08/22/2013 11:30AM

Saratoga Day 30: August 22, 2013


12:30 pm: Sunny, fast and firm for a rare nine-race card on Day 30, with the stakes racing early in the card: the new York Turf Writers Cup steeplechase is the first of the day at 1 p.m., an hour before Easter Gift and Casaba square off in the five-horse overnight Alydar Stakes.

With only nine on the card for just the second time at the meeting, don't forget that the late multirace bets start earlier than usual -- the pick-6 (with no carryover) starts on the 4th race and the late pick-4 begins with race 6.

1:10 pm: Italian Wedding, part of a three-ply Jonathan Sheppard-trained entry favored at 19-to-20 ($3.90), won the $150k New York Turf Writers Cup to open the card.

The 8-year-old Alphabet Soup-Effervescent gelding is not only owned and trained by Sheppard but also was bred by him. ("I own his dam and his grandmother," Sheppard said after the race.) Italian Wedding only one of his 19 prior career starts on the flat, finishing 6th in a 2009 maiden race at Colonial, and has slowly worked his way up to the elite ranks of steeplechasers. He was sidelined more than a year before returning to the races with a good second in the A. P. Smithwick Aug. 1, then jumped forward a few lengths today with a career-best performance.

I've got to finish up a Travers column but I'm putting in the following early pick-4 play for some background entertainment while I write:


2:20 pm: Vitoria Olimpica, a Group 1 winner in Brazil making his dirt debut, outfinished 6-5 Easter Gift to win the $100k Alydar stakes in 1:49.10 for 9f.

The 4-year-old Northern Afleet colt, a TNT Stud homebred now trained by Todd Pletcher was sixth in a turf mile in his U.S. debut July 24th after leading to midstretch. Today he was third early behind Percussion and Csaba, moved on the far turn, seemed destined for no better than 2nd when passed by Easter Gift, but fought back at the inside as the favorite sputtered late.

And I'm pretty sure that ad above is, as several commenters suggested, from 1907. Six races each day, rain or shine!

2:50 pm: Big bloated pick-4 willpays:


Remember, no breather race between pick-4's today, as the second one starts in race 6.

3:20 pm: Horvat Clan ($9.30), reclaimed by Ramseys/maker in last, swept to lead from last and edged away from Native Wave to complete $5,051 early pick-4. Onwards:

4:25 pm: The Ready to Act race here July 22 has yielded heavily overbet losing favorites in 2yo filly turf sprints here the last two days. Yesterday, the runner-up from that race, Ruslana, was off the board at 2-1 as McLaughlin firster Almurra won at 23-1. Today in the 7th, the third-place finisher behind Ready to Act and Ruslana, Pletcher trainee Super Sky, was a bizarre-world 1-to-2 and ran second to 8-1 McLaughlin firster Sky Painter. Fourth-place finisher Duff One did win her next start, but that was an off-the-turf race Aug. 9 that earned a winning BSF of 50.

5:05 pm: With Sugar On Top, 11-1 outsider in inscrutable 8th, moved last and best to create the following willpays. Only two of the nine in the nightcap are covered in the pick-6 -- one winner each at $43k, or a $43k carryover to Friday:

Here's the Travers Day card. You might want to get to work now if you're going to play all 14: