08/29/2013 12:02PM

Saratoga Day 36: August 29,2013


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.

Karen Usuriello Kovzelove More than 1 year ago
I make it my business to read your article everyday because it is never the same old 7/5 picks you and that guy andy .s pick what your money is going on. Ido not see why people who are paid to give insight into the races always hedge with the favorites?anyone can explain a 9/5 morning line favorite but try a 9 to 1 shot! tough beat yesterday but to be alive with 2 horses going into the last leg was A one handicapping people who do follow your opinion had a smile keep on keeping on. this is one tough gamewho brings out the humbleness in all of us
Elias Katogiritis More than 1 year ago
Mr Crist love your blog, please do a good deed and introduce the Ticketmaker to the so called expert handicappers [who] just threw $50,000 of their customers money in the toilet, if anybody wants to see incompetence please take a look of how these 3 stooges constructed the tickets they couldn't even get 5 of 6 they singled 2 4/5 shots so in all probability even if they hit the p6 they probably lose money...
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Steve, I was pulling for you big time in the nightcap. Glad to hear you did the smart move with the CONSOS.. I just said the other day the pick 6 was in your future. The last was pretty difficult to come up with
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Car bound all day and couldn't root along. Tough beat but great hedge Steve.
William Waters More than 1 year ago
Steve, Numerous readers--and you, as well--have repeatedly vented this season on their pet peeve, e.g., your aversion to firster races in the pick 6 sequence. Here's my gripe: I bet throught 4njbets/TVG, and I watch the Spa races over the TVG cable show. Why does it take Saratoga almost forever to post correctly the numbers/names of the first four steeds as the race is being run? It seems like an eternity before they do the initial posting on 5.5 furlong turf races. It's 2013! Is it time to spend the money for Trackus? Thanks for making the meet so much more enjoyalble. [Trakus is coming this fall. -SC]
David Oppedisano More than 1 year ago
Some comments for the Broken Record Department... I agree that the racing secretary shouldn't build the race card with the intent to create difficulty for the multi-race bettors. I also don't have a problem with the Pick-6 players' contention that a firster-fest shouldn't be placed in the middle of the sequence, under the theory that the bettors are the race track's customers and if customers don't get what they want, they'll go elsewhere. But I disagree with the notion that every jump race should be run at the beginning of the card to appease the Pick-6 crowd. Each of Saratoga's two graded stakes races for jumpers deserves to be run as the feature race - the second to last race of the day. To do otherwise disrespects the many fine jump trainers and riders, and I cringe every year when I see the entries for the jump stakes race days and the big race is run as the first or second on the card. I personally would rather bet a jump race than any of the cheap claiming races that have (sadly) become part of the Saratoga landscape. I get that there are no speed figures to rely on and that the past performance running lines and split times don't mean much for jumpers. But there are other handicapping factors that apply just as much to jump races as to any others. One can still form an opinion on a jump race by looking at class, company, trainer intent, age, breeding and any of several other factors. I think it's time for the Pick-6 players to acknowledge that they can suck it up for a couple of days a year and play the jump race so these important races can be returned to the traditional feature race placement.
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
My vote sure doesn't count for anything David, but I agree with you across the board. One of the very fondest memories I have of 38 years of going to Saratoga is of a Steeplechase Stake carded as the feature on a Thursday (?) afternoon. Jonathan Sheppard legged up Danielle Hodgson on what I recall was her first stakes winner. The scene of total jubilation in the winner's circle was something that will always stay with me. You're right, it's about a little respect for a part of the game with such great tradition and stories.
joseph More than 1 year ago
That was a brutal beat, but glad to hear you covered yourself nicely. I guess your in favor of taking out "insurance" or insanity insurance as you call it sometimes, look forward to reading about how you spread and would like your thoughts in general about using insurance when its warranted etc.
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
you are the best
Ryan Cale More than 1 year ago
all of these comments crack me up. :-) no one cares that the races are fixed. even the pros just grin and bear it. so you don't have to try so hard to come up with silver linings as distractions. i myself have a hard time keeping a straight face when i watch some of these so called "races". but everyone on track handles it with aplomb so you don't really have any worries. they really should stop calling them 'races' and refer to them as 'performances' but otherwise, i think everyone is in the clear. jc and jv deserve extra props for their performance in the 9th. i'd be rank too if you did that to me.

[Maybe, just maybe, the races are not "fixed" and you're in a tiny minority of people who believe that they are. -SC]

Carmine Joe More than 1 year ago
Way to hedge! The sweet-smelling soaring bird of schadenfreude flew a little bit lower because of it. :)