08/04/2011 1:54PM

Spa Day 12: 8/4/11

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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.