08/31/2013 11:42AM

Saratoga Day 38: August 31, 2013


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:


Thomas Mcdonough More than 1 year ago
Is the timer a problem? Andy Beyer wrote a column a year or so ago about the consistently inaccurate times at Tampa Bay. I hope Saratoga hasn't developed the same problem. Are the clockings corroborated or verified in some other way?
Kenny More than 1 year ago
So let me get this straight McGaughey runs State Flag 14 times on turf and once on synthetic in 2 years...NEVER tries him on dirt, wet or otherwise......then Maker/Ramsay gets him, he plods for 2 turf races in 2 months...then wins an allowance race on dirt.....I always knew Shug wasn't that good a trainer (dripping with sarcasm)
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Just wanted to mention to any here that can access Channel 13/WNET in New York to think about catching their "Treasures of New York" series tomorrow, 9/1, from 7 to 8 PM. The episode airing is "The Track at Saratoga". The program is almost always well done and is advertised as being an historical look at the track we all think so much of.
edb More than 1 year ago
Steve, Thanks for your coverage and insight for this meet. Enjoyed immensely. I'm not positive or negative on battery story, but what can you prove a week later? Seems it works to go to lead and hold on in many of the big races. Dude is looking like HOY.
Rick Harrington More than 1 year ago
Just a reminder for everyone: Monday's card starts at 12:30PM. Strange that it's only 10 races with last race ending around 5:20PM, after the last several years.
Joey W More than 1 year ago
Ouch! I should have played 7's and it's multiple's. Dang nabbit
Greg Scherr More than 1 year ago
I know it changes but being in So Calif. I need to ask what you think the track conditions will be both Sunday and if possible Monday? Thanks so much. As an aside, I firmly believe Paynter will only run 1-2 more times and won't win either. He's physically been thru too much, he missed the break by 1/2 a step, hardly enough to be an excuse for not being in the race much at all, not handling the track, as a long-time owner we all know that's CYA speak.
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Steve, Came in late and just seen the news about the buzzer accusations about the Travers. I also at first thought that's ridiculous but as I do recall my observation at live watching was WOW how about WTC knowing where the wire is " Then 10 yds after MORENO was back in front. That's my version no didn't see anything in hand or moved under saddle after the race and I know MORENO connections E. guillet were devastated as anyone that close to a Huge win. Until investigation is complete I still agree with you and belief its sour grapes
gabriel candelaria More than 1 year ago
Steve---Kinda late comment on ur WIN-PK 4 score Thurs (Hunter Forward @35-1)........I realize 20-20 hindsight, but did u consider spreading the addtl $2200 in the following manner----$200 win on the 7 horses for coverage and than maybe $100 EX ALL with #4 Brandys Secret---the probable winner? That could have been a nice return. Congrats!!
Philip Conforti More than 1 year ago
Just watch replay on my dvr not conclusive but it sure looks like something getting moved hand to hand ! They need that super slo mo and zoom technology I sure hope not think Saez is a up and comer.
jimf552 More than 1 year ago
Agree, reminiscent of Santos on Funnycide in the Derby.