09/03/2012 12:02PM

Saratoga Day 40: 9/3/12


12:01 pm: 406 races down, 11 to go. Early first post of 12:30 pm for Day 40 of 40, an 11-race card headlined by the G2 (boo) Hopeful, the G3 Glens Falls, and a mandatory pick-6 payout on Closing Day at the Spa.

You can scratch Royal Art from the Hopeful and the two main-track-onlies, Acting Happy and Cash for Clunkers, from the Glens Falls. Here's the pick-6 lineup with scratches as of noon. The sequence is scheduled to begin with the 6th at 3:11 pm:

This is the 108th running of the Hopeful, which was inexplicably downgraded from a G1 to a G2 in January, a move that prompted puzzled outrage from New York racing officials even before I'll Have Another, Currency Swap and Trinniberg all emerged from last year's running to win graded stakes this year. The move leaves the Champagne next month as the only Grade 1 race in New York for 2-year-old males.


12:45 pm: Dominguez won yesterday's 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th, did not ride in the 10th and 11th, and picked right up winning today's 1st aboard Chad Brown firster Noble Tune ($7.30), a 4-length winner in 1:43.08. Dominguez kept the Unbridled's Song-Serena's Cat Dell Ridge Farm homebred inside around the turn as the leaders spun wide, and shot through a huge path to an easy victory.


1:00 pm: William Hill, the UK bookmaker, for some reason sent out press releases with early betting lines for two Breeders' Cup races this morning:

Breeders’ Cup Classic: 7-1 Game On Dude, 8-1 Camelot, Fort Larned, Ron The Greek, 10-1 Dullahan, Wise Dan, 12-1 Mucho Macho Man, 16-1 Alpha, Imperial Monarch, To Honor And Serve, 20-1 Alternation, Richards Kid, 25-1 Flat Out, Golden Ticket, 33-1 Nates Mineshaft (EW 1/5 1,2,3)

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf: 5-2 Snow Fairy, 3-1 The Fugue, 8-1 Winter Memories, 10-1 I'm A Dreamer, Marketing Mix, Maybe, Zagora, 12-1 Lady Of Shamrock, 14-1 Quiet Oasis, 25-1 Tapitsfly (EW 1/5 1,2,3)

That 8-1 on Winter Memories seems a little stingy considering she was retired last month with a bone bruise.


2:15 pm: Here are the early pick-4 willpays following victories by Flamin' Hot ($12.60), West Hills Giant ($12.40) and Coosada ($5.80) in races 2-3-4, a $350.40 pick-3:

I'll be keeping an eye on the DD probables in races 5 and 6 since the 6th race starts the pick-6 and 6 of the 7 entrants are first-time starters.


2:50 pm: We Need VLT's ($13.60) came back at the rail after being passed by 15-1 Aba Dabbler to win the 5th for owner-trainer Linda Rice and complete a $1,757 early pick-4.

Here are the double and pick-3 willpays into the first leg of the pick-6:

In both pools, Pletcher firster Revolutionary (3-5 first flash in win pool) is narrowly favored over Asmussen third-timer Stage Street with Schettino firster Always in a Tiz the clear third choice.

My thoughts on the sequence:

In general I play C-heavy tickets in these must-payout situations, since 4 A’s and one goofy C might be good enough for a share of the front end of the pool.

Race 6: An Asmussen third timer with speed from the rail versus six firsters, including a Pletcher, a Brown, a Violette and a Schettino with Ramon named. Using the Asmussen and the two firsters taking the most action (currently Pletcher and Schettino) as A’s, the next two firsters from the group above as B’s, and the remaining two as C’s.

Race 7: A complete standalone because of the closing-day/mandatory situation. If Welcome Guest is healed and ready she’s supposed to win, and if she’s not I could honestly make a case for all nine of her opponents. My thinking is that if it’s not the favorite, it could be a 30-1 shot that hardly anyone uses, so rather than spend my money here on C’s that would cost $144 apiece in a race with a single, I won’t back up here.

Race 8: Hit It Rich and Kissable are standouts, and I prefer the former because she’s proven on today’s hard, firm turf. So one A, one B and one C.

Race 9: Waffled a lot here but I prefer Pletcher’s top-fig entrants Shanghai Bobby and Overanalyzed, and I get the not-farfetched Lawn Man as part of an entry, so those are my A’s, with 6f debut winner Fortify a B and the rest as C’s. I may be selling Bern Identity short .

