07/23/2014 12:05PM

Saratoga Day 5: 7/23/2014

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12:00 pm: Wake up! Wake up! You're going to miss the first steeplechase of the meeting, which goes at 12:25 today, 35 minutes earlier than the usual opener. (Same deal tomorrow, and most Wednesdays and Thursdays at the meet.)

Once we settle down for an afternoon of otherwise flat racing, the question in these quarters is whether or not to take a little whack at the pick-6, which has a little $27k carryover from Monday. The sequence begins with two statebred filly races, each sporting a heavy favorite (Girlaboutown at 8-5, and probably lower, in the 5th and the Artemis Agrotera entry in the 6th.)

So one way to go, if you think the two faves look cinchy, is to single them both and play the pick-6 as a pick-4. Here's one way to think of it: If you made a $1,000 parlay of them, and both won and paid $3.60 and $2.40, you'd turn that $1,000 into $2,160. Think you can get the pick-6 to pay more than that? Willing to risk getting the two faves home and still get nothing if you miss one later?

One thing that should provide a last-minute clue on just how cinchy Girlaboutown may be in the 5th will come from a peek at the board before the pick-6 begins: Girlaboutown ran well enough in her debut to win at this level most of the time, and she holds a 10-to-15 point Beyer edge on those who have run. The question is whether a fast-working Steve Asmussen firster named Verismilitude [sic] might be something special herself. Moonlight Fantasy is another fast-working firster from trainer Mike Hushion, who also sends out Girlaboutown.

12:40 pm: Favored Rudyard K ($6.90) easily outran 5-2 second choice Selection Sunday to win the jumpy opener in 3:46.90. The winner, a 5-year-old Ohio-bred gelding by the Gulch stallion Kipling, was 1 for 10 on the flat at River Downs, Beulah, Kentucky downs and Thistledown before being switched to steeplechasing 15 months ago.

Reminder: On these steeplchase days, the pick-5 runs on races 2-6 instead of 1-5, and the early pick-4 is on races 3-6 instead of 2-5.

1:45 pm: Back-to-back Pletcher 3-to-5 shots in the 2nd and 3rd. In the 2nd, a 2-year-old filly maiden dash, $340k 2-year-old Repole purchase Overspending ran well but was caught late in 58.31 byEmpressive Humor, a Jerry Durant homebred by Distorted Humor, trained by Steve Asmussen.

In the 3rd, Pletcher sent out Got Lucky, runner-up in the G2 Demoiselle and G2 Gazelle, for her first start since a 7th in the Kentucky Oaks. She had to work hard between horses to get there but she did in 1:51.23, edging fast-closing Unbridled Explosion and then surviving a claim of foul from in-traffic Pretty Fancy.

2:15 pm: Pick-6 with tiny carryover starts in 23 minutes. Here's the plan:

The Asmussen firster in the 5th took steady money in the 4-5doubles and opened the 9-5 vs. 2-1 favorite, so I elevated her to a B.

2:50 pm: Late adjustment proved unnecessary as Girlaboutown led every step of the way to win at a fat $6.20, drawing off by about 8 lengths over 8-5 favorite Verismilitude. The runner-up chased Girlaboutown from the outset, made a run at her around the turn, but then couldn't keep up while proving second best.

Girlaboutown broke a longstanding "jinx" by becoming the first horse sired by A.P.Indy to win a race shorter than 6.5 furlongs at Saratoga. She went the 6f in 1:10.25.

3:10 pm: According to radar map posted over on DRF Live by Mike Watchmaker, storms could hit Saratoga in about an hour.

3:20 pm: Artemis Agrotera ($2.60), Grade 1 winner vs. statebred allowance foes, ran back to the form that won her the Frizette last fall with a lopsided rout in the 6th race. Her entrymate Spinit to Winit was the distant runner-up, with Irish Sweepstakes third (second for parimutuel purposes). Artemis Agrotera, who returned from a seven-month layoff against killer company in the G1 Acorn last time out, ran the 7f in a sharp 1:22.20 for owners Chester & Mary Broman and trainer Mike Hushion.

3:55 pm: Oof. Down to a 4x1x4 thread after Treaty Oak, public's third choice but just a C by me, finished strongly to win the 7th, a maiden-claimer for older turf fillies. The one to watch next time is One More Song, Clement firster who made a dramatic middle move and took the lead way too early, then tired late.

4:20 pm: Shankopotamus ($21.20), claimed by Englehart from Cannizzo last time out, fended off 18-1 Street Shark all the way around the track to win the 8th as none of the favorites lifted a hoof behind them. The race was run in a slow 1:24.57, 2.37 full seconds (about 14 lengths) slower than Artemis Agrotera needed to win the 6th.

I still think the single/single/spread strategy was a good one today, but you had to handicap those spread races better than I did to stay alive.  

4:30 pm: First rainstorm of the meeting just began.

5:00 pm: Rain over.  Daring Dancer ($8.30), who looked like she was going nowhere turning for home, cut the corner, came to life, and then ran down A Little Bit Sassy at the wire to win the G2 Lake George.

