08/31/2013 12:42PM

Saratoga Day 38: August 31, 2013

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12:40 pm: You didn't think we were going to get through a whole Saratoga without one rain-drenched Satujrday, did you?

Heavy overnight rains have left course conditions sloppy and yielding, and all turf races except the G2 Baruch are off the grass. There are scratches aplenty in the five off-the-turfers (1,2,4,6 and 11). As for the stakes, Willyconker and Za Approval are out of the Baruch (race 8). Saratoga Snacks is out of the Forego (race 9), and so far only Fort Larned is out of the Woodward (race 10), which was announced Thursday. There's still some question as to whether Mucho Macho Man will run depending on the track condition.

1:10 pm: Mlle Margaux ($42.60) upset the first, coming up the rail at the top of the stretch and outfinishing four others who were still in it at the furlong pole. Track appears slow and tiring based on 6f pace of 1:14.51 and final time of 1:54.50 but tends to change as it dries out on days like this.

1:20 pm: It's official: Mucho Macho Man is scratched from the Woodward, now down to a field of five with superfecta wagering cancelled.

1:45 pm: Financial Mogul ($6.10) outbroke field, fell back to fifth, rallied threewide and swept past the field, drawing off and geared down at the end. It doesn't seem to be one of those sloppy tracks where races are effectively over after the first quarter, and both inside and outside routes seem okay.

2:10 pm: Honor Code ($8.50), 2-year-old McGaughey firster by A. P. Indy from Serena's Cat, came flying up rail late from far back to win debut in 1:23.48 (compared to 1:24.20 for off-the-turf 2-year-olds one race earlier.) Honor Code races for Dell Ridge Farm and Lanes End Racing. Hard to trust slop debuts but this was as visually impressive a 2-year-old performance as we've seen at the meet.

2:45 pm: Here are the lineups for the last two days of the meeting:

 

3:30 pm: Honor Code's race looks even better now that we've had three 7f maiden races for 2-year-olds; Honor Code(race 3)-1:23.48; Financial Mogul(race 2)-1:24.20; Grand Arrival(race 5)-1:24.48.  Here's what McGaughey told NYRA after the race:

"He's a big, nice horse. He's had a reputation for a while. [Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] came over and worked him in the gate one day, and he worked real well. I knew he wouldn't be quick, but I knew he would finish. I didn't think he'd get back as far back as he did, and [Velazquez] didn't, either. He said, 'I'm just going to drop him in and school him, let him get the mud in his face.' And then he said when he reached back and hit him, he just took off with him. Even if he got beat, I'm glad he stayed [inside] just so the horse would learn. [The Grade 1, $400,000 Champagne on October 5 at Belmont Park] isn't out of the question. I'll talk to [the owners] and go from there. He can run three or four times [as a 2-year-old]."

 

3:45 pm: A lot of commenter questions asking my opinion of the bizarre Travers buzzer story. Here it is: You have to let the investigation run its course but my gut reaction is that it's preposterous.

4:45 pm: Silver Max seems to have recaptured the form that won him five straight stakes races last year as a 3-year-old, as he led from start to finish to wire the G2 Baruch. The 4-year-old Badge of Silver colt set fractions of 23.99, 47.34, 1:11.12 and 1:35.79 and stopped the timer in 1:42.79 for 8.5f, suggesting the course might be good rather than yielding.

Here's the late pick-4 play:

 

5:20 pm: Strapping Groom, claimed four starts back for $35k, went to the front and kept on going to win the G1 Forego. He is trained by David Jacobson and owned by Jacobson and Drawing Away stable, the same connections that lost Saginaw yesterday. Strapping Groom went head-and-headwith Fast Bullet for the first quarter, then pulled away by himself. The only late challenge came from Jackson Bend, who came through ath inside late but could not catch the winner.

5:50 pm: You don't need to say it: My opinion could not be worse today. Alpha wired the Whitney as Paynter showed no speed and failed to fire and Flat Out had every chance to get by the winner but could not. Alpha, last year's Jim Dandy and Travers(dead-heat) winner, ran the 9f in 1:49.28.

6:30 pm: Romancing the Gold wired the off-the-turf 11th, third straight gate-to-wire victory after closers were thriving earlier in the day. Who knows about the times any more: First quarter was posted in 22.68, changed during race to 24.98,and final time of 1:53.86 -- four and a half full seconds slower than Whitney -- seems implausibly slow.

No live tickets in the pick-6 thanks to the Grade 1 upsets, so there's a $139, 854 carryover to Sunday. The pick-4's are paying $6k and up: