08/26/2012 12:13PM

Saratoga Day 33: 8/26/12


1:15 pm: You could argue that the matchup between Royal Delta and It's Tricky in today's featured Personal Ensign is the best race of the meeting -- a rematch between the 1-2 finishers in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff (a/k/a Ladies' Classic), Alabama and 3-year-old filly Eclipse voting.

It's terrific just that they've both come back to race as 4-year-olds, and they've burnished their records: Royal Delta (Empire Maker-Delta Princess) is 7 for 12 with $2.2 million in earnings. It's Tricky is 8 for 12 with $1.5 million in the bank.

Royal Delta will deservedly be favored, but the Personal Ensign regrettably has been shortened from 10f to 9f this year, which probably makes it a closer contest  -- Royal Delta beat It's Tricky by 5 1/2 in the 10f Alabama and by only 2 1/2 in the 9f BCLC. There should be enough pace for It's Tricky to stalk and Royal Delta to wait behind, though there's an intersting sidelight to the pace scenario -- Todd Pletcher is taking the blinkers off speedball Love and pride, so maybe she won't be as eager as usual.

Royal Delta is coming off a visually unimpressive victory in the Delaware Handicap, where she was under a long drive to beat Tiz Miz Sue by a neck, but her connections say she didn't like the Delaware track that day and did not extend herself more than necessary for victory. She has trained more enthusiastically since arriving here.

I was going to try to get out of here before the races but it was just too pleasant a morning, so I decided to enjoy a little Saratoga and took a walk through town and Congress Park before stopping by the hippodrome for a final Hattie's sandwich and a fresh lemonade. The revised plan is to pack up the house while watching and kibbitzing the races and be downstate for the final eight days of the meeting starting tomorrow.  


1:40 pm: Claiborne/Dilschneider/Stall unveiled a good-looking 2-year-old filly in the 2nd when Sign (Pulpit-Cross) circled the leaders and drew off by a wide margin [update: 11 3/4 lengths] at 10-1. The winner was cold on the board as were the distant second and third finishers, Pletcher firsters Honor Bright (10-1) and Marcellina d'Oro (6-1). Graceful Rage at 17-1 ran fourth with the two fillies who took most of the money, Violette second-timer Lenderoflastresort at 6-5 and Matz firster Apologize at 2-1, nowhere to be found.


2:00 pm: Sign's broodmare sire, Mighty, rang a distant bell but I couldn't place him. Turns out Mighty was a son of Lord at War and he too raced for Claiborne and Dilschneider. A winner of 3 of 13 starts in 1999 and 2000, Mighty's shining moment was a victory in the 2000 Louisiana Derby, where he won by two lengths (with a BSF of 105), beating More Than Ready and Captain Steve.


2:35 pm: Overnight Beyers from Travers Day: Zagora 102 (Ballston Spa), Alpha/Golden Ticket 100 (Travers), Willy Beamin 97 (King's Bishop), Contested (Test) 91.

The dirt variant was split between the early and late dirt races, with the main track judged to have slowed down by 6 Beyer points. This seems entirely appropriate unless you really think Brigand and Rigby's N1x allowance victories were better than the two G1 sprint stakes.

2:55 pm: Fiddlers Afleet ($10.20)rallied and then held off 2-1 Sailmate by half a length to win the $100k Clever Electrician and complete a sweep of the meet's two stakes for older statebred sprinters for trainer David Jacobson. The trainer sent out Saginaw to win the John Morrissey here Aug. 1, then ran him back in a starter handicap earlier this week while pointing Fiddlers Afleet to this spot. Fiddlers afleet, a 6-year-old by Northern Afleet, is owned by Gary Barber, who claimed him for  $40k in April one start after the horse ran 9th at 70-1 in the Santa Anita Handicap.

Thanks to 10-1 Sign, all the pick-4's are paying over $1k despite subsequent 6-5 and 4-1 winners:


Here's an odd one: #5 Breathaway, 3-1 on the ML and second choice in the pick-3 and pick-4, opened 13-1 and is still 11-1 with 10 MTP.


3:55 pm: Mr. Cowboy was an easy winner of the 5th at $5.60, completing a $1,008 early pick-4. Breathaway belatedly bet down to 9-2, showed little.

Eoin Harty won his first of the meet in the 6th, sending out second-timer Heidi's Holiday ($10.40) to a rally-behind-a-duel victory in a statebred juvenile filly race. Both 2-year-old races today were won by owners who have said they will not race their 2-year-olds on Lasix this year  -- Claib orne (sign) and Bill Casner (Heidi's Holiday.)


4:45 pm: More from action than conviction:


5:22 pm: Eversoul, 15-1 shot with a chance, scratched with 1 MTP. if you used him in the pick-4, you're getting switched to Barocci, currently even-money.


5:35 pm: Bombaguia ($9.60) held off 4-5 Barocci to win the 9th.

Royal Delta (#4) opened 1-5, It's Tricky (#1) 4-1 for Personal Ensign. Willpays into race suggest they'll be somewhat, thought not radically, closer together in price by post time:


5:55 pm: They're 3-to-5 and 5-to-2 with 2 MTP.

6:10 pm: Love and Pride, beaten 9 1/2 lengths by Royal Delta last time out, shed blinkers and caught a perfect slow-paced trip to upset Royal Delta and It's Tricky in the Personal Ensign. At least It's Tricky had an excuse, falling on her face at the start, rushing up to recover, slipping through to lead at the top of the stretch and then understandably tiring. Royal Delta was parked in third the whole way, looked ready to roll in upper stretch, and instead hung badly. She fell back to fourth before spurting at the evry end to make it close, but did not look like her usual strong self at all.

Love and Pride is a 4-year-old A. P. Indy filly owned by Green Hills Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher.

The upset left only two combos alive in the pick-6, favites #10 Fair Trade and #13 Verde Mont. Otherwise, it's a $72k carryover to Monday:

Assuming it's the same person who's alive to the #10 and #13, it appears that player will be pretty well-consoled if he misses the big prize: There are only two or three live consos to six other horses in the race -- the conso payout pool is $24k, one-third of the 6/6 payout pool -- and that person would have at least two of those. 


6:40 pm: Uncovered Owen Rico ($14.80) wired the field in the finale for Bush/Leparoux to give you a $72,440 carryover to tomorrow. Doubt I'll be playing, given travel time and the  thoughtless placement of firster-fests as the 8th and 10th tomorrow, but I'll be back at the desk on Long Island by the time the sequence starts at 3:13 pm.