08/03/2011 12:35PM

Spa Day 11: 8/3/11


12:35 pm: Sunny and clear at Saratoga but don't get used to it -- post times are being accelerated due to a forecast of late-afternoon storms. The last race, initially carded for 6:04 p.m., has been rescheduled for 5:28 pm, so roughly four minutes will be shaved off the usual gap between each race. There's allegedly a 55 percent chance of rain by 3 pm, up to 75% by 5 pm. Don't get shut out.

Now, let's play The Feud!

I was channel-surfing yesterday and the Game Show Network was running an old "Family Feud" episode where this was the question: "Name something that people are paid to predict."

Of course the first answer that came to my mind was "A horse race." I didn't expect it would be the most-popular of the four top answers among the 100 people polled, but maybe it could be number 4?

The first guess was, predictably, "The weather," the number one answer with 61 votes. The next was "The future" -- which is sort of meaningless because any prediction by definition involves the future -- but okay, "predict the future" is a common idiom and got 25 votes. The family guessing the answers then also nailed the third most popular response -- "The stock market" with 8 -- before hitting a wall. "Your health," "Horoscopes" and "Sports scores" all were misses, and the other family got a chance to steal the points with one guess at what #4 might be. "Horse races! Horse races!" I yelled at the tv, but their guess was "Your fortune." It too was a whiff.

I waited for the last answer to be revealed, rooting for racing. The #4 answer, alas, was "Earthquakes."


2:20 pm: First three races of the day went to trainers Shug McGaughey, Tood Pletcher and Steve Asmussen.

In the 1st, Puzzling, a Phipps homebred 3-year-old Ghostzapper-Dancinginmydreams filly, showed ahrp improvement rallying to win at 10-1.

The board for the 2nd race, a five-furlong baby dash, opened with Hunt Crossing, a Corinthian colt trained by Pletcher, at 1-9 with the six others in double digits. Hunt Crossing drifted up only as far as 1-to-2, was outbroken by Levine firster One Slick Dude, but ran down that one and drew off late by four lengths in 58.41. It was Pletcher's 15th winner of the meeting, and he's now 7 for 13 with 2-year-olds here this yearo start the meet.

The 3rd, a turf sprint for older filly maidens, went to Yadira, a $575k 2-year-old purchase more than two years ago. She tired badly when she finally made it to the races as a 4-year-old in a dirt race at Churchill July 2 but today she finished strongly at 6-1.

The skies are slowly turning gray but no rain yet.


3:55 pm: Okay, just for a little pre-storm action:

4:40 pm: Terrific finish to the featured Morrissey for statebred sprinters as Ibboyee came flying late to nail Be Bullish in a photo between 6-5 favorites.

Considering the tiny margin, Be Bullish's slight stumble at the start may have cost him, because it allowed Mineswept to get the lead and made Be Bullish work to catch up to him before putting him away in upper stretch. John Velazquez tried to keep the one-run Ibboyee closer than usual to what figured to be a mild pace, and Ibboyee seemed to want no part of it, looking beaten and one-paced in upper stretch, but then launched his usual rally and just got there. 

Ibboyee ($4.70), 16th winner of the meet for Pletcher, is a 4-year-old Medallist colt. Be Bullish atracted $85k to Ibboyee's $83k in the win pool.

The Morrissey was a rare case of Pletcher running against owner Mike Repole, who has most of his horses with Pletcher but claimed Be Bullish out of his last start and gave him to trainer George Weaver.


5:05 pm: Argentine Talisman ($31.40), dropping from two open dirt stakes to $50k turf claiming company, rallied between horses to prevail in the afternoon's third straight tight photo-finish and give trainer Michael Matz his first winner of the meet.

Looks like there are only three covered in the finale in the pick-6: three tickets alive to favorite Montana Knight at $13k each, two (strangely) to #4 History Starts Now (currently 16-1) at $20k each and one to #5 B G Suavecito at $40k.

6:00 pm: The rain never made it -- so much for "Name something people are paid to predict." Late pick-4 play turned out a little better as Montana Knight ($4.90) was tons the best circling the field to win and complete a $1,665 pick-4 and $13,813 pick-6.

Tomorrow's the first Saratoga card I can recall (anyone else?) where the program begins with back-to-back steeplechase races. First post is 1 p.m., but if you're not a fan of up-and-over, the first flat race is at 2:10. And if you're also not a fan of 2-year-old racing, the two jumps are followed by three baby races so you can sleep in until the 6th at 3:51 pm.

