07/27/2013 10:21AM

Saratoga Day 8: July 27, 2013

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11:20 am: Sunny and 80, fast and firm for an 11-race card featuring a pair of Grade 1 stakes, the Prioress and Diana, and the return of the Belmont stakes winner in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.

Here are the (pre-scratch) picks I sent in for "Talking Horses," which starts down in the Carousel at 11:45: 1) 2-6-11-8; 2) 1a-8-2-3; 3) 5-6-3-2; 4) 1-8-7-6; 5) 7-5-2-3; 6) 14-3-7-10; 7) 2-1-8-5; 8) 5-1-2-4; 9) 3-5-2-1; 10) 5-8-4-2; 11) 13-10-9-3-6.

 

11:30 am: Oh great: Four of my 11 top picks were just posted as scratches (Bay of Biscay in the 3rd, Winning Touch in the 6th, Dayatthepsa in the Diana and Jess not Jesse in the 11th.)

 

1:10 pm: Caixa Electronica is just plain cool. The 8-year-old just won for the 22nd time in 65 career starts taking the opener, a starter allowance for which he still qualifies from his claiming days. Since being haltered by Repople/Pletcher ein early 2011, the Arromanches horse has won the Westchester, Charles Town Classic, True North and Fall Highweight and been 2nd or 3rd in two Vosburghs and a Met Mile.

Lunch today was the crab roll from the Siro's booth in the Taste of Saratoga area opposite the main escalator, and I endorse it without reservation (don't try eating dinner at Siro's without reservations, however.) It's big and seems like genuine crab and a bargain at $8.

 

1:50 pm: So a guy comes up to me fter Talking Horses and says he read a column I wrote last week mentioning that the first race I ever covered as a NY Times reporter at Saratoga was the 1979 Alabama. "So I went at my attic and found the Racing Form from that day and I want you to have it." Awesome.

The lead story in that August 11, 1979 paper is "Davona Dale 1-5 in Spa's Alabama" by Joe Hirsch, accompanied by a Peb drawing of the odds-on favorite singing at a "Calumet" piano being played by John Veitch. The rest of the broadsheet's front page included race advances from Doug McCoy (the Sapling at Monmouth), John McGourty (the Playpen at Bowie) and Bob McCurley (the $12,200 Beach Haven at Atlantic City.) There's also a story from Herb Goldstein about "the greatest night in Fasig-Tipton history," where a half-brother to Alleged was auctioned for $650,000 at the yearling sales.

I showed the paper to Mike Welsch and half-seriously asked him if he had anything in that day's paper. We opened it to page 3 and there it was, under his byline from Rockingham: "Rise Jim Faces Six in 'Cap."

 

For the record, all six DRF handicappers in the Saratoga selectors' box picked Davona Dale in the Alabama, where she ran second to It's In The Air.

 

2:15 pm: Back-to-back juvenile winners for trainer Al Stall in the 2nd and 3rd, both with second-time starters. In the 2nd it was Base Case Scenario, a $200k Pioneerofthe Nile colt who ran 3rd on the dirt in his Churchill debut and stretched out to 8.5f on the grass today. He's owned by Klaravich/Lawrence, their meet-high fourth at this stand. In the 3rd it was Claiborne/Dilschneider homebred Twang (Dixie Union-Spoken), also 3rd at CD but an easy winner in a field of five at 6f on the dirt today. I've always liked that Claiborne gives so many oof their good horses pithy one-syllable names -- see Swale, Lure and Blame. Coincidentally or not, 8 of the 12 stallions who began the year at Claiborne have one-word names --Algorithms, Arch, Blame, Eddington, Flatter, Parading, Pulpit and Stroll. (Eddington has moved and Pulpit died.)

2:45 pm: John Velazquez's victory aboard Unitarian ($6.10) in the 4th was his 694th career win at Saratoga, putting him one ahead of Jerry Bailey for the all-time lead among jockeys. Bailey, on hand for the NBC Sports Network telecast of the Diana and Jim dandy, presented him with a plaque in the winner's circle.

