08/03/2011 12:35PM

Spa Day 11: 8/3/11

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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.