08/04/2011 1:54PM

Spa Day 12: 8/4/11


1:55 pm: A lot of you are complaining about today's Saratoga card, where the first five are two steeplechases followed by three firster-filled baby races, and I sympathize even if I selfishly disagree in this respect: If there's going to be a card with five races like that, I'd much rather see them run in a row early to get them out of the way and leave at least half a playable card in one piece, as opposed to having a jump or a firsterfest every other race all day long.

I won't be making a bet until the 7th -- the late pick-4 will be my only action today (unless I get knocked out and have to regroup/reload). I'll put up some thoughts and tickets a little later on.

In the meantime, look what I found at the nearby Wilton Mall on the dark day:

You see that thing to the left of the mouse that looks like a cigarette connected to my laptop with a USB cable? That's exactly what it is: An electronic cigarette. You charge it up, put in some flavored liquid of your choice (I went for "menthol," but the available flavors range from coffee to wild cherry), and you can puff away with no fire or smoke. You get a little shot of nicotine, something that feels like a hit off a cigarette, and all you exhale is odorless water vapor. I'm not saying it's going to get me to quit the real thing altogether, but I'm hoping it will help me to cut down. The box is clearly marked that this is "Not a smoking-cessation tool" but it's the first product I've found that (okay, I've only had it for two days) satisfies the nico-jones.

The manufacturers of these things, and it's a booming business, say it's perfectly legal to puff on them in places where smoking is prohibited such as, say, the press box here at Saratoga. While they may be right, I got a bunch of dirty looks when I tried it out yesterday and may have to put up a little sign at my workspace saying "I swear it's not real smoke." 


2:15 pm: As for those first two races:

It only seems like the correct answer to the question "How long is the A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase?" is "They go around until Jonathan Sheppard's horse wins it." The trainer won his 6th Smithwick since 1998 in the opener as Divine Fortune ($9.30) successfully defended his 2010 Smithwick title. Slip Away, the 2010 Eclipse winner and 2-1 favorite, led most of the way before tiring on the stretch turn. Decoy daddy stormed to the lead in what looked like a premaure move, and then Divine Fortune nailed him in deep stretch and won by two lengths. The time was 3:49.20 for the actual distance of 2 1/16 miles.

Sheppard has won 6 of the 16 runnings of the Smithwick -- with Romantic in 1998, It’s a Giggle in 2002, Mixed Up in 2007 and 2009, and now with Divine Fortune in 2010 and 2011.

Sheppard and jockey Brian Crowley also won the second jump race with Royal Rossi ($10.20). Time was 3:50.34 and the Sheppard-Sheppard double paid $35.40.


3:45 pm: As for those three baby races, where 23 of the 27 combined starters were making their debuts:

3rd: 2-year-old fillies going 5f. Xunlei ($8.50), lone second-timer facing six firsters, wore down Bruce Brown firster Stay Composed and drew off by 4 1/2 in 59.45 for Romans/Maragh.

4th: 2-year-old statebred fillies going 5.5f on the turf. Second choice Dayatthespa ($7.80), Chad Brown firster by City Zip, scored by 4 over Clement firster Quiet Ending. Rice firster Satin Sheeks cahsed early, backed up to fifth as 5-2 favorite.

5th: 2-year-old filly statebreds, $50k tags, going 5.5f on the dirt. McLaughlin firster For her Eyes Only, pounded to 3-2, rocketed to lead in 22.08 but was tiring after a half in 46.08 and three pricey firsters ran by her down the stretch: Why Take a Chance (McPeek at 10-1), Harbor Mist (Serpe at 14-1) and Ripley's Gold (Bruce Brown, 9-1).  

Only three of the 27 2-year-old fillies in these three races ran without Lasix -- they included Quiet Ending in the 4th (2nd) and Why Take a Chance ($22.60).

The 5th began the second $100k Guranteed Thursday pick-6 of the meeting. Last week the pool fell just short at $94,722, a $5,278 shortfall made up by the track.


4:05 pm: Here's the late pick-4 play:

It's a spready play that could easily backfire if it's a very Toddy sequence: Class-droppers Rule in the upcoming Birdstone and Estimate in the 9th could simply tower over their opposition at short prices. I leaned more heavily on Rule, and made Estimate one of four equal-strength A's in the 9th. Clearly I find the 8th and 10th very contentious. 


4:45 pm: Rule ($3.20) gutted it out to prevail over 8-1 Sangaree after a long, long duel in the Birdstone.  Question for Godolphin: Why exactly did it take until his 6-year-old year and 22nd career start for Sangaree -- a half-brother to dirt star Congaree -- to be tried on the dirt instead of in synthetic and grass races?


