07/25/2014 12:52PM

Saratoga Day 7: 7/25/2014


12:50 pm: It's "15% Friday" at Saratoga, but what does that mean? Takeout has not been slashed to 15 percent in all pools, unfortunately, and the low 15% rake applies only to the Pick-6, but the pick-6 takeout is 15 % every day that there's no carryover. As the fine print in the above NYRA ad says, "15% takeout on non-carryover days only," even a Friday.

The only actual difference is that there's a $100,000 guaranteed pool for the pick-6 every Friday starting today. It could come into play: the four non-carryover days at the meet so far have drawn pools of $92k, $104k, $45k and $55k. (The two one-day carryovers attracted $316k and $167k in fresh money.) So on a Friday with no carryover, NYRA might have to kick in a few bucks to make the $100k guarantee.

Today's stakes race is the ungraded Curlin, restricted to 3-year-olds who have not won a graded stakes race at longer than a milethis year. Commanding Curve, the Derby runner-up, has been scratched and will instead run in the G2 Jim Dandy tomorrow. Cousin Stephen, entered in both races, will run today and scratch tomorrow.

Curlin, the Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008, will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame two weeks from today on Aug. 8.

1:10 pm: Silver Union ($3.60), Lasix on and dropping from $75k to $35k maiden claiming, was bet from 9/5 ML to 4/5 and was an easy winner of the opener. Well-meant Guillot firster Lovely Elle broke behind the field, moved all the way up to make a run at the leader around the turn, then flattened out late and settled for third.

1:45 pm: In a battle of dropdowns from toney outfits, 4-5 Violet Hour (Pletcher) dueled with 7-2 My Place (Mott), then edged away late to win by 3 3/4 in 1:24.24. My Place salvaged second by a nose. Violet Hour ($3.60) capped a whopping  $8.60 for $2 early double.

2:20 pm: Like 12-furlong races? Me too. Today's 3rd, an N1x allowance, went at the rarely-used distance and $35k claimers will try it tomorrow in the 6th. (Sunday's 4th, for maidens, is at a mile and three eighths.)

Saffron Hall went to the lead in today's 12-furlonger, and 2:28.35 later he was still in front, by a diminishing half-length over Grand Rapport with the filly Clearbrook third. The 1-2 finishers are both by Storm Cat stallions: Giant's Causeway for the winner, Grand Reward for the runner-up.

The posted fractional times are interesting if not entirely plausible. Saffron Hall looked keyed up early, but allegedly ran his first six furlongs in 1:16.71 and the latter six furlongs in 111.64.

2:45 pm: Noble Cornerstone ($5.80), lone 3-year-old among seven statebred N2xers, took the length of the stretch to get by 7-1 pacesetter Big Deluxe to win the 4th in 1:15.63 for 6.5f.

3:45 pm: Contentious N3x in the 6th, where the five-horse field had two 2-1's, two 3-1's and a 6-1. Abraham ($6.70) went to the front, turned back a bid by Bad Hombre around the stretch turn, then spurted away from the field in the stretch as Stephanoatsee at 6-1 got up for second. Abraham was third in last year's G3 Sunland Derby and 4th in the G3 Illinois Derby, G2 Peter Pan and G2 Dwyer.

Stormy Rocit ($10.80) in the 5th was the second winner of the day fror owners Jim and Susan Hill and trainer George Weaver, who also took the opener with Silver Union. Tyrus was scratched at the gate; he was 63-1 at the time.

You can't cash any tickets unless you buy some, so here's my very spready pick-4 play. I'm obviously short on strong opinions, but why should that stop me?

4:50 pm: Writingonthewall ($19.80) won a scintillating stretch duel from 4-1 Regulus to win the 8th race and his 16th start in 53 career starts.

The 9-year-old NY-bred  E Dubai gelding began his career at Aqueduct in February of 2008, won three races on the grass during the 2010 Saratoga meeting, and has raced under the successive tutelage of Carlos Martin, David Jacobson, Todd Pletcher, Richard Stoklosa, Gary Gullo, Jamie Ness, Bruce Levine, Jacobson again, and now Michelle Nevin. Today's victory pushed his career earnings over $630k.

5:40 pm: V.E. Day ($18.20), making his first start on fast dirt, outfinished Charge Now, Protonica and Viva Majorca in a blanket finish to win the Curlin and give rider Jose Lezcano his 2,000th career victory.

The time of the race, 1:50.51 , was about four lengths slower than the older allowance horse Abraham required to win the 6th(1:49.87).

The top four finishers, all with only 3 or 4 career starts before today, have room to improve but wouldl have to do so sharply to be more than fringe players in the Travers four weeks hence.

The posted pick-6 willpays look goofy and probably wrong, with three horses listed as paying exactly $85,000.00. That would be 85 percent of the guaranteed $100k pool, but 25 percent of that pool is supposed to go for consolations and the winning payoff with #7 is listed as $102,221, suggesting the guaranteed threshhold was in fact met. In any case, it appears that 6 of the 10 in the finale are covered, though it is impossible to square the willpays of $46,409 for two horses, $85,000 for three others and $102,221 for one with any logical pool size.

6:00 pm: 24-1 Angel Choir almost gave us a carryover to Saturday, rushing to the lead and still holding it by three lengths in upper stretch, but was nailed at the blanket finish of a bumpy stretch run by third choice Fresh Feline for Lazy F Ranch and trainer John Shirreffs. Before knowing the outcome of the photo, jockey Rajiv Maragh on Fresh Feline claimed foul against Angel Choir. After a confusing inquiry process, Angel Choir was disqualified and placed third behind Jolene.

The one-winner pick-6 payoff was finally corrected from $85,000 to $63,750, the proper amount if the guarantee was not met and the pool was supplemented to reach exactly $100,000: subtract $15k for takeout and $21,250 (25 percent of the remaining $85k) for consos, and you get to $63,750. The 5/6 conso was posted as $1,700.00. Divide $21,250 by that and you get 12.5, so somehow someone had half a conso.  

Tomorrow's 11-race card includes two Grade 2 stakes for 3-year-olds: The $200k Amsterdam at 6 1/2 furlongs is Race 8, and the $600k Jim Dandy at a mile and an eighth is race 10 of 11.