08/12/2011 2:04PM

Spa Day 19: 8/12/11



2:00 pm: This morning's Hall of Fame ceremonies were relatively brief, pleasant, and available via live streaming over the Internet. That's a winning trifecta for a sometimes endless ceremony where several people accepting awards for horses instead recite their own autobiographies. If you bet the Under on that you won -- only one such offender today. 

Restaurant Review time: Last night Mrs. Blog and I walked over to The Turf Club, the newest name for the joint on the corner of Nelson and Union that has done business in the past as The Union Coach House and The Springwater. Last year it had devolved into a "pub food" place serving inedible pizza and burgers, but I had been somewhat reliably informed that there was a new menu and a new chef worth checking out this year.

The good news is that it remains a pleasant place to enjoy a meal or mingle with racetrackers at the bar, and the food is indeed a lot better than it was in 2010. If you're stuck near the track and want an acceptable, slightly fou-fou (Cabernet vinaigrettes and talk of "emulsions") meal in the neighborhood, you won't go too far wrong, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there again.

Recommended: The smoked-salmon with grilled vegetables; the sweet-potato fries, and the fresh corn.

You could do worse: The Colossal Crab Gratin. 

Not-so-recommended: The bone-dry "Pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi Nuggets" with mango salsa.

Overall Grade: B.

Speaking of food, has anyone actually eaten one of those Deep-Fried Sticks o'Butter that are reportedly all the rage at state fairs this summer? I did Deep-Fried Twinkies at the fair last year and lived to tell the tale, but a whole stick of butter? Seriously? Makes me think I'm having the diet plate when I order a fried-chicken sandwich.

And yes, I'm playing today's pick-6 with a one-day $82k carryover. Looking to put in $1000 to $1500. Tickets to follow before the scheduled 2:40 pm kickoff.


2:15 pm: Was hoping for some help from the toteboard here in leg 1, race 4, for older statebred maiden fillies at 7f. There are a couple who have run so-so races (though below par for this level), and three firsters from good outfits (Benzel, McGaughey, McLaughlin) who don't have to be worldbeaters to win here. Was hoping one or two of the firsters would open as strong favorites but instead all five of those horses are currently 3-1, 7-2 or 4-1. Going to wait a while longer and then take my best guess.


2:33 pm: In case I can't get the graphic made in time, I'm starting out A: 3,4,6; B: 2,5; C: 1,7. Can't die after the first leg.


2:39 pm: Here it is:


2:55 pm: That was a lot of work to get home a $7.40 favorite (Senora Dubai) but at least I wasn't stubborn enough to make all three firsters my A's. That's one of those things I've learned over the years: In a race like this, always use the best of the ones who have run as an "A." And it's not like I handicapped the firsters particularly well: I made two of them A's and the one I relegated to B status -- Moll's Alley, when she drifted to 6-1 -- ran by far the best of that trio, leading until upper stretch after setting strong fractions in a 7f debut.

It's important to stay on the A train as long as possible with this play because it's a "C-heavy" investment. I saw a lot of interesting marginal contenders I wanted to include somewhere while keeping the total tickets under $1500 (they clocked in at $1408.) So let's go Ms. Stiletto or Settling Seas in race 5.


3:51 pm: Unlike Uncle Sam, it's AAA so far, and I think 4-1 on Rothko was a gift. I saw the 6th race as a two-horse race between Rothko and Soul Town and have no idea how Show Me The Way was 2-1 off a pair of 74 Beyers against Soul Town's debut 96 (albeit on Poly) and Rothko's debut 88. Someone's betting the horsehide off these Terranova horses (see Cat Sweep on Wednesday, who opened 4-1 in a race where he figured 20-1.)


4:30 pm: Ooof. AAAX. Just didn't think Big Blue Kitten ($11.00) had beaten anything while winning four in a row in maiden-claiming, claiming, starter-allowance and N1x company. Not like I was close: my four live horses ran 3-4-5-7 in a seven-horse field, with my B 5th and my A 7th.


5:10 pm: Nobody knew what to do in today's 8th race -- 8 of the 10 horses opened between 4-1 and 8-1, and even a moderate-looking order of finish yielded surprisingly high intrarace payoffs: 5-1 Bearpath over 6-1 Count Catamount came back $156, and adding 5-2 favorite Retire to What for third blew up the trifecta to $709. When's the last time you saw $709 for a 5-1/6-1/5-2 tri?

All but 3 seemingly hopeless longshots are covered in the finale for pick-6's ranging from $16k and $23k on favorites English Ivy and Hoop Skirt to $304k pool-scoops on Roca Del Norte and Dean Avenue. If you'd prefer a $304k carryover into Sword Dancer day, you've got to find a way to make the 2 (Haunted Melody), 4 (Labellelavita) or 6 (Stella Di Sicilia) win the nightcap. That's going to take some doing.


5:45 pm: Eight days ago, Lisa Lewis sent out a William Schettine homebred firster to win its debut in a $25k maiden claimer in the nightcap when Fast Time scored at 16-1.

Eight minutes ago, Lisa Lewis sent out a William Schettine homebred firster to win its debut in a $25k maiden claimer in the nightcap when Ginger J scored at 7-1.

Ginger J completed a $60,981 pick-6 that had five winners and a $3,697 pick-4.

The forecast is for nothing but sunshine here tomorrow but if you're thinking of playing the Secretariat, Beverly D or Arlington Million tomorrow, check the course condition -- they're calling for t-storms in that neck of Illinois.