08/25/2012 11:30AM

Saratoga Day 32: 8/25/12


11:30 am: Happy Travers Morn. Pace yourself: first race goes in five minutes at 11:35 and the 13th isn't until 6 hours and 45 minutes later at 6:20. Warm, sunny, fast and firm for Day 32 with nothing wet in the forecast.

No scratches from the four graded stakes later on except main-track-only Acting Happy from the Ballston Spa. Willy Beamin, who ran Wednesday, winning the Albany Stakes, is still in the lineup for the King's Bishop.

Didn't hear until this morning that there's an extra pick-4 on the extended card, on races 5 through 8, as well as the early one on 2 through 5 and the all-stakes one on 9 through 12.

That unwieldy box to the right contains are my published "picks" for the card as per Talking Horses this morning. They were made before scratches but I haven't had any changes of heart -- yet.

Brigand, open-stakes runner for Baffert dropping into statebred N1x, opened 2-to 5 for the first, is currently 4-5 with 5 MTP.


11:50 am: Brigand ($3.00) an easy winner of the opener over second-choice Jeter in 1:22.08 for 7f.

Early pick-4:

12:15 pm: Honorable Dillon ($7.50), the nearly-white colt who caught my fancy in his debut here July 28, is still green as the Mellon turf -- he didn't want to load, and then wandered around down the stretch -- but he was good enough to hold off away-poorly 6-5 Pletcher firster Delhomme in 1:10.31. The Tapit colt, a $100k 2yo purchase by Joseph Bucci, is trained by Eddie Kenneally.

Delhomme moved up njicely after his slow getaway, ran spottily through the stretch but was moving well at the end.

Scratched from the race was Pletcher's other entrant, Archwarrior, who the trainer and every clocker has been saying is the most impressive 2-year-old around here in the mornings. Archwarrior couldn't get in off the also-eligible list today but is expected to be entered again soon.


12:45 pm: Ton of money in juvenile turf route for Claiborne/Mott second-timer Chuckle -- well-bred, ran okay in slop debut, but 3-to-2 in a firster-laden 10-horse field? Churckle stalked Pletcher firster Slamarama to top of stretch, then surrendered as Slamarama ($13.00) rebroke and ran off. 

Slamarama, a $40k Grand slam yearling purchase by Dogwood, was Pletcher's 20th 2-year-old winner of the meet -- 19 maiden winners and the Adirondack with Kauai Katie.


1:20 pm: Cinemative ($3.40) ridden and won as if she were much the best in the 4th, circling the leaders on the turn with never an anxious moment thereafter. Pick-4 willpays look very generous:

Speaking of the pick-4, remember that the additional one starts here with the 5th race. Not playing it myself -- have plenty at stake in the 5th already, and the 8th is the first leg of the pick-6.


1:50 pm: Figs never lie. Well, hardly ever. Rigby ($6.30), stepping up from $20k to N1x off a runaway victory with a 97 BSF here July 22, nearly as dominant today beating Reload in 1:22.04 to complete all-A $466 pick-4.


3:05 pm: Good luck if you're alive in that middle pick-4 after victories by Summer of Fun at $24.80 and Alarmed Ndangerous at $53.00. Your willpays:


3:15 pm: And away we go with the Travers Day pick-6:



3:40 pm: Kanagaro scratched at the gate, transferring all pick-6 wagers on him to the post-time favorite, who luckily turned out to be box-to-wire winner Optimizer ($8.00). He and Which Market were both 3-1 on the board, but Optimizer was the actual favorite at ($123k vs. $115k). Film Making, off since February, ran well to be along for second at 23-1 with 4-1 Arc Above third. So anyone who used both Kanagaro (5-1 when scratched) and Optimizer is now alive twice, meaning that for pick-6 purposes Optimizer was more like a $5 winner than an $8 winner.

The scratch also moved Kanagaro's backers to Optimizer in that middle pick-4, cutting the price nearly in half from a posted $38,781 willpay to an adjusted payoff of $23,119.


4:15 pm: Zagora ($5.00), who seemed to have lost a step this year, regained it today with a powerful 1 1/4-length victory in the G2 Ballston Spa in course-record time.