Race 10: With a ticket-high 4 A’s, I’m just looking to get through this with the likeliest winners; hoping there’s as much speed as it appears on paper to keep some competitive front-runners out of the winner’s circle.

Race 11: A horrorshow of a maiden-claimer, with the favorites scratched this morning and an iffy group remaining. Sure would be sweet to stay on the A train until here and get alive to 7 of them, but the gun-to-my-head preferences are Golden Tornado, Soup A’ Fleet and Griffin Rock.


3:00 pm: The discourse above translates to the following play:

All A's and B's = $960

CAAAAA = $96

AACAAA = $144

AAACAA = $216

AAAACA = $108

AAAAAC = $192

Total = $1716


3:15 pm: Always in a Tiz ($11.20) put away early leader Stage Street and held off Clawback and a very troubled Revolutionary to win the 6th, first leg of the pick-6.

The race was a good illustration of why it's helpful to begin pick-4's and pick-6's with these firsterfests. The action on Always in a Tiz -- 9/2 on a Schettino firster as opposed to 9-1 on a Chad Brown firster and 10-1 on a Rick Violette firster -- definitely made me make him an A instead of a B.

Revolutionary, however, probably would have won the race with a better start. Stage Street took a right out of the gate, bothering Clawback slight and completely shutting off Revolutionary, who dropped back to last and made a sensational late run to be a close third.

Take nothing away, though, from Always in a Tiz -- a son of Tiznow who can contest fractions of 21.80 and 44.68 and win his debut at 5.5f has a very promising future.


3:50 pm: 4-5 Welcome Guest had a perfect break and position and had absolutely nothing, finishing a bad 5th behind 7-1 shots Sly Warrior ($16.40) and Media Starlett. Hoping that 5 of 6 proves good enough.


4:25 pm: Hit it Rich ($3.70) a gate-to-wire winner of the G3 Glens Falls, with Bizzy Caroline and Kissabl;e 2-3 behind her all the way around. Hit it Rich, a 5-year-old Janney homebred by Smart Strike, ran even fractions of 24.37, 48.19, 1:13.13, 1:36.82 and 2:00.10 en route to a final time of, well, I'm not sure because NYRA still hasn't posted one. The mutuel slate says the final time was 1:16.18 but that was the final time of the 7th race.


4:34 pm: It was 2:12.34.

Fortify, third choice in the pick-3, is even-money for the Hopeful with 17 MTP.


5:05 pm: Shanghai Bobby ($6.30) much the best winning the Hopeful by 3 3/4 lengths from surprising favorite 8-5 Fortify, with Sanford winner Bern Identity third and Overanalyze fourth.

Shanghai Bobby is now 3 for 3 with a victory at each NYRA track after winning his debut at Aqueduct back on April 19 and then the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont June 27 with a 93 Beyer that was 8 points higher than anyone in the Hopeful field had run. He was scratched from the Saratoga Special Aug. 13 when he spiked a fever the day before the race.

The Harlan's Holiday colt, a $105k September yearling purchase by Starlight Racing, is trained by Todd Pletcher. He is the first foal to race for his dame Steelin', a daughter of Orientate.

Majestic Hussar shot to the lead in 22.55, chased by Overanalyze from the outside and Fortify at the inside. Shanghai Bobby, fourth on the outside, overtook Majestic Hussar and Overanalyze around the turn to open a four-length lead in 1:09.54, and no one was seriously gaining through a final furlong in 13.18 under Rosie Napravnik, who has ridden him in all three starts.


5:40 pm: 5-2 co-favorites Burn the Mortgage ($7.60) and Un bridled Fire down to the wire and finished in that order in the penultimate race of Saratoga 2012.

Ten maiden claimers at 9f to finish off the meet, the pick-4 and the pick-6; eight of them opened up at between 9-2 and 8-1. Looks like everyone's covered for 6-of-6 in the pick-6, alas; better luck next year.


6:10 pm: Golden Tornado last to first for Rice/Rosie to complete a $477 pick-4 and a $26,907 pick-6. Five A's and a whiff got me one stinkin' conso worth $292.50.

Thanks to all of you for reading and hanging out here during the meet whether we were launching parimutuel salvoes or just recalling Rheingold beer jingles from the 1960's. All good fun, as racing should always be.

And it's fewer than 115 hours till 12:50 pm first post at Belmont on Saturday, Opening Day of the Fall Championship Meeting.