07/25/2012 11:36AM

Saratoga Day 5: 7/25/12



12:35 pm: An interesting G2 Lake George, the returns of John Velazquez and Ruler on Ice, and a $54k pick-6 carryover are the highlights of the Wednesday card that starts Week 2 of Saratoga.

The Lake George drew a strong field of eight 3-year-old filly turfers where you can make a case for at least five of them: Samitar, winner of this year's Irish 1,000 Guineas; Stephanie's Kitten, winner of last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Fillies; Centre Court, the improving winner of the G3 Regret last time out; Medolina, unbeaten in three starts by large margins; and Somali Lemonade, who sparkled last year but has disappointed behind slow paces in her two starts this year.

Velazquez returns with his first two rides since sustaining a broken collarbone and a lacerated kidney in a spill at Churchill Downs June 16. He rides Stephanie's Kitten in the Lake George and in the 5th race he rides the 2-year-old filly Lucky Friend, a disappointing odds-on 5th in her debut last month. Velazquez plans to ease back into riding with two or three mounts a day before returning to full dance cards later in the meet. The 5th -- Lucky Friend versus nine first-time starters -- begins the pick-6 with that $54,235 one-day carryover.

Ruler on Ice, the 2011 Belmont winner, makes his first start since March in the 8th race, a tough N3x allowance with a $95,000 purse. He's the 8-5 ML favorite but trainer Kelly Breen warns "I don't think he's 100 percent fit. We're looking to take baby steps to get back into the big races."


12:55 pm: Tom Durkin just announced what he called "a small parimutuel problem." Seems that some betting outlets had incorrectly posted that both the #1 Rough Winter and the #1a Paws Up had been scratched when in fact Paws Up is still running. Because of the confusion, Paws Up will now run for purse money only and all wagers involving the #1-entry have been refunded.


1:05 pm: Don't complain if you bet Paws Up: He ran dead last in the 1st but you get a refund.

I do not think Paws Up was named for Junior (right), but he could have been. As you can see, the greyhounds a few of you have asked about are doing just fine here downstate, resting up for their Saratoga visit in a couple of weeks.

The opener went to Mess in a Dress ($14.40), who came flying under Ariel Smith to catch the badly-tiring leader Catalonia at the wire. Winner was claimed May 25 by Charlie Baker from David Jacobson, freshened up since.


1:45 pm: Opener went to horse claimed from Jacobson last time, 2nd went to horse claimed by Jacobson last time out. He and Winning Move Stable collared Hillswick for $50k from Rudy Rodriguez back on June 6, knowing that Hillswick had started for $25k 17 starts ago and thus was eligible for $25k starter handicaps like the 2nd race -- Jacobson trained him back then.


3:20 pm: Teen Pauline ($6.80), most heavily best of the firsters lined up against 8-5 Lucky Friend, set a track record of 56.53 for five furlongs winning her debut in the 5th. She scored by 4 3/4 lengths over My Happy Face and it was more than 10 lengths back to the rest.

Teen Pauline. a Stonestreet homebred by Tapit from a Carson City mare, lowered the mark set last year by J. C.'s Pride by 0.01 seconds.

Stonestreet also owns Kauai Kate, the 2-year-old filly who made a smashing debut last Friday, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. Kauai Kate is trained by Todd Pletcher, Teen Pauline by Steve Asmussen.

Didn't play the pick-6, which began with the 5th, but good for NYRA for carding this firster-fest as the opening leg of the bet instead of burying it deeper in the sequence. Bettors got a chance to see the obvious betting action on Teen Pauline.

Velazquez looked fine in his return on Lucky Friend, who was third or fourth and close to the leaders early but had no kick when they turned for home and settled for a distant 4th.


3:52 pm: Hobbs ($13.00), claimed from his last for $65k by Repole/Pletcher from Clement, led all the way to win the 6th at a mile on the grass. (Snug fit for conditions -- race was open only to horses who had started for a claiming price of $65k or less.) Five-way photo for second behind him showed 5-2 fave Kitten's Kid second, Key to Power third, and a dead-heat for fourth between Magical Season and Gaelico.


4:30 pm: Redemption Road ($8.50), one-time $150k yearling and a Triple Crown nominee, dropped from maiden-special to maiden-$20k to win in his fifth try. RR completed a $340.50 pick-3 comprising first half of pick-6. Double-carry unlikely but still possible after 2-1, 5-1 and 3-1 winners.


5:05 pm: Ruler on Ice last with no trouble in his return as Cease ($5.60) rallied widest to run down 10-1 Golden Gulch and 5-2 Schoolyard Dreams to win the 8th. Cease, a close third in the Hawthorne Gold Cup and the leader at the head of the stretch in the BC Marathon before fading to 5th, won the $150k Maxim Gold Cup at Sam Houston earlier this year. 5-year-old gelding is better on dirt, where he's now 4 for 7, than on synth and grass, where he's 0 for 5. Hails from same Dilschneider/Claiborne/Stall connections as Blame.


5:50 pm: Centre Court ($7.50) won the G2 Lake George for her third straight grass victory in a finish where a blanket would have almost covered the first six under the wire. The 4-year-old G. Watts Humphrey homebred outfinished 14-1 G2 Sands Point winner Better Lucky, 5-2 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Samitar and 2-1 G2 JCJF Turf winner Stephanie's Kitten for trainer Rusty Arnold. Juklien Leparoux rode the winner and did a nice job of slipping her through on the turn and finding a seam in the stretch.

Six of the eight in the finale are covered in the pick-6. Your willpays:

Very weird that #2 The Vin Man is one of the two uncovered horses since he's currently 4-1 on the board, albeit down from a 12-1 ML. If either he or #5 Kutais ends up in the winner's circle, there will be a $229,066 carryover to tomorrow.


6:10 pm: Fisherman's Wharf, first-rime Rudy Rodriguez, finished best under Dominguz to win the nightcap at 3-1, completing a $564.00 pick-4 (yes, it went up a dollar from the willpays because the winner was not the post-tim favorite and thus did not pick up scratched horses) and $25.536 pick-6. Racing resumes tomorrow with the first steeplechase of the meeting at 1 pm and the first flat race at 1:35. The feature, carded as the 8th of 10, is the $100k Quick Call for 3-year-old turf sprinters with Manly th 3-1 ML favorite, Full at 7-2 and Gentlemans Code 4-1.