08/05/2011 12:27PM

Spa Day 13: 8/5/11


1:25 pm: Refund Alert in the opener: All wagers on Scorch The Torch were refunded after replays show he was not given a fair start. The "for purse money only" reclassification of the 16-1 shot didn't drop prices by much and was the right and fair thing to do.

Day 13 features a $70k pick-6 carryover on races 4 through 9, and the question I'm grappling with at the moment is whether to take a shot today or sit it out and root for a double-carryover into Whitney Day. Th drawback to today's sequence is the finale, a fairly rare case of NYRA's bowing to the popular trend of putting firster-filled races as the nightcap to try to induce carryovers. Seven of the 10 entrants are firsters. It could easily have been run early in the day or even switched with the sixth race, a maiden-claimer with no firsters. That wouldn't have helped with the pick-6 but would have given pick-4 players a look at the board before betting that sequence.

On the other hand, the Whitney card looks awfully tough at first glance, including the highly competitive Whitney itself. Exactly how many horses would you feel comfortable going with in that spot on an affordable pick-6 play? I've only got the field of 11 down to 8 so far, but there's another 24 hours to whittle.


1:50 pm: Tony Dutrow is off to some start at Saratoga -- six starters, four winners and two seconds. Winner #4 was 2-year-old filly firster Singlet ($14.00), up in the final strides to nail Alydarla in the 2nd here. His other winners at the meet have been Happy Bull, Ohbabyobeyme and Jimmy Symms. His two seconds came in stakes races, with Real Feelings in the Schuylerville and Legally Blanca in the Smart and Fancy.

Grappling over. Can't play the pick-6 today. Will opt instead for a loosey-goosey pick-4 play later on.


2:50 pm: My Due Process ($10.00), Roman-trained Henny Hughes filly who raced three times at CD, won off by herself in the first leg of the carryover as the firsters came up duds, including Coral Glade, last at 3-1 for Pletcher.

One race earlier, trainer Bill Mott ran 1-2 in the Madame Jumel Stakes for older fillies who had not wona graded race last year or this year. Arena Elvira ($5.70, owned by Carolyn Wilson, scored by 1 1/4 lengths over 6-1 Acronym, owned by Juddmonte. Nice mid-race Durkinism regarding eventual fifth-place finisher Bubble Gum, who was racing on the inside: "Bubble Gum is stuck to the rail."


3:30 pm: The 5th, an N2L turfer for older $35k filly claimers, went to front-runner Ratoath Special ($14.00) after Albarado lulled his pursuers to sleep through an opening six furlongs in 1:15.39. The winner's name refers not to an oath among rodents but to the tiny Irish town that is home to Fairyhouse racecourse, home of the Irish Grand National.


3:40 pm: A little 50-cent LP4 action:


4:00 pm: Mr. Ames ($11.60) just got up at the wire to nose out a tiring Rocky Fortune for trainer Rick Schosberg, now 3 for 10 at the meet.

And in the Department of Dogs and Cats Living Together: Starting today, after decades of division, you can bet any New York harness track at NYRA's thoroughbred tracks and through NYRA Rewards.

"“Opening harness racing to more fans is a common-sense move that will increase handle and continue to help tracks across the state make up for revenue lost when New YorkCity OTB closed,” said State Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini.

There's got to be a catch, right? This sounds way too sensible and good for everyone.


4:40 pm: Sanagas ($13.80), Motion-trained German import adding blinkers in his second U.S. start after a nightmare trip last time out, rallied late and wide to win the John's Call over Center Divider, Bold Hawk and favored Simmard. Second choice Bearpath, runner-up in last summer' G1 Sword Dancer, threw his rider early when he appeared to take a bad step and was vanned off after the 13-furlong turf race.

Only used Sanagas because I tried him without success in his last race at Arlington. That was the day of the Modesty (where our old friend Fantasia won and paid $9.80 in a spot where she should have paid $5.80). That began a pick-3 through the American Derby and Arlington Handicap, where I tried to get Sanagas to beat favored Tajaaweed, but Sanagas was in traffic and veering in and out. Seemed like the experience and blinkers (which he got today) might really help, and while I didn't know if he was good enough in today's tougher field, I had to include him.


4:55 pm: Today was "Rivalry Day" at Saratoga, the rivalry in question being the Red Sox and Yankees, who I guess are playing tonight or something. (I'm a National League guy and am focussed on the Giants-Phillies series.) Oil Can Boyd and Mickey Rivers were on hand for various festivities, and there was an attempted crowd singalong of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" after the 7th inning/race. This led me to look up the lyrics and discover that what we think of as a self-contained national anthem of baseball is merely the chorus to a much weirder 1908 song about a compulsive baseball fan named Katie. The complete version:

Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do":

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."


5:15 pm: Runaway Jim ($10.00) kept the pick-4 play alive -- runner-up 9-5 Seattle Mission would have ruined it -- so alive for a 50-cent piece to six of them in the finale. Only two of the 10 are covered in the pick-6: Current co-faves Little Dale (two tix at $107k each) and Skorton (one pool-scoop at $215k). None of the seven firsters or Freudian Therapist is covered, so it's a $215k carryover if one of them wins.

Seattle Mission has now lost eight straight races at 2-1 or less, with five seconds, two thirds and a fourth during that stretch.


5:45 pm: Little Dale outsprinted them early but bore out badly and tired late as a handsome gray firster named Sportswriter -- outstanding name for a racehorse, in my totally unbiased opinion -- ran him down at the wire, paying $14.40 to win, completing a $5,649 late pick-4 ($1412.25 for those of us in the 50-cent seats) today, and giving us all a $215k carryover to chase on Whitney Day.