07/27/2012 1:20PM

Saratoga Day 7: 7/27/12



2:20 pm: Last night's rain has knocked 4 of Friday's 5 grass races at Saratoga off the turf and on to the currently sloppy main track.

The 2nd stays at 5 1/2 furlongs. The 5th and 7th, originally carded for 1 1/16 miles, will be run at 1 1/8 miles. The finale, carded for a mile, drops back to seven furlongs.

Only the 6th, the $100k Irish Linnet Stakes for New York-bred fillies, remains on the turf.

The sun is out so the main track may dry out and could be upgraded.

There wasn't a raindrop or a straw in my path driving up from Long Island this morning. Passed the Belmont stable gate at 10:01, got to the Union Avenue gate here at 1:30. Things slow down between exits 23 and 24 on the Thruway, where there's some brilliantly-scheduled construction work going on these days, but I've seen worse.


3:15 pm: A $162.50 early double in the slop (seems more like mud) as Strike the Moon ($10.80) and Elusive Jozi took the first two races on teh Friday card.

Strike the Moon, who won the $400k Charles Town Oaks last year and was beaten just a head by St. John's river in the Delaware Oaks, appreciated the dropback to N3x company after contesting stakes in 12 of her last 14 starts. The 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly won by 5 1/4 in 1:09.95 for 6f on the sloppy sealed track.

ELusive Jozi was brave to win the second, winning an early duel and then just holding off 5-2 Scott's Aly Cat in the day's first off-the-turfer. Laylaben, 9-1 at the time was scratched at the gate.

Just for the record, I love these occasional 2:30 pm starts up here and wish they'd do it more often.  


3:45 pm: Centring, 1-2 favorite following a good second to Dance Card three weeks ago off a 19-month layoff, was a comfortable three-length winner over Lady Kirkegaard in the 3rd. The Darley homebred is a 4-year-old filly by A. P. Indy out of Composure.

With only a nine-race (how quaint!) card today, remember that things start earlier than usual -- the pick-6 begins in half an hour with the 4th and the late pick-4 starts with the 6th.


4:25 pm: Park City ($15.60 -- for a Pletcher/Velazquez firster!) much the best beating even-money Stage Street to win the day's lone 2-year-old race. Park City was carried very wide on the turn while Stage Street slipped through a gigantic opening at the rail, but Park City wore down the favorite despite losing ground and losing his footing in the mud. Winner, a $165k Harlan's Holiday yearling, ran the 5f in 58.55.


4:59 pm: Can't go all the way to 5 pm without betting on something, so let's try the late pick-4. Can't get past Hessonite in the Irish Linnet, so I'll lean hard on her and try to make some rain in the 7th and 9th:


5:25 pm: Hessonite ($3.30) was way too good for her six Irish Linnet rivals, inhaling them when asked by Dominguez and drawing off by 4 1/4 lengths. Inimitable Romance was up for 2nd as the 7-2 second choice, with early pacesetters Considerate and Mystical Storm third and fourth in that order.

Hessonite, second to graded winner Gitchee Goomie in her last two, towered over this field oin GG's absence. The 4-year-old daughter of Freud is now 5 for 6 in grass races against fellow New York-breds.

The Irish Linnet honors the Austin Delaney homebred, trained by Leo O'Brien, who won 19 of 62 starts and $1.2 million. She won the Yaddo Stakes for NY-bred fillies here an incredible five years in a row from 1991 through 1995, and also won the G2 New York Handicap and G3 Noble Damsel.


5:55 pm: Lemon Splendor ($14.40) loooked like she'd have to settle form 2nd after 3-1 fave Shesabronxbomber passed her in upper stretch and opened a two-length lead, but Lemon just kept coming back from the inside and nailed the favorite at the wire. Second of the day for owners Jim and Susan Hill and trainer George Weaver, who also scored with Citizen Wells in the 5th.


6:30 pm: Street Life, who was tird in the Peter Pan and fourth in the Belmont, rallied from last behind a solid pace to win the $100k Curlin, restricted to 3-year-olds who had not won a graded stakes race. The victory may well earn Street Life a berth in the Travers, where he figures to like the 10-furlong distance. He is from the first crop sired by Street Sense, who won the Kentucky Derby and Travers in 2007.

Longshot Five Sixteen was second, with Ever So Lucky third and slight favorite Easter Gift fourth at 2-1.

After the race, Barbara Banke, who campaigned Curlin with her late husband, Jess Jackson, announced the name of the foal produced from the mating of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, also raced by Jackson and Banke. The colt, who had been known at the farm only as Taco, will race under the name Jess's Dream. Curlin was Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008 and Rachel Alexandra won that honor in 2009.

Five of the nine in the off-the-turf finale are covered in the pick-6; $45k carry if one of the others wins:


7:05 pm: Thunderous G ($8.80) ran away with the nightcap to complete a $434 pick-4 and $15,267 pick-6. Post time reverts to 1 pm tomorrow for an 11-race card that includes the G1 Diana at 5:12 pm and the G2 Jim Dandy at 5:45 pm. I'll be in the Carousel starting at 11:45 a.m. for Talking Horses.