08/15/2011 2:10PM

Spa Day 22: 8/15/11


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