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Saratoga Day 6: 7/26/12
By Steven Crist
12:25 pm: Post times are being accelerated Thursday at Saratoga in an attempt to squeeze in a 10-race card with six grass races before predicted thunderstorms hit later today.
Races will go off 28 rather than 33 minutes apart and the last race will now be run 45 minutes earlier than originally scheduled, at 5:19 instead of 6:04. Here's the new lineup:
The card starts at 1 pm with the first steeplechase of the meeting, the Jonathan Kiser Novice, a restrcted stakes that is basically an N3x allowance also open to anyone who had not won over fences before March 10, 2011.
1:55 pm: A $378.50 early double as a pair of 15-1 shots triumphed in the first two races on the Thursday card and St. John's RIver was soundly beaten at 2-to-5.
In the opener, Demonstrative ($32.20) collared leader Baltic Star over the last fence and pulled away over Wanganui with Baltic Star holding third. The 5-year-old ELusive Quality gelding, 1 for 11 on the flat in England, has now won 5 of 14 steeplechase tries over here.
In the 2nd, St. John's River -- the 2011 Delaware Oaks winner and Kentucky Oaks runner-up -- opened at 1-9 and went off at 2-5 in an N2x allowance she appeared to have at her mercy if she showed her top form. She didn't. She was bottled up a bit leaving the backstretch and on the turn, but found a wide seam to run through in upper stretch and then was simply outrun. Phipps/McGaughey Sea Island ($33.60), half-sister to Sightseeing, really took to two turns and rallied to win by 3 1/2 lengths as the favorite barely held second.
Maybe SJR doesn't like Saratoga -- she ran a distant 5th in the Alabama last year. In any case, today's performance doesn't bode well for her planned return in the Personal Ensign against Royal Delta.
2:25 pm: Main-track-only scratches just announced in later races, so it looks like there's growing confidence that they'll get the card in on the turf before any storms.
2:45 pm: As you might expect with a $33.60 winner in Leg 1 and a $50.00 winner in leg #3, the early pick-4 payoffs are all in five digits, ranging from $12k to $71k for $2:
The $50 winner was The Party's Here, a second-time starter from owner-trainer Matthew Peebles. The 2-year-old Black Mambo filly had not raced since a 15-length defeat in her debut at Aqueduct April 19.
3:45 pm: The upcoming final four on the turf strikes me as a baffling and wide-open sequence, so I'm putting in a spready play for action, using the 50-cent option liberally, and hoping to catch a couple of prices:
4:05 pm: Ninth time the charm for Abaco ($7.10), dead last as various longshots took the field into the stretch before working her way through to give Phipps/McGaughey their second winner of the day. Winner named for resort islands in Northern Bahamas -- other siblings, produced by Cat Cay, include Treasure Cay, Bimini, Coasting and Islamorada.
4:35 pm: Artest ($12.00), who couldn't have been less impressive finishing 7th in an allowance race here opening day, returned six days later to win the $100k QUick Call Stakes under a perfectly-timed ride from John Velazquez. Drago's Best, put perhaps prematurely into a full drive to collar Gentlemans Code through a half in 44.56, won that battle but had nothing left to hold off the more patiently-ridden winner.
Artest, a 3-year-old Hard Spun colt owned by Dennis Narlinger and trained by Michelle Nihei, was making his second start off a seven-month layoff. Unlike his presumed namesake, the NBA player formerly known as Ron Artest, his name was not changed to Metta World Peace last year.
5:15 pm: Pretty fat pick-4 willpays for a sequence that began with $7.10, $12.00 and $7.50 winners. Wish I hadn't messed it up:
Eight of the 10 in the finale are covered in the pick-6.
Remember: First post tomorrow is 2:30 pm, so sleep in an extra 90 minutes while I'm driving up the Thruway. It's the first of two such later starts, the other coming on August 31, the Friday of the final weekend.
No doubt the late pick four paid so well since Artest paid half of his 10-1 morning line odds. I didn't like him either but someone did. Or was it the Johnny V factor?
Starting to handicap the next couple days at Saratoga. With rain in the forecast, what are the rules pertaining to off-the-turf races? What gets moved to 7fur. and what goes to 9fur.?
Steve, I have a question about the rules regarding the pick-6, your favorite bet. Many trainer's out West play the pick-6 HEAVY, I was cashing mine one day, and in front of me was a Prominent West Coast trainer I thought to myself, does he really need this money too. I have no quams about a Trainer betting the Pick-6 as long as he includes his own Horses. What I don't like is a Trainer that has two Horses in a Pick-6 that goes UN-COUPLED and you have to guess which one is going to fire. So if you play Horses on a Trainer's "M.O". you can toss that method out the window, if you INCLUDE both Horse's you DOUBLE the cost of your ticket. The Trainer has to tell each owner something, and I don't know what he's saying to them. He sure as Hell isn't saying to each Owner I don't have a clue which Horse is better, or which Horse is totally SET. One big Trainer on the West Coast does this ALL the Time. Big advantage, cost wise to the "In-Crowd" What say you???
I've made some money betting on horses named after athletes that I don't like. Artest today and over the years Rodman, Jabbar, anything with A-rod in it. also other sports related name Yawkey way, green monster. Here's hoping some body names a horse Youkilis.
Steve, if the casino pipeline subsidies are as flush as they appear to be... 1) Does NYRA still nickel-and-dime bettors with the old breakage racket?; 2) If so, why can't this be eliminated? In other words, if the win price is actually $12.63, why not now credit the winning ticket with a pay off of $12.65 or $12.70, instead of NYRA/succeeding soon-to-be-equally-infamous acronym paying off at $12.60?
Steve et al, anyone notice the early "steam" on the #5 Artest, who ran in the opening day 1st...things to come for Ms. Nihei
they should get the gps like Woodbine
4th race...in the stretch run, the 1A is making a move and the screen shows No. 1---Happy Inside (horse was scratched). Nodebtdanny was the 1A. Just horrible!!!
Doing some work on Saturday's card, and one thing that is noticeable is NYRA still using a $25,000 claiming option on N1x Allowance events. If the rules that make it so open claimers can't carry a purse of more than double the claiming price, wouldn't it make sense for the New York State Racing and Wagering board to require the optional claiming price be at least $50,000 on an N1x Allowance (even if it means upping such optional price on an N2x to $60,000 for instance)? I would personally like to see it where purses for open claiming races are capped at 60 percent above the claiming price going long and 50 percent going short (with the winner's share not being allowed to exceed the claiming price going long and be no more than 90 percent of the claiming price going short), with percentages dropped for there for such races with conditions. That would force the claiming prices upward and would have likely meant a $25,000 claiming bottom for this meet at Saratoga like we used to have for many years.
Steve: I'm thinking that early DD came back a little light--am I missing something? 32 and 33 dollar winners and the double pays $378?
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