5:45 pm: Annawon wired the field in the 9th for Mott/Castellano to KO my pick-4's and leave only 5 of the 10 in the finale covered in the pick-6. Looks like two live tickets at $35k apiece to the #1 Getinitalltogether, one at $70k each to the 3,4,5 and 7 and a $70k carryover to friday with the 6,8,9,12 and 13. Apparently the pool exceeded the $100k guarantee by roughly $10k.


6:30 pm: Annawon became a bigger ouch as 16-1 Lisa Lewis firster Fast Time came from last to win the finale (as a Pick-4 "A") and complete a $7,913 pick-4.

On the other hand, there's now a $70,287 pick-6 carryover into the Friday card and that could be quite a Whitney Day pool if it manages to carry again until Saturday.

Howie More than 1 year ago
I took one look at the entries for today, and did not place a wager at Saratoga for the first time in over 40 years. The cards will not get better, until the fans show the will power to not bet such crap.....and they won't resist the temptation. I will bet Monmouth on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
jerry More than 1 year ago
Not that I'm a pick-6 player; but I would be suprised if it gets hit today. Think you would really need deep pockets. Thinking the 1 may be well meant in first, not sure if he can beat the 5. Hoping Witch upsets Vee in fifth.
Alex More than 1 year ago
Congrats just for putting up the effort to stop. And congrats as well for putting up a blog where we can discuss horse racing, restaurant reviews, smoke cessation devices, and Steely Dan set-lists.
sparkybus More than 1 year ago
yeah I learned too never go to a show where the audience picks the songs.
broadway billy More than 1 year ago
God , how I love the jumpers! Sheppard is great! have caught all three races and had the double today plus the pick 3. as my buddy says broadway billy is king of the jumpers! rock on crowley with both ends of the double and the 2nd race photo by 1/2 a nose!! yea baby
Dogs Up More than 1 year ago
I was leaving the track the other day, finishing my drink before leaving the grounds, and chucking the wrapper from my hand-held fried food into the trash, while lighting up a victory cigar and visually revisiting the money I had just won. A rather down-on-his luck guy approached me and asked for a $20-spot. I said to him that he would probably just gamble or drink the dough away. He responded that he had never been to a race track, didn't gamble and alcohol was never in his life as a problem, didn't smoke, tried electronic cig once but didn't inhale, and would be buying some organic groceries. He convinced me, and I believed that it was just rough going for him at this time in his life and he needed a push. So, I said to him that I'd give him $50 if he would join me and my best lady that night for dinner. He said how would it look for a guy like him with rather worn clothes, unshaven and smelly to meet my gal. I said, don't worry, I want her to see what happens to someone who doesn't gamble, smoke, eats organic and doesn't drink.
Diceman More than 1 year ago
The Graveyards are full of Folks who thought they know their "Limits" and were 'Invincible." For the record, I haven't eaten a French Fry or "Super'Sized" this year. However, I do love Baked and Mashed Potatoes and Italian Dishes. Hey, I have sinned just like all Humans do. My biggest vices are Casino Gaming and Race Betting. Neither one will kill me nor will I die broke. I never smoked, but I do drink moderately, mostly wine, nor do I ever overeat. I also exercise occassionaly. My Doctor, based on my Medical profile, has predicted I will not die from a Coronary but I will pass on from Old Age! Steve, enjoy your wonderful lifestyle. It's Fun and Profitable and keeps you alive! Diceman
Real1Quiet More than 1 year ago
Good luck kicking the cig-habit SC. Fortunately I've been able to steer clear of those bundles of joy my entire & I frequently have this response for those in disbelief at my (non)smoking-streak: I've yet to meet a person that does smoke cigarettes & says 'Man, you've really got to start smoking cigarettes, you're really missing out'
H Z Hackenbush More than 1 year ago
"Besidescashingtickets" fires off the Line O' The Day.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Ryan (from the last blog): I remember the '80s full well when NYRA ran two jump races, usually as the 4th and 6th on Wednesdays and Thursdays and in the '70s when as I recall there were two jump races on most weekday programs (in the days before NYRA began using what is now the inner turf for regular races). I also remember prior to 1985 when NYRA NEVER carded turf races on Saturdays at Saratoga (save for one grass race on each of a couple of Saturdays in '84), presumably because of tradition. I know it was the pick-six players who were upset about the jump races first and those who now want jump racing ended at the Spa, but the fact is, the jumpers are part of what made Saratoga what it is. As noted before, as part of making the Travers program 15 races with an 11:00 AM first post, one thing I would be doing is making the New York Turf Writers Cup the first race on that program, and that is specifically to give more casual fans an incentive to come early to see the top jump race of the meet (and then 14 regular races, including the Travers starting at 11:35).
Toones More than 1 year ago
Steve, will you be present or part of the Saratoga handicapping contest next Wed and Thurs? [I'll be on the grounds but not involved in the contest. -SC]