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Saratoga Day 40: September 2, 2013
By Steven Crist
11:45 am: Into a each meet a little rain must fall, and Saratoga closes today with plenty. Day 40 shapes up as a sloppy scratchfest, with all six turf races rained onto the sloppy main track.
The four scheduled turf sprints will be run at their original 5 1/2-furlong distance; the 2nd race has been changed from 8.5 to 9 furlongs; and the Glens Falls Handicap will be shortened from 11 to 9 furlongs. There are 54 scratches thusfar.
There's a mandatory payout in the pick-6 today whether or not anyone goes 6 of 6. With a 12:30 first post and a 10-race card, the sequence begins with the 5th race at 2:38 pm. Despiteall the scratches and surface changes, the surviving fields are surprisingly thick: 8x7x8x7x10x8 at this writing.
No scratches so far in the G1 Hopeful, which goes as the 9th of 10 races. All entrants will be racing on a sloppy track for the first time.
12:35 pm: Tina's Note, 1 for 27 and seemingly averse to slop, shot to the lead and held off 8-5 Inaflash to win the opener at 38-to-1. First winner at the meet for jockey Phil Teator.
1:10 pm: Early leader Sea to Sky looked like another front-running winner, but 9-5 Ultimate Empire came off the rail from third and ran him down, though Sea to Sky held second over 6-5 fave Groomedforvictory.
Here's how that pick-6 lineup looks after scratches:
1:45 pm: Track upgraded to "muddy" for 3rd, where Western Grit rallied wide from last to nail early dueler Poppa Loves Mambo. New gelding Mr. Rodriguez went evenly for third in first start since November to complete the old 13-14-15 trifecta.
2:15 pm: Favorites Foggy Road ($6.30) and My Red Cat(7-5) both rallied from midpack to finish well ahead of the rest in the 4th.
Here's the closing-day pick-6 play, where the mandatory payout makes me play somewhat differently from a normal day. As you can see below,it's an unusually "A/B"-light and "C"-heavy play. The theory (which has worked out well in prior years) is that since there's a decent possibility of 5-of-6 being enough for the major share of the pool, you want to increase your chances of having four A's and a C. The scenario you're trying to duck is having four reasonable results and two really marginal C's and not having either of them on any ticket.
2:45 pm: Double-dead heat in the 5th, neither involving the two favorites. It was #4 Indian Splendor (10-1) and #12 Bobby Jo(5-1) dead-heating for the win, and less than a length back to #10 Original Kitten (13-1) and #14 Bird House (5-1) in a dead-heat for third.
So there are two win prices, four show prices, two exactas, four trifectas, four superfectas, two doubles, two pick-3's and....only one pick-4, because no one's ever gotten around to fixing the dopey rule under which pick-4s and pick-6's -- unlike every single other bet -- pay the same in the case of a dead-heat rather than splitting the pool between ticketholders on both winning combinations. This came upprominently after last year's Travers dead-heat but nothing was done about it.
3:20 pm: Four on the day for leading rider Castellano as second-timer Tiznowforamerica ($4.80) broke sharply and led all the way, holding off a late run from 9-5 Pletcher firster Harpoon.
In the upcoming 7th, Pletcher second-timer Sound of Freedom, second in the race where Tiznowforamerica was third in his debut, has opened 2-to-5.
3:55 pm: Sound of Freedom ($3.10) a comfortable winner in 1:10.48 afteramild opening half in 46.48. Endowment Manager second best but worth following -- fell back before rallying, moved to inside late, clearly best of rest.
4:20 pm: Phew. Lady Cohiba was very good wiring the off-the-turf Glens Falls by half a length, fighting off constant pressure from Greed and Fear early and turning back White Rose late. The 4-year-old Broken Vow filly, owned by Live Oak and trained by Clement, ran the 9f in 1:50.26.
