08/31/2014 11:30AM

Saratoga Day 39: 8/31/2014


12:30 pm: Day 39, the penultimate card of Saratoga 2014, features the G1 Spinaway, the G3 Glens Falls, and the largest pick-6 carryover of the meeting.

"Foreboding clouds above," said Tom Durkin, who will be calling the last race of his distinguished career in the Spinaway. So far, there's no reason to think the grass races will be washed to the main track, though as of 12:30 NYRA had not scratched all the main-track-onlies on the card. The initial forecast of "heavy thunderstorms" has been scaled down to "scattered thunderstorms," and it's not as if there's a lot of grass racing left before July of 2015.

The Spinaway lost a major player when Curalina was scratched just before noon. She had earned the field's top Beyer Speed Figure running second in her debut. Angela Renee, the Adirondack runner-up, is the likely favorite.

The $151,766 carryover is not easy. NYRA, in an apparent attempt to get a triple carryover into Closing Day tomorrow, arranged the card so that it concludes with a full field of 12 New York-bred 2-year-old maidens, five of them first-time starters. Fortunately (or not) there is a third-time starter, Persuasive Devil, who ran well enough last time to win the vast majority of these statebred juvenile heats, and did it on a wet track, which we might have by the 7:08 pm scheduled post time.

2:00 pm: A light sprinkle before the first is about all the rain Saratoga appears to have gotten so far.

A $28.20 double as Flamingo Road ($4.00) took the first and E Z Passer won his third straight claimer in the 2nd.

Here's the pick-6 lineup with all scratches as of 2 p.m. It's getting weird that some main-trackers and also-eligibles have yet to be scratched from the 8th race:


2:15 pm: Two scratches from the G3 Glens Falls just announced: #1 Lady Cohiba (main track only) and #5 Baffle Me.

3:15 pm: Looks like we're staying on the grass: They just scratched the remaining MTO's from the 8th. And the early fractions in the turf-sprint 5th were 21.39 and 43.88, so it's still firmer than firm.

Early stakes Beyers from yesterday: Woodward (Itsmyluckyday) - 108; Prioress (Stonetastic) - 108; Baruch (Wise Dan) - 104; Forego (Palace) - 101.

Here's the pick-6 play, subject to change if the board lights up for another firster in the 7th, but the 6-7 double betting suggests that Chad Brown firster Lady Serena is by far the most highly-regarded, and the only one perceived as a serious threat to favored Pletcher second-timer Feathered.

3:50 pm: Six down, pick-six to go. Wager with $151k carryover begins in about 20 minutes. Feathered has opened 4-5 with Lady Serena 4-1 and the rest in double digits.

Irish Mission ($8.50) snapped a two-year 0-for-11 skein in stakes races by winning the G3 Glens Falls in race 6. The 5-year-old Giant's Causeway mare, owned by Robert S. Evans and trained by Christophe Clement, beat males in the 2012 Breeders' Stakes, third leg of the Canadian-bred Triple Crown. Most recently she was second to Charming Kitten in the Belmont Gold Cup and second to Starstruck in the G3 Matchmaker.

Irish Mission ran the 11 furlongs on the grass in 2:15.01. Viva Rafaela, who led most of the way, settled for second with Caroline Thomas third.

4:20 pm: Feathered ($3.80) kicked off the pick-6 with a stress-free performance for those who singled her, leading at every call and drawing off to win by 9 3/4 lengths. Firsters Etiquette at 8-1 and Fair Point at 26-1 were the distant 2nd and 3rd, with Chad Brown firster Lady Serena -- hammered late to 2-1 --  a highly unthreatening fourth.

Feathered was a year and a half the best but she certainly was helped by being able to get away with very mild fractiopns on the lead, a quarter in 24.12 and a half in 48.35 en route to 7f in 1:24.24. Of course if someone had gone 22 and 45 in front of her and then stopped, we'd be saying what a great "closer" she was for rallying from 10-15 lengths out of it. 

