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Saratoga Day 31: August 23, 2013
12:45 pm: Sunny and 75, fast and firm, for the Day 31 Travers Eve card, which features the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes for older-filly sprinters, a $43k pick-6 carryover and the return of Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up The Lumber Guy in the overnight Chowder's First stakes early on the card.
The one-day pick-6 carryover starts with the 5th of today's 10 races, slated for 3:08 pm. Four of the six races in the sequence are on the turf and three are maiden races.
The Lumber Guy, beaten less than a length by Trinniberg in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Sprint, will be making his first start since two dismal efforts at Santa Anita last winter, when he was 7th in both the G1 Malibu and G2 San Carlos. He was 4-5 and 9-5 in those two starts and will probably be shorter today lining up against five fellow New York-breds, though four of them have popped triple-digit Beyers at some point in their careers. If all goes well, he will head from here to the Vosburgh at Belmont Sept. 28th and then a return engagement in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Chowder's First, the namesake of today's second, was a popular statebred who raced from 2004 to 2008, winning 6 of 23 career starts including the 2005 Kings Point and Morrissey.
1:10 pm: Havana, newest Coolmore/Pletcher monster juvenile, won debut at 2-5, leading every step of the way in 1:02.64 for 5 1/2 furlongs, just 13/100ths off track record of 1:02.51.
"He ran well enough that something like the Champagne [Oct. 5] might make sense," Pletcher said after the race.
The Dunkirk-Missy Turtle colt sold for $575k as a March 2-year-old. This is the first crop sired by Dunkirk, who split Summer Bird and Mine That Bird finishing second in the 2009 Belmont Stakes in his final start. Kendall's Boy chased throughout to be a good second for Tom Amoss, who would be being hailed for having a promising 2-year-old if he hadn't run into Havana.
The Lumber Guy opened 3-2 for Chowder's First, likely to go lower given $5.40 early-double willpay from Havana ($2.80).
Here's the early pick-4 plan:
1:35 pm: Palace ($27.00), longest shot on board in $100k Chowder's First, ran down The Lumber Guy in deep stretch and won by three lengths after a hot pace cooked the 4-5 favorite. The Lumber Guy went after speedball N. F.'s Destiny surprisingly early, just off fractions of 21.76 and 44.52. He won the battle, passing the leader and turning back Night Maneuver, but Palace looped them all to win going away in 1:15.70 for 6.5f. Palace, who ran as an uncoupled Linda Rice-trained entry with N. F.'s Destiny, has won 6 of 12 career starts.
3:15 pm: First leg of pick-6 with $43k carry (didn't play) went to second choice Ziggy the Great ($6.70), well-backed Dale Capuano firster. Those who did play got benefit of seeing the action for him on the board in race where there were five firsters, who went off at 2-1, 5-1, 10-1, 17-1 and 38-1. Ziggy the Great completed $1,830 pick-4, more than double the parlay of $27.00, $10.80, $3.60 and $6.70 winners.
4:00 pm: John Velazquez, Saratoga's all-time victory leader, and retired former leaders Angel Cordero Jr. and Jerry Bailey, werehonored this morning with a ceremony in the paddock where they received Saratoga "red jackets" and a plaque in their honor was unveiled.
I'm halfway through the Travers card and recommend an early start: Post time is 11:35 am and before scratches, there are 165 horses entered in the 14 races.
4:30 pm: Rosario getting foot x-rayed after being unseated from Casual Elegance after finish of 7th race (won by Matz dropdown Bustle at $7.40)
4:45 pm: Stop the presses: Two horses whose names are anagrams of each other -- Bustle and Subtle -- just won consecutive races. First time in racing history? Also, only five horses on card had one-word, six-letter names. Four won -- Havana, Palace, Bustle and Subtle -- and Jitney completed the exacta underneath Subtle.
5:22 pm: Judy the Beauty, 3-1 third choice at the time, scratched at the gate for the Ballerina.
5:35 pm: Dance to Bristol, quickly becoming one of the most popular horses in training, won her seventh in a row and her first Grade 1 by holding off Book Review to win the Ballerina. Trained by Ollie Figgins III and ridden by Xavier Perez, the Speightstown filly now has a sparkling career record of 10 victories and seven seconds in 18 career starts. With consecutive triumphs in the G3 Bed O'Roses, G2 Honorable Miss and G1 Ballerina, she has to be considered a leader for the Eclipse Award as the top female sprinter in the nation, and she received a rousing reception today when she returned to be unsaddled. Her time of 1:23.11 was nothing special -- maiden claimers went 1:24.03 two races earlier -- but she is.
5:45 pm: No carryover to Travers Day. They're all covered in the 10th:
5:55pm: Grand Giant scratched from 10th on way to gate.
Starting time for Talking Horses on Travers Day would be appreciated. [As mentioned below, 10 a.m. -SC]
Pick 4 probables seem abnormally high. Lowest is over 700 bucks. [Remember, Dancing to Bristol was third choice in betting when Judy the Beauty was scratched and all the P4 money on her went to Book Review. -SC]
Speaking of horse names, I really miss the calls when Cunning Stunt was racing!
Had the Lumber Guy in that Breeders Cup against the thorn in my side Trinniberg. I will never bet the Lumber Guy ever again. Had him for all the marbles in the Pick 4 and everything else. Much talent but the heart of a pea. Never with my money. George in Naples
Bustle/Subtle.. Double... $27
One Hundred Sixty Five horses and Fourteen races! I don't think I can do it after almost five weeks of Saratoga. I suggest a new feature for Formulator. "Auto-Handicap". You spend perhaps an hour entering your current filters. TRAINER: Add 2 if trainer-Pletcher and race-type- MSW and surface=DIRT. Subtract 1 if trainer=Rice. (Everyone hits a slump now and then). Subtract 10 if trainer=(whatever chronic under 4% trainer that you choose). PACE: Add 1 if horse led at the first call of his last race. Add 3 if none of that horse's opponents has led at the first call in its last five races. You get the idea. Formulator applies your criteria to the specified race. This could save me and many others from slumping into unconsciousness during the fifth hour of staring at the monitor handicapping the Travers' card.
Bustle in 7th.....Subtle in 8th.....same numbers too for what that's worth
Subtle in the 8th showed again how consistent five and a half furlong turf sprints are at Saratoga: Although she went 21.99 to the quarter, on firm turf with the rails down that is actually a slow first quarter in that configuration and she had tons left to draw off easily. For those who hate turf sprints, you have to admit those actually are the most consistent from a pace standpoint.
If they are going with 14 races and an 11:35 AM post as it is on Travers Day, maybe for 2014 NYRA should take what I suggested previously and add the New York Turf Writers Cup to the Travers card as the opening race of a 15-race Travers card with first post at 11:00 AM. That would likely be sufficient to get those who get upset when the NYTWC is carded as the opener on a Thursday of NYRA's back as while it would still be the opening race, it would be on the biggest card of the season in front of probably a much larger crowd at 11:00 AM on Travers Day than it would have been at 5:30 PM on a Thursday. It also would be an incentive to get the more casual fans coming for Travers day to come earlier and make for a smoother flow of those coming in.
Just a tad warm today but the track chowder is pretty tasty.