The 5-year-old Green Tune mare got a good set-up and made the most of it. Summer Soiree, making her first start November, set a strong pace but began to tire after six furlongs in 1:09.77. Tapitsfly, who had been chasing the leader, had nothing left, but Zagora was in full stride and quickly shot past the leader. Hungry Island was second best, and it was another 3 3/4 lengths back to Summer Soiree in third.

The Ballston Spa was the first leg of a $1 million guaranteed pick-4 that actually handled $1.83 million, up 11 percent from last year's pool of $1.65 million.


4:50 pm: Contested ($4.00) was an easy winner of the G1 Test despite a flat start that compromised the final time of the race but not her chances. Even with a more alert getaway, she probably wasn't going straight to the lead, and within a quarter-mile she was perfectly-positioned, third behind Ullapool's blistering pace of 21.44 and 44.09. She took over from that one and Gypsy Robin on the turn and was a comfortable winner over Gypsy Robin with Beautiful But Blue third and Well Kept fourth.

Contested, a 3-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper who races for Jill Baffert and is trained by Bob Baffert, has won 5 of 7 career starts including the G3 Eight Belles and the G1 Acorn. Her final time of 1:22.47 was the slowest of three seven-furlong races so far today, behind Brigand's 1:22.08 and Rigby's 1:22.04, but her slow start and early rush-up probably contributed to the less-than-stellar clocking.


5:25 pm: Ouch. Just ran second in the King's Bishop with Fort Loudon as an A at 14-1 to the incredible Willy Beamin ($24.60), who knocked me out of everything. Hats off to owner James Riccio and trainer Rick Dutrow for running him back just three days after winning the nine-furlong Albany Stakes and getting him to outfinish a better field than he'd ever met.

Fort Loudon took a shot at Trinniberg around the turn and got by him, but then was swarmed by Currency Swap and Unbridled's Note at the inside and the game Dr. Chit at the outside as Trinniberg fell back. Willy Beamin, who raced comfortably on the rail down the backstretch, then swung out and found a seam in midstretch, turned on the jets and ran by them all as Fort Loudon nosed out Unbridled's Note for second.

Willy Beamin has now won six straight starts dating back to March 23 at Aqueduct, progressing from $25k claimer to G1 winner. Riccio and Dutrow took him from Dominic Schettino that day for $25k and he then reeled off four straoight victories against statebreds including the Mike Lee and the Albany.


6:05 pm: So whose colors go on the front end of the canoe?

The dead-heat between 33-1 Golden Ticket and 2-1 Alpha produced some odd-looking WPS payoffs and a whole mess of multiple mutuels:

I have no explanations for what just happened. We knew it was a weak Travers with no championship implications, but it was still stunning to see so many of the favorites run so poorly. As surprising as it was to see 33-1 Golden Ticket there at the wire, not to mention 32-1 Fast Falcon (who missed making it a triple heater by just a neck), where were Nonios or Neck 'n Neck or Liaison at the finish? (Street Life, who fell back to last around the far turn, was pulled up and vanned off after the race.)

That's horse racing, I guess. Willpays:


6:45 pm: Kris Royal ($16.60) rallied last and widest to win the finale and complete another complicated set of payoffs:

Before you start yelling at me about it: Yes, it makes no sense how dead-heats are handled parimutuelly in NY, a topic I have tried to get anyone at the NYRA or the NYSRWB to address for years without success. The quick version is that they pay out in proportion in the win pool, the double pool, exactas, trifectas, superfectas and pick-3's, but treat the dead-heat winners as if they were the identical price in pick-4's and pick-6's. Anyone who actually used Golden Ticket in either of those bets got a lot less than he should have.

There is absolutely no reason that p-4's and p-6's can't be treated the same proportional way as every other pool.

As for me, I have the pick-6 twice if Fort Loudon wins; instead I get eight consos at $100.50 each. Bah.

Racing resumes at 1 pm Sunday with an 11-race card. the G1 Personal Ensign goes as the 10th with 4-5 Royal Delta vs. 2-1 It's Tricky in a field of six.

Time for a beverage. And I don't mean a Saratoga water.