Due to the steeplechases, tomorrow's early pick-4 has been moved from the usual races 2-5 to races 3-6, to be followed by the regular late pick-4 on races 7-10.

Sydney More than 1 year ago
I love what you write.......it's like you are talking to someone and not writing. You put so much into what You say!
Diceman More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Congrats on your Pick 4 Score! Just a thought. If NYRA feels compelled to card Steeplechase Races ar Saratoga, why not make them the last races of the day rather than the 1st or 2nd. Under this concept , the die-hard SC fans would hang around and the Losers would try to get even. In any event, if I were at the Track I wouild leave and beat the Exit Crowd and then head for my favorite Italian Restaurant, too many to mention, and again beat the Dinner Crowd! Good Luck betting today's Saratoga action. I will focus om Arlington, Calder and Monmouth! The Diceman
Dogs Up More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, we love you anyway; even though they picked the other answers. And the general population didn't pick sports scores (which racing might have fit into as a relationship). Glad they didn't ask: Name a kind of Race? You really would have fallen off your chair. It would probably come out: Human, Car, Rat, then something like Ethnic, Asian or other race. So we got overlooked. As quoted in the Godfather, when the leaders are all complaining about the many problems they are having running organized crime, one responds, "This is the business we have chosen." We think and are horse racing. That's it.
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Walt, NYRA regularly ran 2 steeplechases EVERY Wed/Thur in the 80's. Races 4 and 6. Pick 6 bettors be damned!
Sloughi More than 1 year ago
Good answer, Steve. Good answer.
Will LaTulippe More than 1 year ago
@Hialeah: Ray Combs, not Roy Cohn.
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Saratoga started cards with 2 consecutive jump races on Aug 3 2005 and Aug 17 2005.
Steeplestakes More than 1 year ago
It wasn't that long ago (late 80's-early 90's) that there was steeplechasing every Thurs & Friday @ the Spa. I have a photo of me standing in the winner's circle after Chief of the Clan won the 1987 NY Turf Writer's Cup Hcp for Hall of Fame conditioner Burley Cocks with Chuck Lawrence (who saddled the winner of the 2nd race @ Saratoga Sunday at odds of 13.80-1) in the irons. My recollection is the Turf Writer’s was held on a Friday that year and there was also jump racing on Thursdays that year, so it’s not that much of a leap (pardon the pun) to hold two steeplechase races on the same card. Of course I also remember when permanent hurdle (3’9” high and 1’ wide) fences and brush (5’ high and 2’ wide) fences were built into what are now the inner turf courses at Saratoga and Belmont. There was jump racing 5 days a week at Saratoga and Belmont in those days, and Sundays were dark days. Those who complain about handicapping jump races need to get a grip. You apply the exact same handicapping principles to steeplechase races as you do to flat races: Which horses have the best recent form? Which horses have back class? Which horses have won at this distance before? Which horses are bred to like the distance? If two or more horses are coming off a win in their last start, who ran a faster time? Which trainers and jockeys have the best winning percentages? If the horses have competed against each other in the same race before, which horse finished ahead of the other? Did one of those horses get a bad trip? Are those horses carrying different weight today than when they previously faced each other? Is this race at a different distance than when they previously faced each other? Steeplechase racing is as easy, if not easier, to handicap than those dreaded turf sprints. Steeplechase racing is also as easy, if not easier, to handicap than most 2-yr-old races. As a general rule handicappers love to complain about everything; those who complain about handicapping steeplechase races are either too lazy to spend the time analyzing the past performance charts or not sophisticated enough to appreciate the challenges of trying to solve a steeplechase handicapping puzzle. Those people should avoid visiting England or Ireland between Nov-March when they hold as many as 4 steeplechase meets (that’s right, a race card with 6 steeplechase races in-a-row) on the same day, and the bettors send it in with both fists.
Mickey the Quickie More than 1 year ago
Mr. P6: I know I will be in the minority, however, as much as I love playing the horses (25 years) and live part time in SS, when did you stop the frivolity of the blog, the pictures of the hounds, the restaurant reviews, the cheese waffle search, etc. You are the best vertical HC, but let all of us enjoy your humorous side. See you Traver's week at the escalator, as always, good luck, good picks and long live the hounds.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
There was one case a few years ago where NYRA carded two jump races that wound up being canceled, and NYRA ran a seven-race card (and I think you blogged it as I recall, not sure because it's been a few years), and other than to make up a canceled jump race, it's the last time I can remember two jump races being carded to start the program. NYRA certainly got lucky with the rain today, though moving up the card was the right call to assure it got done before the heavy rain hit.