12/07/2008 2:41PM

Snow Day



I wouldn't have taken even-money on racing's being held at Aqueduct today the way the snow was coming down around midnight last night with two inches already accumulated, but it was above freezing this morning and what's left looks like nothing but artfully-applied holiday decorations. The track is fast and the show goes on.

 Forgot to switch over to TVG at 1:40 a.m. for the Japan Cup Dirt but NYRA showed a replay this morning after announcing the late scratches. The three American-based entrants were shut out, with Mast Track a scratch after coming up lame on race day, and Frost Giant and Tin Cup Chalice running 12th and 13th of 15. Tin Cup Chalice, legitimately 100-1 or more, somehow went off as only the fifth choice at only 21-1 and led for a while before fading badly in the final furlong. Casino Drive, the only 3-year-old in the top six, was beaten about 2 1/2 lengths as the 9-1 third choice, running sixth behind four 6-year-olds and an 8-year-old.

The weekend's other Grade/Group 1 race was Saturday's Hollywood Turf Cup, where Champs Elysees finally became a U.S. G1 winner in a race that's ripe for being knocked down a grade. The 5-year-old half-brother to Banks Hill, Cacique, Heat Haze and Intercontinental gets some credit for rallying from off a slow pace, but got a perfect trip up the rail to run down the longshot who was waltzing on the lead and then had to get down on his belly to hold off the game but modestly-accomplished Obrigado.

The victory was Bobby Frankel's 12th in a U.S. Grade 1 stakes race this year -- twice as many as Bob Baffert and Rick Dutrow, tied for second with six each and two ahead of Steve Asmussen and John Shirreffs.

--Here's a visual presentation of the changes with the Grade 1 schedule at Saratoga for 2009, for those of you making early travel plans: