07/23/2012 11:09AM

Saratoga Day 4: 7/23/12



12:10 pm: The weather has been relentlessly perfect since Saratoga opened Friday but that could start to change this afternoon, with a possibility of isolated thunderstorms in the forecast starting at 2 pm. It shouldn't cause any off-the-turfing, though, since the card was set up with five grass races to start the day and five on the dirt to end it.

Some rain would actually be welcome in these parts, preferably on the dark day tomorrow, since the turf course seems to be getting harder and drier by the day.

Today's lone stakes, the Evan Shipman for older statebreds at 9f, is down to a field of five after the early scratches of Fiddlers Afleet and Mineswept. While Mineswept had only a dim chance of success here, his defection changes the complexion of the race because it appears to leave favorite Johannesburg Smile loose on the lead. He's a little shaky at the distance, though, and Lunar Victory could run him down late if he's ready for his best in his first start since March 3.


1:50 pm: Still sunny and dry, fast and firm, after a $174.00 1-1 double. In the opener, Decisive Moment ($10.40) beat 5-2 favorite Bravo Habibti for Tony Dutrow and Dominquez (that guy again), leading all the way in 21.62, 44.03, 55.74 and 1:01.91. In the second, 6-5 dropdown Carson Hall looked poised to draw away in midstretch but hung late and Veiled Prophet was up at the wire at 14-1. Winner was claimed last out, moving from Juan Ortiz to Dominic Galluscio, and was moving up from $20k to $35k. Glad I forgot to play the early pick-4.


2:15 pm: Lady Rizzi ($11.40), who ran down favored Eden is Burning to win the 3rd, is a horse for the course -- for those with with a long memory. The 9-year-old mare, who has spent her entire career with Linda Rice since making her racing debut in May of 2006, had won two of her previous three starts at Saratoga -- but those victories came all the way back on August 16, 2007 and August 24, 2008.


3:20 pm: 5th race was first juvenile turfer of the season after the 4th was won by one of last year's juvenile turf winners.

First, Tiz Sardonic Joe took the 4th, an open N1x turfer, for his second career victory -- his first came when he edged Dullahan (subsequent Breeders' Futurity/Blue Grass winner and Derby 3rd) here last Aug. 13th. In the 5th, for 2-year-old fillies, Clement firster Da Mi Basia Mille scored at 8-1. The Pure Prize filly's name comes from a Latin poem by Catullus and means "Give me a thousand kisses."

da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus...

Basically, he requests a thousand kisses, then another hundred, then another thousand etc. etc. What a Greedy Gus.

And not five minutes after the last turf race of the day, the rain is beginning. Loud and fierce. Weather forecasters, like handicappers, occasionally get it right.


3:40 pm: Rain's over, sun's back out. Track listed as fast for five upcoming dirt races -- three of them around two turns, only such dirt events at meet so far besides CCA Oaks.


5:00 pm: So if we'd had a triple carryover, would we now be looking at a quadruple carryover? The dirt portion of the card has been as unpredictable as the grass quintet, with eight losing favorites in eight races so far, no payoff under 4-1, and Grandpa Len just winning the 8th at $46.00.

Probably safe to say we're looking at a one-day carryover to Wednesday. 


5:45 pm: Lunar Victory ($4.40) was half past ready for his first start since March 3 and scored an impressive victory in the Shipman. Making up for the apparent lack of other early speed to challenge 8-5 second choice Johannesburg Smile, Junior Alvarado sent Lunar Victory right after him from the start, prompting unusually quick route fractions of 23.54, 46.85 and 1:10.24, 15 lengths ahead of the others, before taking over on the turn. Well in front after a mile in 1:35.15, Alvarado geared down the winner through a slow final furlong in 14.15 for a final time of 1:49.30, as Sailmate got up for second behind the tired Johannesburg Smile.

Lunar Victory, a rare New York-bred owned by Juddmonte Farms, began his career on the grass in England before moving to trainer Bill Mott and the Aqueduct winter track last December. The 5-year-old Speightstown horse has now won four straight dirt races. He appears to have the statebreds at his mercy and it will be interesting to see if he ventures into open company at some point.

As expected, no live tickets in the pick-6, so a little carryover to Wednesday, when racing resumes here:

I'm guessing that's one live conso to the #7 at $18k which would make the carryover three times as much at $54,234.

If you're thinking of coming up here for a long next weekend, remember that Friday's post time is 2:30 pm. I'm headed downstate tomorrow, will play and blog from Long Island Wednesday and Thursday and be back up here Friday in time for that late early double.