08/29/2013 12:02PM

Saratoga Day 36: August 29,2013

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12:00 pm: A $273,760 pick-6 carryover and the With Anticipation Stakes for 2-year-old turfers headline a fast/firm Day 36, which begins with the final two steeplechase races of the meeting.

The pick-sequence has pretty robust fields -- 12, 10, 7, 9, 7 and 9 -- and only one morning-line favorite shorter than 5-2 (Roses for Romney, 8-5 in the 9th.). The only significant early scratch was General Jack, the 5-2 ML favorite in the With Anticipation.

The With Anticipation is a Grade 2 race in name only, and its continued ranking at that level reflects poorly on the attentiveness of the North American Graded Stakes Committee. The race lacks the standing or quality for that status, and it is particularly illogical because the Pilgrim a month later at Belmont has a lower Grade 3 tag but usually attracts a better and more experienced field. The seven 2-year-olds in today's race have never run in anything except maiden races. Also, why is the With Anticipation a Grade 2 while its companion race for fillies, yesterday's P.G. Johnson, has no grade at all?

The idea that the With Anticipation deserves the same Grade 2 ranking as other NYRA races such as the Remsen, Jim Dandy, Suburban and the Fourstardave is utterly preposterous.

12:40 pm: Here's that pick-6 lineup including scratches announced by 12:30:

Don't forget that with two steeplechases starting the card, the early pick-4 is on races 3 through 6 rather than the usual 2 through 5.

1:15 pm: Broken Record Dept.: I renew my offer for anyone at NYRA to explain why a firster-loaded race such as today's 8th was carded in the middkle of the pick-6 sequence rather than being switched with the 3rd, an allowance race with the same number of entries and fully-exposed form.

It looks at best careless and at worst a deliberate attempt to make life difficult and expensive for customers. Everyone understands that on a day loaded with 2-year-old races, it's hard to keep firster-fests out of blind spots in every exotic multirace sequence, but today's 8th is the only such race on the card and could have been much better positioned.

1:55 pm: All-steeplechase $97.50 early double went to the only gray in both fields and a pair of steeplechase training legends: Jonathan Sheppard took the N2L first with Bluegrass Summer ($11.00) and Janet Elliot sent out The Grey Express ($13.00) to win the Mrs. Jeffords.

2:20 pm: In the 3rd-that-shoulda-been-the-8th, even-money Little Rocket ($4.20) led all the way and held off 5-2 Keep Bustin in 1:23.50.

2: 50 pm: In the 4th-that-coulda-been-the-8th (and I'll stop now), Star Harbour put in a powerhouse perfecormance off a 90-day layoff, leading throughout and drawing off by 12 1/4 lengths in a very quick 1:14.76 for 6.5f. The 5-year-old was making his first start for a tag ($35k) and running in that almost extinct creature -- a completely open claiming race with no nonwinners-of-x or winless-since-x eligibility conditions.

3:15 pm: Okay, time to rock and roll:

Play came out to $2496 -- $2400 on conventional ABC play, added $96 ticket combining B's in races 7, 8 and 11.

3:45 pm: One down, five to go. Nuffsaid Nuffsaid, fourth choice at $16.40, took command from Margaret Lilian on the turn and comfortably beat 3-1 fave Victory Island.

4:25 pm: Kingston Bay ($4.10) a 1 1/2-length winner and looked it every step, as he broke sharply, sat second to Bocelli, went by that one easily and nobody threatened thereafter.

Board for the dreaded 8th opened with Carlos Martin firster Winekeeper the 2-1 favorite, though she's second choice in the pick-3's to third-timer Friends Pro and third choice in the doublees behind that one and 8-1 Violette firster Lon Island Lee. I made Winekeeper an A only because she was a 2-year-old purchase and Castellano was named to ride, but I sympathize with anyone who left her out in favor of currently dead-on-board firsters from higher-profile outfits. This is why you're supposed to give people a look at the board on firsters whenever possible -- it's hardly infallible but it can only help to know that a 5-1 ML firster is being bet to 2-1.

4:40 pm: Long Island Lee, Violette firster who was second choice in double ($23.20) but 7th choice at 10-1 in win pool with 1 MTP, scratched at gate. You inherit Winekeeper, now 8-5.

4:50 pm: Third choice Asmussen firster Coal and Ice ($10.60), seemingly out of it midstretch, closed relentlessly to nip Winekeeper at the wire. Winekeeper, a bit reluctant to load and fractious in the gate, ran to her action but tired late. A triple-A start but I'm thin late: 1,6,9/1,3,6/4,10 and 3,4/1,3,6/4.

5:05 pm: Downtown Hottie, 13-1 on board, a late scratch at 7 MTP for the 9th. Sure would be nice if we had the alternate-selection option in NY instead of everyone who used her getting moved to a horse they almost certainly had (even-money, for now, Roses for Romney) a second time. My substitute would have been Adriatic Dream, who's slow on figs but has been keeping better company.

5:20 pm: If you needed 4-to-5 Roses for Romney, it was a case of "They're off, you lose." She took a right turn out of the gate, shutting off Adriatic Dream, and would have come down had she prevailed. Instead, she then became extremely rank and was shut off at the rail, pulled her way up to third and then steadily retreated and finished last. Meanwhile, Lady's Lunar Luck ($11.40) fell into a dream trip, sitting second to 50-1 Simplistic and grinding past her through the stretch with 9-1 Pure Amour third and 7-2 Funny Money 4th. So it's 1,3,6/4,10 for the win.

5:55 pm: Bashart led all the way to win the With Anticipation , holding off a late charge from 7-1 River Dancer, and I still have no idea why the other Pletcher trainee, Waiting For Artie, went off the narrow 5-2 favorite with the lowest turf fig in the field. Bashart, a War Front colt, owned by Rosedown Racing. "Bashart" is a Yiddish word for destined.

Here are the willpays into the finale. I've got Brandys Secret for $16k and Broken Trust Fund for $36k. Here's hoping.

 

6:25 pm: Oh well, that's racing. I was not bashart. Made about $2k in hedges on the rest of the field including $200 to win on the victorious 34-1 Hunter Forward to go with the two $1,163 consos , but geez-- first time, I think, I've been beaten by an Australian-bred  steeplechaser who fell last time out. Congrats (grrrr) to the two people who hit for $424,936.