08/24/2012 10:50AM

Saratoga Day 31: 8/24/12


As bad as The New York Times's recent "news" stories about racing and medication have been, its editorials on the subject are worse. This morning's latest dishonest tirade reaches new lows in willful misinformation.

Since March, the Times has pulled out all the stops in depicting American racing as an exercise in animal cruelty, with absolutely no context for its repeated claim that virtually everyone involved in the industry is murdering horses at a record rate. Making no distinction between the legal, regulated administration of therapeutic medications, and the rare instances of actual doping and perfidy, the Times blames it all on "a culture of drugs," and has a nasty one-two punch going: Its reporters paint a false picture, and then its completely uninformed editorial writers take it three steps further, embellishing the already distorted "news" with righteous condemnation.

According to the Times's editorial, there is a "rampant doping scandal that is threatening the American racing industry." Its source? Their own flawed reporting.

Many of those who thought the Times's series of attacks on the sport might be tolerable if it brought about some positive changes changed their minds after a universally-discredited article last month that tried and failed to make a case that I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont because he was improperly dosed with powerful painkillers. In fact, he received nothing illegal, improper, or different from virtually every horse in training. Rather than retreat from its premise, which was rejected by veterinarians and horsemen from every camp in the medication debate, the Times editorialists doubled down on it this morning:

"The tragically foreshortened career of the colt I’ll Have Another in the recent Triple Crown races laid bare racing’s easy culture of doping and toothless enforcement of penalties against trainers."

No one in an official capacity in racing calls them out on this routine misrepresentation. Industry "leaders" do nothing but shake their heads and call it "sobering" while failing to challenge it, enabling and encouraging a continued assault on the game that would not be tolerated in any other arena the Times covers. The silence encourages regulators to meddle through unnecessary, grandstanding nonsense like the "increased security" for horses running in the Travers; invites the Federal government to undertake what would be a disastrous takeover of the sport; and encourages politicians to withhold and withdraw funds from the sport.

We will return to our regularly scheduled programming with first post at Saratoga at 1 pm.



1:20 pm: Today's early pick-4 does not appear to have any odds-on favorites, and I'm taking a spreadier approach:


1:32 pm: Bozique, 5-1 at the time, just scratched at the gate for race 2. If you used her in the pick-4, you get moved to the post-time favorite, who appears to be 7-5 Go The Distance.

1:34 pm: ...who just reared up and threw Junior Alvarado at the gate, also causing Desert Traveler to rear and lose his rider, but everyone appears okay and the two horses are being reloaded.

1:36 pm: ..and by the time the horses had gone an eighth of a mile, No More Fives had become the 8-5 favorite with Go the Distance drifting up to 2-1...

1:37 pm: ...and No More Fives led from start to finish with Go The Distance a late-closing 2nd.


2:25 pm: Dominguez somehow found his way to the rail from the outside post, slipped inside the early speed on the turn and held off 6-5 Professor Fate to win the 3rd on Reserved Quality -- 4th at Parx four days ago -- at $6.90. Think that makes 16 of the 22 races here starting Monday that have been won by horses 3-1 or lower. 


2:45 pm: make that 17 of 23 after Bridgetta ($3.30) ran away from a sorry collection of statebred maiden-claimers in the 4th. Your willpays:


3:20 pm: Thought Ampersand would be favored in the 5th but The Thinker was favored in every pool. Race turned out to be a thriller between the 2nd, 3rd and 4th choices, and it was Ampersand ($8.10) outfinishing 7-2 Gimme Credit and 5-1 Hear the Footsteps, with The Thinker nowhere to be seen -- perhaps worth keeping in mind when a slew of horses who finished behind him return tomorrow on the Travers card. The Thinker''s race Aug. 4 came up a fast one -- his time of 1:35.14 wasn't far off the De La Rose stakes in 1:34.87 -- but the first six finishers all ran sharp new tops if it was as fast as it seemed.


4:30 pm: Just finished first pass through Travers Day card and there's plenty to keep you busy. Here's a little pocket-sized set of lineups for the four stakes races, the 9th through 12th, which constitute a $1 million guaranteed pick-4 and the 2nd through 5th legs of the pick-6:


(HiW=Highest Winning Level)


5:40 pm: Turbulent Descent ($2.90), the lone G1 winner in the field, won her first start for new connections in the G1 Ballerina, scoring by 1 1/4 lengths. Derwin's Star was a good second at 8-1, with early leader Acting Happy third and Nicole H. a disappointing and distant fifth as the 5-2 second choice.

Turbulent Descent had made only one start this year, winning the Desert Stormer at Hollywood June 17th. She was subsequently sold to the Coolmore group and switched from trainer Mike Puype to Todd Pletcher. She is a leading contender for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, a race in which she finished 5th after an eventful trip last year as the 7-5 favorite. The 4-year-old daughter of Congrats has now won 8 of 12 career starts, incliuding G1 triumphs in the Hollywood Starlet at 2 and the Santa Anita Oaks and Test at 3.

Your willpays into the last race before Travers Day:

The slim chances of a $73k carryover to Saturday rest on the withers of longshots Shewresckstheplace, A New York Phillie and Difficult Creek, the only uncovered runners among the dozen in the 10th.


6:15 pm: No carryover, as Bluegrass Rumeor ($13.20) opened a big early lead through 6f in 1:10.89 and just held off the late charges of favorites Let the Kitten Run and Picture Book.

A baker's dozen races tomorrow, with the 1st at 11:35 am and the 13th at 6:25 pm. I'll be doing my final Talking Horses of the meet in the Carousel starting at 10:05 am.