on winner, as well-meant Scherer second-timer Crooked as Can be got close in midstretch but couldn't sustain his bid. The Saginaw-Original Art double paid $3.80.


2:30 pm: While waiting for the next odds-on favorite, here's the Washington County Fair report from last night.

Set out after the races for the winding 17-mile drive to the fairgrounds. Received the following text from Mrs. Blog: "Wash your hands between petting livestock and eating corn dogs."

I did all three over the next two hours. Unfortunately, my phone died shortly after I arrived, so I'm light on pictures, but I can report that the goats were as cute as ever, the Icelandic sheep were the softest thing to pet, and the neon-lit, sausage-scented and generally festive atmosphere was throughly inviting.

I can not say enough about the apple cider donuts. Warm, crunchy and brimming with apple goodness, I will take them over any beignet in the French Quarter or croissant in Paree itself. My only regret is that I bought only 18 to last through Travers weekend.

The Fair is open through Sunday night and remains highly recommended.


2:50 pm: The public didn't go for D'Tiger the way I thought they would, making him only a tepid 9-5 favorite, and he managed only a rallying 3rd behind 10-1 Black Ace and 3-1 Torment.

If you liked Black Ace and the two odds-on before him, the pick-4's are pretty rich:


3:15 pm: Wandering Kitten ($4.20) also a bigger price than expected, but this one just got the job done by a neck over 16-1 Bundestag. Still think the single-backup approach was the right way to go in this pick-4, with the trick of course being to make Black Ace one of your backups in the third leg. A $330.50 payoff for a sequence with two 1-to-5's and an even-money is a big overlay.


4:30 pm: Lunar Victory ($3.80), who looked so good winning the Evan Shipman for statebreds here a month ago off a 4 1/2-month layoff, returned to trounce open N3x foes in the 7th. The 5-year-old Speightstown horse, owned by Juddmonte and trained by Bill Mott, was winning his fifth stright race and is 5 for 6 on dirt since being rescued from Europe and grass/poly racing.


5:10 pm: Pianist, who looked so flat when third at 4-5 last time, turned on the jets in deep stretch to power past Kitty Wine and continue the run of chalk.

Despite the last four winners' paying $4.20, $7.80, $3.80 and $4.20, Black Ace's upset of the 4th has set up some nice pick-6 payoffs:

My guess is that one ticket is alive to "all" and two others are alive to the 2,3 and 5. And no, I have no idea why the willpays don't add up correctly -- $59,233 is clearly the 6-of-6 payout pool, but three times $18,299 is $54,897, not $59,233. Are there 3.23695 tickets alive to the 2,3 and 5?


5:45 pm: Tough beat in the finale if you needed 11-1 Donttangowithmango to catch 2-1 Yes She Rules -- Dominguez, on a rare longshot, had tons of horse and nowhere to go until a moment too late. Favorite completed a $191 pick-4 and a pick-6 that paid 95 times as much at $18,299.

Three straight days featuring Grade 1 races start tomorrow with a 10-race card where the $500k G1 Ballerina goes as the 9th. Last I heard, It's Tricky is supposed to scratch and instead try Royal Delta in Sunday's G1 Personal Ensign, which would leave Turbulent Descent a clear favorite over Nicole H. and Derwin's Star.


ML-NJ More than 1 year ago
Yes it was tough! Couldn't believe that horse was double digit odds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
thats gotta be one of the best payoffs on a pick six ever, 5 single digit winners and a $23 horse for a payoff of $18k, it clearly paid 10 times more than it should have
Krzysztof Zawierucha More than 1 year ago
Steve, P6 is $ 2 minimum wager, but what about if somebody bet for $ 2 and 10 cents,...is this possible? this explain some weird payoffs
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
You have to bet it in two-dollar increments - $2, $4, no $2.10. It may be a Canadian-currency conversion issue.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
The portrayal of the P4 ticket is quite, surprisingly, vivid & clear. It entirely skips the process of having to recreate what the action is, and substitutes in its place what the bet actually looks like in stark, physical form. If you're noit swimming in the ABC seas, more of this visual prop detailing the relatively simple betting would be a good thing.
Dale Tillotson More than 1 year ago
Steve. Was their any pig racing at the fair for you to make speed figures on? If so please give out your calculations for such. Saw you walking into the Spa Wednesday,you looked trimmed down and well.
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
I didn't see Robinson's Racing Pigs, or hear the very catchy "They're the fastest little piggies in the whole wide world" jingle, this year. But I hear the rail has been good.
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
It's Rosarie's Racing Pigs and they're located just before the kiddie ride section of the midway, past the Dog Agility Course and Entertainment Tent.
Jerry COOK More than 1 year ago
Steve, Any thoughts about the Las Vegas pari-mutuel fiasco? I live in Georgia, but am flying out Tuesday to Vegas to bet Saratoga. What do you make of it?
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
Here's the best info on the situation: http://www.drf.com/news/las-vegas-dispute-putting-race-book-parimutuel-betting-jeopardy
Gina Adams More than 1 year ago
Kent Desormeaux should get fined for his flagrant use of the whip on the 5 in the 6th race. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian rumored to be in the house.
Alan Stern More than 1 year ago
Wesley Ward has been touted as great with 2 year old horses. I don't see it. He wins 4 1/2 furlong races at Keeneland. He is having an awful meet.
rstanzel More than 1 year ago
Alan, you're dead on, most people say deadly with 2yo's but it's only at Keeneland early on. He generally has awful Spa meets...I looked on Formulator earlier this meet, he is also 0-for-9 with 2yo last out maiden winners at the Spa in stakes...
Michael_McNeill More than 1 year ago
I calculated the parlay as $78 - is this right? If so, $331 is huge
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
It's $77.96 -- close enough.
Jim Kloza More than 1 year ago
Ok, I give up... How did you figure the parlay on the final odds of winners of the P4 at 1/5, 1/4, 10/1, and 1/1, to come out exactly at $ 77.96?
john mitchell More than 1 year ago
John From PA The Giant Sweep was sweet. Amazing after the Melky C. fiasco. Giant baseball is still torture, but a lot of fun at the same time. I too became a Giant fan when the Giants and Willie Mays were in New york, and followed them out To San Fran. because of Willie. I'm way off topic. Your blog would be a treasure even if you weren't a Giant fan.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Baseball player melk-shaked himself; got caught; must sit down for the next 50 games, not the desired winter dates (low purses) in January-Feb. Saved us the trouble of spending ten years in the courts trying to DQ the trainer.