08/08/2011 11:39AM

Spa Day 16: 8/8/11


12:40 pm: The upcoming Gleaming Stakes is the only one of today's five scheduled grass races left on the turf. Races 4,7,8 and 10 are now all going to be run on the main track, with the two 5.5f races staying at that distance and the one-mile races cut back to 7f.

The rule for distance changes on off-the-turfers are 1)5.5f races always stay the same; 2)8f races always go to 7f; 8.5f races go to 9.0 EXCEPT for 2-year-old races, which cut back from 8.5f to 7f.

It's getting a little misty outside so perhaps the 7th was taken off the turf this morning (4, 8 and 10 were taken off yesterday) because of today's local forecast, inaccurate as these have been the last few days:

There's a $69,444 carryover from yesterday. I still haven't digested the 24 scratches in the sequence but might take a shot if it's manageable.

Had a rare social outing last night attending a fundraiser for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at the City Center. Hats off to Darley Stud for donating a season to Medaglia d'Oro, which was auctioned off for $120,000. 


1:10 pm: It began to pour here about 15 minutes ago, a good old-fashioned Saratoga soaker, and the 1st was run in rain under dark gray skies -- a Gleaming in the gloaming.

Seal Cove ($6.50) won the Gleaming, which was for 3-year-olds who had not won a graded stakes at over a mile on the turf. Seal Cove, a 3-year-old Strong Hope colt bred and owned by Stuart Janney and trained by Shug McGaughey, has now won three of four career starts and is 3 for 3 on the turf. Time for the race was 2:01.75 -- and that's for 9.5f, not 10f. Guess the turf, listed as "firm" as the day began, isn't.

Main track downgraded to muddy and sealed for the upcoming nine dirt races.

Here's something you don't see very often: A Gary Sciacca firster (saratoga Snacks) just opened as the even-money favorite for the 2nd, a five-furlong statebred baby race, with a Todd Pletcher firster (Bay Park Boy) at 5-2.


1:45 pm: The early betting was right that Saratoga Snacks (eventually drifted to 5-2) has some ability, but Bay Park Boy ($5.20) had more, giving Pletcher his 20th winner of the meeting on Day 16.

Sun's out again.

And speaking of hats-off for horse-retirement generosity, huzzahs to Sackatoga Stable (the Funny Cide folks), which announced today it will donate $10,000 to Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement for each yearling it buys at the Fasig-Tipton sales that start tonight.

"These donations will guarantee a lifetime spot of Old Friends for each yearling when their racing careers are over," said Sackatoga's Jack Knowlton.


2:55 pm: Okay, if you insist, I'll play it:

Well, at least I'll be alive after one leg. If it's not Empress of Gold, it could be anyone. If the seventh tim'es the charm for her, I'll be in reasonable shape; otherwise, I'll be skinnied down to a 2x2x3x2x1. I just don't see another place to take a stand.


3:25 pm: No excuses for Empress of Gold, beaten a long neck at 8-5 by 12-1 Queen of King St.

EOG sat second the entire trip just off QOKS, looked poised to go by her in upper stretch, but could never get to or by her even though the winner was stretching out to 9f in just her second career start and had been off since a 6f debut in March. Good news: QOKS paid $27.20 as the longest shot in the field. Worse news: Thinned down to all A's the rest of the way: 3,7/12,13/1,5,8/3,9/14.

Queen of King St. is trained by Ralph Nicks, always a dangerous guy at Saratoga, but I made the mistake of looking up his record in races of 9f or longer: Over the last five years, he was 3 for 56. Now he's 4 for 57. Damn statistics.


3:55 pm: Did I say 3 and 7 in the second leg? I must have meant the 1a. Or the 4. Or the 5. Or the 2 or the 8, all of whom finished in front of my 2-1 co-favorites. The winner was Finger Lakes shipper Toque ($11.80). 

On to the pick-4. I'll pretty much play the bottom two-thirds of the pick-6 play above.

The muddy sealed track is now being harrowed before the 7th race. 


4:38 pm: Siggi the Alien shook off Backlash early and held off Keep it a Secret late to score the third straight upset in a Pick-6 that's looking increasingly like a double-carryover into Wednesday. The first three winners in the sequence have paid $27.20 (6th choice), $11.80 (third choice) and $28.40 (sixth choice). 


5:40 pm: All but four runners in the finale covered in the pick-6 -- 1 ($232k) to 3 ($77k) live tickets on the others. If you want a $232,356 double-carry into Wednesday, root for the 3, 6, 10 or 12.


6:13 pm: If you rotted for a carryover...it worked? Red Leader held off Jiminator by a head to give us a $232.356 carryover into Wednesday's card. Red Leader was the 5th choice in the betting but not one of the five covered horses in the pick-6.

I'm not even going to peek until tomorrow night. Dark days are rare and treasured things up here, and tomorrow it's time for the hounds to see some Saratoga landmarks. They've been resting up: