08/28/2013 12:26PM

Saratoga Day 35: August 28, 2013

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12:30 pm: Where did the summer go? It's the start of Closing Week at Saratoga, with a 10-race Day 35 card that includes the My Flag Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the P.G. Johnson Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, and a $65,602 pick-6 carryover from Monday.

I'm still undecided whether I'm playing the pick-6, and I say that without a drop of whine. It's just not my kind of sequence -- 5 of the 6 are on the grass, three are for 2-year-olds (two of them loaded with firsters) and three are for maidens. What I'm considering is an unusual (for me) and small play where I would flat-out single those first two legs, thus basically playing the sequence as a $2 pick-4.

In the opening leg, Clement second-timer Bluegrass Flash ran well enough in his debut to win most 2yo NY turf routes. In the second leg, Hushion firster Sleek meets a weak bunch and her workouts match up with those of stablemate Artemis Agroteras, who won her debut by a pole with an 86 Beyer here Aug. 16.

I understand that both will be strong favorites, that there are other interesting contenders and neither is a cinch. But if I start making backups and spending money on wacky C's, the cost spirals out of control.

Anyway, I've got until 3:08 pm, post time for the 5th, to figure it out.

1:15 pm: Guess the public knew what it was doing betting the opener, the year's first dirt route for 2-year-olds, as if it were a two-horse race between WinStar's 9-10 Commissioner and Live Oak's 9-5 Souper Lucky. The two finished a head apart in that order after 9f in 1:51.26 and it was more than 22 lengths back to the rest.

If you've been wondering why some Live Oak horses (Souper Speedy, Souper Lucky) have "soup" in their names, it's because owner Charlotte Weber (#359 on the 2013 Forbes 400) is the granddaughter of condensed-soup inventor John Dorrance and a Director of Campbell's Soup.

Has there been a horse named Souperfecta?

2:45 pm: Here are the willpays (gigantic thanks to Kimmies Lucky Star at $89 in the 3rd) into the 5th, last leg of the early pick-4 and first leg of the pick-6 with $65k carryover:

I'm playing the pick-6 as outlined earlier but backing up just a little in the first two legs. Like so:

The play comes out to $696 including an all A's and B's ticket.

Something seems to have gone awry with the commenting system today. Apologies. It's strange not getting your feedback.

3:15 pm: Yay, Clement won the first leg....oh wait, not with the 4-to-5 Bluegrass Flaah I singled, but with uncoupled 21-1 firster Blue Pigeon. Shoulda stuck with that first impulse to sit this one out.

And no, in answer to the comments I'm not seeing but that I imagine you're sending, I do not think this was some sort of betting coup by the Clement Empire. I understand both sides of the coupled/uncoupled argument. Maybe there's a case for coupling in maiden races to avoid outcomes like this.

Something went awry with Bluegrass Flash, who was perfectly placed behind the leaders and came up dead empty turning for home, finishing 6th beaten 11 3/4..

The souperfecta of 21-1 Blue Pigeon, 7-1 John Bailey, 38-1 Balderdash and 10-1 Mohican Chief came back $33,803, and the early pick-4 paid $156,761.

3:50 pm: Sleek at 3-2 couldn't outrun me, and 5-2 Miss Narcissist ran off with the 6th. The Linda Rice trainee pitched a fit behind the gate in her debut, misbehaved again today, but was all business when the race started. Donk firster Selenite made a big move on the turn and raced well in spots to be third despite swishing her tail most of the race.

4:40 pm: We're back after some technical issues made this entry disappear for a while, and the commenting system is now allegedly working. So feel free to catch up and unload.

Very good chance of a double-carryover with $44.80 and $27.00 winners in the first three legs, combining with Miss Narcissist for a $1,589 pick-3. Here's what tomorrow's sequence (races 6-11) looks like:

5:00 pm: Granny Mc's Kitten ($5.70), a nose loser to Miss Frost in her debut a month ago, caught Miss Frost with a furlong to go and held off 15-1 Duff One to win the $100k P.G. Johnson Stakes. She was the 19th winner at the meeting for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, a new record for owners.

The race honors the popular and widely respected trainer, who died in 2004. From his plaque in the Racing Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 1997:

"For 36 consecutive years (1968 through 2003), Johnson won at least one race at Saratoga. Among his stakes winners at the Spa were Geraldine’s Store (1983 Diana Handicap), Kiri's Clown (1995 Sword Dancer Invitational) and Maplejinsky (1998 Alabama Stakes). He also trained Quiet Little Table, who upset Forego in the 1977 Suburban Handicap. Johnson’s biggest victory came in 2002 with a horse he co-owned named Volponi. At 43-1, Volponi pulled off a shocking upset in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Arlington Park, winning the race by a record 6½ lengths. Johnson died on Aug 6, 2004. He won 2,315 races in his training career and earned purse money totaling $47,519,937.

5:30 pm: Double carryover! Image of Disco's front-running victory at 14-1 in the 9th killed any live tickets. The front-running speedball looked like he was going to get run down by yet another Kitten (Sneaky Kitten) but just held on while clearly tiring -- though the Teletimer claimed he ran each of his four quarters successively faster. Willpays into the finale:

I'm guessing the carryover is in the neighborhood of $275k, given that there are consos paying $69k, which would be one-quarter of today's after-takeout pool. So that's about $210k, plus the $65k carry from Monday. I don't know why NYRA doesn't announce it immediately when there are no live tickets, and I'm not just saying that so we'd sell a few extra newspapers to people on their way out. Why not alert people and generate a little excitement?

Speaking of excitement, here's the field for Saturday's Woodward:

 

PP

Horse

Jockey

WGT

Trainer

Odds

1

Ron the Greek (FL)

J Castellano

126

W I. Mott

12-1

2

Successful Dan (KY)

J R. Leparoux

126

C LoPresti

5-2

3

Fort Larned (KY)

B Hernandez, Jr.

126

I R. Wilkes

4-1

4

Flat Out (FL)

J Alvarado

126

W I. Mott

7-2

5

Paynter (KY)

R Bejarano

126

B Baffert

3-1

6

Mucho Macho Man (FL)

E S. Prado

126

K Ritvo

6-1

7

Alpha (KY)

J R. Velazquez

126

K P. McLaughlin

15-1

6:00 pm: Lasso ($11.20) took the finale, and the carryover to tomorrow is $273,760. Get cracking.