We're going to have at least 5 of 6 today, which was the goal, though there are many, many live tickets. As the saying goes, better a short price than a long face. The live tickets for 6 of 6 are All/6,9 and 6,7,9/12,13,16. Also, 6,7,9/6,9 would have it twice (AAAAAA and CAAAAA) thanks to the dead-heat in the first leg.
5:00 pm: Strong Mandate ($16.60)ran away with the Hopeful in a powerhouse performance, collaring Corfu on the turn and drawing off by himself, with 30-1 Casiguapo up for a distant second and Lunarwarfare third. The Tiznow colt, owned by Baker & Mack and trained by D. Wayne Lukas (on his 78th birthday),ran the 7f in 1:23.55.
The 5A start leaves me alive to 5 of the 8 in the finale (6-$1427 twice ,9-$909 twice,12-$5046,13-$10146,16-$7992.) Win, lose or draw, thank you all not only for your kind farewell comments today but for all your contributions during the meet. I hope you had as much fun as I did.
Thank you Mr. Blog for sharing all your insights and humor over the 40 days of the best meet there is. I'm always a little sad to see it end but I take heart that you'll back for the two big Saturdays at Belmont. All the best to you.
Steve, Great job once again. Enjoyed the reporting immensely-not just the racing analyses and comments, but the commentary on the culinary and social scene. Didn't hear as much about the hounds this year-hope the pooches are in fine fettle.
Steve thanks for the great insight that you give day in and day out not just for Saratoga, but for horse racing year round...I have just concluded my 40th racing season at the Spa and this will rank as the best year I have had here...Your clear concise reasoning is a breath of fresh Saratoga air....god willing, we will all be back for another wonderful season at the spa....on another note on what I would like to see here next year is at one or two nights of actual night racing...they should be able to put up some temporary lighting and start at 6 like most other tracks...I know the business people in Saratoga might gripe about it at first, but I think it would be a boost to the entire area....on one of the nights, maybe a well known band would work too...again thanks for all the time and effort you put in up here.....
steve, i think this year's blog was the best yet. certainly more humor. i'll bet there are 100 who read it for every one who comments. a really great job. have you thought about a career in journalism?
Steve, thank for another entertaining and educational Saratoga experience. Count me among the many racing fans who thoroughly enjoyed your blog as well as your unselfish efforts to make this game more fun for everyone. Sharing is indeed the most genuine form of caring, and you have personified this once again. √ Here's a great idea: DRF should have a drawing where one lucky winner gets to spend a day at the track with you. Now that, would be cool! Thanks again! Troy_the_Jayhawk
Steve: Enjoyed blog greatly. Kudos to you for Travers analysis!
Congrats on your Pick 6 win. Do you know if NYRA will be ready with the low takeout Pick 5 when Belmont opens? I hope its on the last 5 races.
Thank you very much for being part of the fabric of the Saratoga experience. You not only provide us with honest opinions, insights and food reviews, but a place to offer our own opinions and a place to vent when these aren't going according to Hoyle. I found this Saratoga meeting somewhat frustrating for a number of reasons. First, some of the winners were simply unfathomable. Second, the racing secretary writing all of these multi-conditioned races leave us oldtimers baffled. I really wish the DRF would include the purse of the race next to the conditions in each horses past performances - as Bris net does on their downscale "program." Again, the New York gate crew, who must be political appointees are abysmal and detract from the quality of the product. And one more consiracy notation - Why a dead heat for win in the 5th race - the #12 Bobby Jo got a perfect head bob to win the race. Thanks for all you do for racing. Already looking forward to next year and another summer at the Spa!
Steve: I could not make it Saratoga this year and your blog just gives me a wonderful window into The Spa and other sights in Sar Springs. Next year I will be there for sure. Thanks and good luck in the Fall at Belmont! Cheers, JMc.
Never quite got the rationale for taking races off the grass on closing day. Obviously, they have 11 months to get the courses back in shape again. Are the horses going to tear it up that much that the track workers won't be able to sort it out by NEXT July? At least they might leave the Stakes race on.