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Spa Day 22: 8/15/11
By Steven Crist
3:05 pm: Not still sulking about yesterday, promise, but just settling in after a fairly harrowing drive back to Long Island from the Spa. Missed yesterday's brutal downstate soaking, a month of rain in a day. Saratoga didn't get hit until last night but it got hit pretty hard.
I even wondered if the racing had been cancelled when I heard WFAN's Mike Francesa say "You don't have to worry about Saratoga today" as I was flipping radio channels on the Thruway, but I guess he was opining that the rain-soaked racing wouldn't be an aesthetic delight, not that it had been scrapped, as I see we've already got four races in the books.
Short fields after 40 scratches, off the turf, main track sloppy and sealed, short prices, the usual wet-weather drill. Pick-4's look pretty big (low of $457, high of $18k) for 7-5, 9-2 and 2-1 in the first three legs but i guess 9-2's a relative bomb in a four-horse field.
There's still a Saratoga Special to be run, and I'm fascinated to see how it will be bet. Stat is 7-5 on the morning line off a winning debut but you have to be leery about how the colts who ran second and third to him came back and were both off the board in a maiden race nine days ago. Banner Bill, second longest shot on the line at 6-1, has already won three times as many races as anyone else and twice as much money as his five opponents combined, taking the COlin and Victoria over Polytrack at Woodbine. The Special field has combined to win 8 of 9 career starts, the lone loss being Italo's 23rd-place (that is not a typo) finish in the G2 Coventry at Royal Acot last time out after a winning debut at Longchamps.
3:55 pm: #4 He's a Scrooge, 2-1 second choice at the time for the 6th race, was scratched at the gate and the latch was sprung seconds later. If you used him in the pick-4 or pick-6, you got moved to even-money Roderick, who was making his first start in 11 months and barely lifted a hoof in his return. The two longest shots in the race dueled around the track with Fuhrlang ($28.40) beating 15-1 Controversial.
4:40 pm: With 15 MTP, Stat's the 2-1 favorite for the Special but five of the six (all but the 23rd-place finisher in the Coventry) are 2-1 to 4-1.
5:05 pm: Union Rags ($8.50) dueled with 8-5 Stat until upper stretch, then shook free while greenly veering to the outside en route to a six-length victory in the Saratoga Special. "Just a 2-year-old frolicking in the mud!" was Durkin's apt call, as only the winner seemed to be handling the sloppy track down the stretch and he was widening his margin with every stride despite his wandering course.
Union Rags won his debut at Delaware Park last month rallying from 7th place. The Dixie Union colt from a Gone West mare -- superior wet-track pedigree -- is trained by Michael Matz. He was puchased from a Florida 2-year-old sale last February for $390k by Chadds Ford Stable, but had previously been sold as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sales last August. That's significant because his victory today won him an extra $200,000 -- more than twice the winner's purse for the Special -- for being the first graduate of those sales to win a graded stakes race at Saratoga under a bonus sponsored by NYRA and Fasig-Tipton.
No live tickets in the pick-6. Today's pool was $62k, so after the 16 percent non-carryover-day takeout, and 25 percent of the remainder for consos, looks like there will be a carryover right around $39k into Wednesday. See you then.
e 2010 coming from 7thcourse
They should change the name from Saratoga to "Maiden special Weight Race Course."
Leave The Kids Alone Whose misguided ambition is it to attract young people to horse racing? All horse players die broke. See a young man at the OTB there is a bum inside waiting to get out. Borrow $500? Sure. If you are are lucky, you will be the bank. The chop is too high; the exotics are taken by the sly. Don't waste the afternoon young man. Fix a car or build a shed. How many photos can you stand to lose? Touts on TVG dressed like stockbrokers should leave the kids alone. The shameless. Excuses are: didn't like dirt kicked its face; this race fell apart early; no pace to run into. All BS. Leave it to the codgers and geezers, the 50 cent players.Leave The Kids Alone!