4:48 pm: Rank outsider 58-1 Coordinate outfinished 2-1 favorite Alexahente but properly did not survive a stewards' inquiry and a claim of foul and the order of finish was reversed. Coordinate clearly veered in and forced Alexahente to be taken up in deep stretch.

Coordinate, a Darley homebred by Hard Spun who was trounced in two dirt sprints at 49-1 and 46-1, went right to the front and forgot to stop. Alexahente, an Eddie Kenneally second-timer, was gaining at the rail when Coordinate came over and cost him all momentum.

Durkin picked up on it right away as they crossed the finish line: "Coordinate is the winner -- well, at least under the wire first."

5:05 pm: How, you may wonder, is Mar de Mares eligible to run in the upcoming 9th race, a N1x allowance, given that the colt has already won four of his five starts? 

The answer is in the fine print of the conditions: "Which have never won $10,000 other than maiden, claiming or starter." It's the $10k part that gets him off the hook: His four victories came at the hippodrome in Mexico City, in races worth $2400, $2700, $9800 and $3000.

5:15 pm: The rain looks like it's coming down pretty steadily now. Track was just downgraded from fast to "good."

5:30 pm: Mr. O'Leary ($10.20)splashed to an early lead, turned back the challengers on the turn, and then just held off a surging 7-1 Chapman by a head to win the 9th. Mar de Mares was third and John's Island was 6th as the 5-2 favorite.

Angela Renee opened the 7-5 favorite for the Spinaway. In doubles and pick-3's Condo Commando is the second betting choice and Winter Dawn is the third choice. Winter Dawn's stock probably moved up after Feathered, second to her in her debut, was a runaway winner of the 7th.

Track now further downgraded to "sloppy." It's dark and stormy.

6:00 pm: The final words of Tom Durkin's final call: "Condo Commando was splash-tastic. By the Moon second, and Angela Renee third."

Splash-tastic indeed. The Tiz Wonderful filly, a 12-length winner of her debut here Aug. 3, won the G1 Spinaway by what looked like a similar margin [update: 13 1/4 lengths] despite a poor start. She recovered, moved up and squeezed through at the rail, and widened her advantage at every call as the 3-1 second choice. Her final time was 1:24.68 for seven furlongs. By the Moon was a distant 2nd with 8-5 Angela Renee farther back in third.

Condo Commando is owned by Michael Dubb and partners and trained by Rudy Rodriguez.

FLASH: It was just announced that the 11th race, penultimate leg of the pick-6, has been taken off the turf and will be run at a mile and an eighth on the main track. No announcement of pick-6 implications has been made, but I'm pretty sure that the race becomes an "all" in the pick-4 and pick-6.

6:10 pm: Madris and Barnard's Galaxy have scratched from the upcoming 11th, now scheduled to be run at 6:38 pm. Still no announcement regarding fate of doubles, pick-3's, pick-4's and pick-6's after surface switch of race 11.

6:15 pm: #1 Lay It Down and #6 Cheyenne Nation, ML second favorite on grass, now additional scratches from upcoming 11th, now down to a field of 7.

6:26 pm: With 11 MTP, finally announed that race 11 is an all for pick-4, pick-6 and Grand Slam puirposes. I have no idea what happens in the pick-3, where the posted willpays look completely goofy:

6:50 pm: Hard Enough ($6.40), who would have been favored on grass, was an easy winner in the slop. This doesn't matter for p4/p6 purposes as every horse you used is considered a winner. With that in mind, the following posted pick-4/pick-6 willpays aren't so bad, considering that most people would have it more than once (I think I'm alive seven times to #5):

7:20 pm: Saratoga Heater, blinkers on for Stall in 2nd start, rallied to run down Pierce's Prize and win the finale, completing a $7,447 pick-6 and $622 pick-4. Remember, you have those once for EACH horse you used in the 11th race with all the other winners, which is how I ended up with the pick-6 twice.

Post time for Closing Day is 1 pm and it's a sensible 10-race card for a change. The featured Hopeful is being run as the 4th, and there's a mandatory Pick-6 payout whether or not anyone goes 6 for 6.

Phew. Make mine a double.