09/02/2013 10:43AM

Saratoga Day 40: September 2, 2013


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.