Saratoga should seriously consider changing the inner turf course to Polytrack the best racing right now in America by far is at Del Mar - not marred by the artificial surface whatsoever - Woodbine & Keeneland are close behind - also not affected negatively This would allow Saratoga to move grass races to Polytrack during rainy days (half the season sometimes) - which would have fewer scratches, hence more revenue and more interesting racing overall - I hate rainy NYRA days racing, who doesn't? Racing now has 3 legit surfaces - dirt, turf, artificial - and it would be very cool if Saratoga was the first to have all 3 - and use it during rainy days
I don't which one is, but how can anyone call Saratoga: "the best meet in the world?" I was thinking of playing (if a dry track) on Wednesday. Then, I saw that 6 of the 10 races are MAIDEN RACES.
Good looking hounds. Looks like Junior has adjusted well. I see Dondo's ears can stand up straight which means he has a lot of cartilage in his ears. Speaking about ears, I have to agree with John Perotti's comments from Saturday, August 13th, regarding the first race's photo finish for place. If you look at the photo, the 7's ears are ahead of the 9's and 7's head is lowered, the position to be in for the head bob. Unless we see a photo from the inside, I guess we will never know for sure.
Sorry, but there is no logic at all to not offering a refund in the Pick 4 when your horse is scratched in the first leg. Why should the bettor be stuck with the favorite, especially when many times that bettor will already have the favorite on another ticket? The bettor should get a refund and use the cash to play the Pick 3 on the last three legs if they are so inclined. Also, with today's tote technology, would it really be that difficult to have consolation Pick 4s, just as we do with Pick 3s and Doubles? The whole idea of moving bets on scratched horses to favorites should be done away with whenever reasonably possible.
Steve, a non racing question. How is your mom doing? I took some classes at Columbia with her on faculty. Loved her criticism in NY magazine and on TV. Hope she is doing well. Keep up your good work. I love your newspaper and blog on racing. Your mom must be very proud. You are a chip off the old block. Congrats. [My mom is doing great and will begin her 52nd year of teaching at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism this fall. -SC]
True. It doesn't rain at Del Mar. But my experience in Del Mar in August is overwhelming drab (except for the paddock and the turf course). The sky is predominately grey and the hills beyond the track are burnt brown. Give me green everywhere! (And I'll put up with the occasional rain and occasional heat.) The only place that comes close to Saratoga these days is Keeneland (where there is occasional cold and rain).
To Dave or Divot80, I am sorry to be a moaner but, feeling tetchy tonight (riots on the street, stupid politicians, etc), I cannot let your innocent remark about "the best meet in the World" go unchallenged. We have some great meetings here in the UK, notably Royal Ascot, Goodwood and Newmarket on the flat and Cheltenham over the jumps, the Irish have good racing and even better drinking at several festival meetings and the Arc weekend in Paris is sublime. Add to that the Dubai carnival meeting, great races in Hong Kong and Japan and I'm certain that every single Australian would swear their Melbourne Cup season is the best. I've been to Saratoga twice and greatly enjoyed the racing and socialising both times but, "the best meet" thats a very bold statement.
Steve Tough beat on yesterday's pic-6. Just to show you that one man's agony is another man's ecstasy, the #5 was the start of my $7,000+ Superfecta.(First big hit of the meet!) You had some bad luck with the 6-horse. He either broke slow, or was bumped and as a result, started many lengths behind the pack. I was a little bit surprised, if not shocked at your response on Saturday to Seth Morrow's question on the use of Lasix. Isn't there a happy medium (Of course there is, Casper the friendly ghost---sorry, couldn't resist). If you just ban Lasix from graded stakes races, the small claiming trainer will be unaffected, and tracks will be for the most part unaffected. Small tracks such as Fingerlakes and Suffolk Downs, will be totally unaffected by the change. The upside is that drugged-up sickies such as Shake You Down won't be reproducing, and the breed can't help but become stronger and more durable. In a few years, the breed would be back to its pre-drug strength.
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