3:15 pm: If you're passing by any bridges this afternoon, beware of falling bodies: Kauai Katie just ran dead last in the Grade 1 Prioress at 2-to-5, taking $254,105 of a $317,208 show pool down with her and producing the following WPS mutuels:

"I was asking her the whole way and she wasn't giving me anything," said Velazquez of the favorite. "She just didn't fire at all today."

Even if you didn't like the favorite for some reason (and I couldn't find one), the winner was tough to come up with. She was making her graded-stakes debut and her career-best Beyer of 79 was fifth best in the field and seemingly uncompetitive. She benefitted from an unexpected early duel between Wildcat Lily and (surprisingly) So Many Ways, but Kauai Katie was perfectly positioned behind them and simply had nothing when they straightened away in the stretch. Lighthouse Bay, a Richlyn farm homebred trained by George Weaver, is now 4 for 7.

To me the outcome illustrates the shortsightedness of putting a race like this early in the card and keeping it out of not only the spot where a Grade 1 stakes belongs but also excluding it from the pick-6. The idea that you should make the , seems the time to pick-6 as hard as possible is misguided -- it's actually a win-win to have a race like this in it. If the heavy favorite wins, it's a free square that attracts action, and if the heavy fave loses, there's the carryover you're trying to create.

 

4:45 pm: With G1 Diana coming up next, here's ypour Diana Did-You-Know: Four Diana winners spanning 20 years all reside at Darby Dan Farm: Winter Memories (2012), Wonder Again (2004), Memories of Silver (1998) and Plenty of Grace (1992).

 

5:30 pm: Laughing proved her upset victory over Dayatthespa in the Eatontown last time out was no fluke by leading all the way to score her first Grade 1 victory by a head in the $600k Diana. Dream Peace, last year's runner-up, was second again, with 3-to-2 Stephanie's Kitten up late for third and Centre Court last of five as the 6-5 favorite.

With Dayatthespa scratched, Laughing looked like lone speed in the small field, but Julien Leparoux on Centre Court kept his filly close early and went on the attack around the far turn. Laughing, however, pulled away as Centre Court began a steady retreat and then held off Dream Peace to the wire. Stephanie's Kitten rallied strongly but was in a tough spot after trailing the slow fractions of 24.24, 49.19 and 1:12.53.

Laughing ran her final furlong in 11.44 en route to a final time of 1:47.24under Jose Lezcano. The 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Dansili, bred by (I swear I'm not making this up) "Floors Farming and the Duke Of Devonshire," races for Richard Santulli and is trained by Alan Goldberg.

 

6:02 pm: Palace Malice ($4.70) returned from his Belmont Stakes victory seven weeks ago with a strong triumph in the G2 Jim Dandy, stalking and then putting away Dwyer winner Moreno and holding off 17-1 Will Take Charge late to win by a length.

The son of Curlin, owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, will now advance to the Travers Aug. 24 in what looms a showdown of the the three Triple Crown race winners. Preakness winner Oxbow runs tomorrow in the Haskell and Derby winner Orb will train up to the race. Palace Malice broke sharply and was second to Moreno through fractions of 24.06, 47.48 and 1:11.13. he took over in upper stretch and was under only mild pressure to the wire. Will Take Charge, who beat Oxbow in the Rebel but was then trounced in all three legs of the Triple Crown, raced without blinkers today and put in a nice late run that may earn him a Travers berth.

The winner's final time of 1:47.37 looks excellent. The day's only other 9f race was the opener, where Caixa Electronica ran 1:50.91, albeit in a race where the early pace was also about three seconds slower.

I'll post the willpays into the last of today's 11 whenever NYRA puts them up -- 15 minutes to post but still nothing.

 

6:05 pm: Okay, here they are:

Looks like 5 of the 12 are covered in the pick-6; otherwise, a $98k carryover to Sunday...

6:30 pm: ..and there's a $98k carryover to Sunday after uncovered Richmond County ($23.40)won the finale in a bob over Shmooz Talker and Writingonthewall. The sequence begins in race 6 tomorrow -- the first of three consecutive $20k N2L conditioned claimers. I'll be in the Carousel starting at 11:45 a.m. with Andy Serling to go through the card on "Talking Horses."