07/28/2012 11:54AM

Saratoga Day 8: 7/28/12




12:55 pm: Main track and turf both labelled "good" and no scratches from the G1 Diana or G2 Jim Dandy for the second Saturday of Saratoga 2012. All five turf races are still on the grass, but it's cloudy and humid and there are forecasts of "developing showers" so stay tuned.

A couple of morning-line favorites have been scratched: Gulfport, who would have been heavily favored in the 3rd, and Undrgroundregulatr, who was 3-1 in the 11th.

I like out-of-towners in today's stakes, both of which are intriguing and highly-competitive. In the Diana, I took Dream Peace at 6-1. She's been a solid Group 2/3 performer in France, which may make her as good or better than her U/S/ G1 oppostition. Beyond her I expect winter Memories and Hungry Island to get by Tapitsflky today, which they couldn't do in the Just a Game on Belmont day, but today's race is a furlong farther and perhaps a furlong too far for Tapitsfly.

In the Jim Dandy I prefer the shippers Neck 'n' Neck (from Churchill) and Liaison (from Hollywood) to the locals. Neck 'n' Neck has blossomed in his last two starts and a repeat of either should win. Liaison ran well in both the affirmed and Swaps and those races may have been stronger than the Easy Goer and Dwyer in these parts. I've always liked Alpha but am not crazy about him as the 5-2 ML favorite off a 12-week layoff.


1:05 pm: Raison d'Etat ($5.10), last year's Curlin runner-up and then 9th at 7-1 in the Travers, made a winning return to the races to take the opener in his first start since January 28. The Juddmonte homebred, an A. P. Indy-Sightseek colt trained by Bill Mott, took over in upper stretch and then pulled clear despite weaving in and out down the lane, stopping the timer in 1:51.05 for 9f.


1:20 pm: A little early pick-4 action, with a lot of guesswork on the two juvenile races that kick it off:

Hey, it's guaranteed to make it through the 10-horse first leg.


1:40 pm: Sorry to have picked the winner, as 8-5 Pletcher firster Charming Kitten held off 30-1 Mott firster Fire Guard to win the 2nd. The Ramsey homebred, yet another Kitten's Joy, stalked the spectacularly overbet (3-1??) Bernie the Jet from third, gradually advanced to the lead, and kicked clear late. Can't tell if the turf course is that off or the pace was just bizarrely slow, but the fractions were 51.01 and 1:15.99 before a soild final 5-16ths under 30 seconds for a final time of 1:45.73.


1:55 pm: Just started drizzling. "Showers and thunderstorms continuing through early evening" sayeth The Weather Channel.


2:10 pm: Pletcher firster Lawn Man, allegedly less well-regarded than uncouple and pricier ($450k vs. $130k) enrymate Tizracer, wired the field in the 3rd. The two Toddlers were 1-2 into the turn with heavily-touted 2-1 Darley McLaughlin firster North Slope stalking in third, but the favorite had nothing in the stretch as Lawn Man scampered away, with Pass the Pico up for second over Honorable Dillon. The latter, a pretty nearly-white Tapit colt, ran well in spots and bears watching.  


2:40 pm: Pete's Parley lit up the tote board in the 4th, running down 2-1 Crown the Chief in deep stretch to pay $59.00 and key a $52k for $2 superfecta. Pete's Parley was claimed from Steve Asmussen by Gregg Matties in his last start. Not sure why Javier Castellano felt it necessary to gun Crown the Chief through nutty fractions of 21.63 and 44.96, and the favorite actually did well to hold second after that early effort.

Pretty fat willpays:


3:00 pm: Raining steadily now. Best guess is that the 11th and final race could still come off the turf, which would presumably be announced before the pick-6 starts in 40 minutes. I'm not playing it, but would advise holding off on putting in your late pick-4's until that's decided.


3:10 pm: Pete's Parley not long enough for you at 28-1? How about Our Edge, coming off two losses at Indiana Downs, getting up to win the 5th at 37-1? The former Nick Zito runner, now owned and trained by Ronald Moquett, paid $77 flat as 19-1 Prince Silver was second and 6-5 Associate third. Pick-4, which began with an 8-5 favorite, paid $91,156.

Before someone whines that the double of Pete's Parley at $59 and Our Edge at $77 "came back suspiciously short" at a mere $1,350, please remember that the winning digits were the ever-popular 7-7.

Track has been downgraded to muddy, and will be sealed before the 6th race.


3:20 pm: 11th race now officially off the turf.


4:15 pm: Assateague, off since a maiden victory on yielding turf at Keeneland last October, led at every call to win the 7th at $28.40, with 3-5 favorite Pianist an even third. Kitty wine, who ran second all the way around, was 7-1 when they were loading, 4-1 by the time the simo money was all in around the first turn. Sun's back out for now.


4:35 pm: The late pick-4:


5:20 pm: Winter Memories ($5.50) unleashed her best kick and ran her record to 8 for 12, winning the Diana over 7-1 Dream Peace with last year's winner, Zagora, a mild third. Tapitsfly, who upset Winter Memories in the Just a Game on Belmont Stakes Day, led comfortably but tired late to hold fourth as the 5-2 second choice.

The question now is how far Winter Memories will stretch out this fall, when the championship races in the filly-turf division are all beyond the 9f distance that is the farthest she has gone.

Winter Memories, a 4-year-old El Prado-Memories of Silver filly is a John Philips homebred trained by Jimmy Toner, She was ridden by Javier Castellano, who got off Zagora to ride her.


6:00 pm: Alpha was hardly a surprise winning the Jim Dandy, given he was the 9-5 favorite, but the way he won it was unexpected: No one else wanted the lead so the confirmed stretch-runner wired the field.

Alpha set comfortable fractions of 24.40, 49.30 and 1:14.03, as Teeth of the dog sat second applying no pressure. Around the turn, Neck n Neck moved up from third to challenge, but Alpha had plenty left to hold him off. Liaison, who walked out ofthe gate, finished well behind the slow fractions to be up for third over no-excuse Teeth of the Dog.

The final time of 1:50.47 was hard to gauge over today's changing wet track, Yesterday, Street Game earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 99 winning the Curlin Stakes. Street Game and today's first three finishers all look like legit candidates for the Travers Aug. 25, a race whose other main candidates are running tomorrow in the Haskell at Monmouth.

Monmouth has an all-graded-stakes pick-4 tomorrow consisting of the G3 Matchmaker, G2 Molly Pitcher, G3 Oceanport and G1 Haskell.


6:05 pm: Looks like only 3 of the 9 in the finale (10, 11 and 15) are covered in the pick-6:


6:30 pm: Chasing Moonlight ($5.80) took the finale as the favorite and the pick-4 paid $220 instead of the posted willpay of $308.50 because he was the post-time favorite, inheriting additional winning tickets on the scratched horses.

Racing resumes at 1 p.m. tomorrow with six scheduled grass races and the feature is the G2 Amsterdam.