It was the 4th win in five career starts for Daring Dancer, a 3-year-old Epire Maker filly owned by Sagamore Farm and trained by Graham Motion.

Eight of the 12 in the finale -- all but the #4, #7, #10 and #11 -- are covered in the pick-6, at disgustingly huge numbers ranging from $17k to $122k:

5:25 pm: Hot Squeeze , narrowly favored over fellow 4-1 shots Saucon Valley and White Crane, dominated the finale from gate to wire to finish out a $24,915 pick-6. I am unconsoled by six rotten consos at $105.50 apiece.

First post 12:25 pm again tomorrow for the steeplechase, with nine on the flat to follow. It's the weakest card of the meet so far, and I've got some other fish to fry, so I'll be back here Friday.

Michael Cusortelli 7 months ago
Steve, I'm so glad you're healthy and back at it -- and just in time for the Saratoga meet. Your blog posts are like handicapping lessons, even for someone like me who's been at it for about 40 years.
Brian 7 months ago
Hope you don't tire of another well wisher enjoying another blog. Almost as much fun as having 7 of 10 live in a finale.
Dale Tillotson 7 months ago
Reports indicate that lightning took down another tree in the spa back yard shortly after the conclusion of racing and thankfully no injuries reported. Leads me to the following. Over the 24 years of Tom Durkin at the SPPPPPAAAAAA more trees have been eliminated than at any other time in history. Tree huggers will not be attending the Durkin retirement party to honor him.
hialeah 7 months ago
"Into each life some rain must fall" - Longfellow Good point, after all he also wrote: "One if by land, two if by sea." Big numbers guy that Longfellow.
LemonDropKid 7 months ago
The single/single strategy was excellent. You got through the 1st two legs with paper-thin coverage which is great. I thought the rest of the card was very difficult (at least to my eyes). Meanwhile #8 @ 7-2 looks decent in race #10.
Stephen Mercier 7 months ago
you had 3 single As ...and they all won! sheesh
Stephen Mercier 7 months ago
and down it goes for me like a house of cards in a hurricane...
T 7 months ago
...[It is] very obvious to me that with horse racing’s very high takeout rates, unpredictable nature (try handicapping some of the 2 year old maiden races) and the majority of handicappers looking at the same information to form their opinions, it is next to impossible to be a consistent winner at these games. I would bet there is less than 1% that can earn a living playing the horses. So for the industry to grow and sprout new handicappers the industry should be focusing on lowering takeouts and providing more friendly bets to the general public i.e. The smaller bank rolled players...99% of the horse players don’t have the bank roll to properly play a $2 Pick 6. A $50 investment in a $2 Pick 6 (25 combos) is just a way for small fishes to feed the big fishes or high bank rolled players. That is why I recently posted that we should have a 10-cent Pick 6 that the small bank rolled players can get involved with and have a little fun. Fun is what the game should be all about and a $50 10-cent Pick 6 (500 combos) which would be an equivalent to a $1,000 $2 Pick 6 would provide some fun and have a reasonable chance of winning... Also, can you imagine the anticipation and excitement there would be on the last day of Saratoga when a million dollar pool would have to be distributed!!!
Jack 7 months ago
Management has TURNED a "Thinking's Mans" game into a Four Legged Lottery, and they over the Years have LOST 75% of their customers. They just don't get it...
Stephen Mercier 7 months ago
it would almost never carry over
T 7 months ago
Here are the rules (similar to the Rainbow Pick 6 where only a sole winner wins the carryover pool (but with reasonable takeouts for the multiple winners)... 20% takeout. Seed carryover pool with $100,000. Carryover less than 500,000 = (% to winners / % to carryover) = 70 / 30. Carryover more than 500,000 and less than 1,000,000 = 95 / 5 which translates to a takeout of 24% which is the same as the current NYRA $2 pick-6 takeout on carryover days. Carryover more than 1,000,000 = 100 / 0. The carryover stops growing and the takeout drops to 20%. If no winners then 5 of 6 = (% to winners / % to carryover) = 50/50.
Walt Gekko 7 months ago
As said, I would do it for a 20-cent wager (due to restrictions in Canada) and make it as follows: $1 Million or less (start the carryover at $50,000 as Gulfstream does): 40% carried over if no single ticket 40% to 6-of-6 (or most winners) 20% to 5-of-6 (or second most winners, meaning there will be days where 4-of-6 and even 3-of-6 pay). More than $1 Million: 10% carried over if no single ticket 60% to 6-of-6 (or most winners) 30% to 5-of-6 (or second most winners). Simple enough.
David Schabell 7 months ago
A 10 cent Pick Six would virtually eliminate carryovers, and there would be no huge pots to be hit., it would become a mundane bet, much as the 10 cent superfecta has become. Before the 10 Cent super you could spread and often come up with an all in the fourth spot that would still pay hansomely. How often do you see supers paying with alls on the bottom anymore???? You don't. I might agree with a $1 Pick Six, and would be more apt to jump in the fray, if I felt good about a race or two, but refrain at the $2 knowing what I'm up against with the deep pocketed players out there.
Stephen Mercier 7 months ago
whew....
Bronko 7 months ago
I guesss the jinx is over