07/23/2014 11:05AM

Saratoga Day 5: 7/23/2014



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.