08/20/2011 12:55PM

Spa Day 26: 8/20/11



1:50 pm: Here's a handicapping question that doesn't come up too often: What do you do with a dual Grade 1-placed 5-year-old dropping into a statebred preliminary allowance race off a three-year layoff?

That was the question surrounding Cribnote in today's Saratoga opener. The Read the Footnotes gelding was making his first start since running second to Vineyard Haven in the 2008 Hopeful and Champagne Those efforts would have drowned today's New York-bred N1x rivals but the layoff scared away enough bettors that he was the 3-1 third choice in a strangely-bet race -- strange because if Cribnote wasn't going to be favored, I was sure that Green Monster would. For some reason, however, Crea's Law (lifetime top BSF of 72, lower than any of Green Monster's last five dirt races) went off the 5-2 favorite.

Cribnote, who had issues with bearing out before he went to the sidelines three years ago, was a reasonable third to Green Monster ($8.20) and the surprising 10-1 Ground Force. It was hearetning to see him on the track at all, and good for his connections for their patience in bringing him back. Too soon to tell if he'll get back to where he was in 2008, but you've got to start somewhere.

The second race continued the pattern of 2-year-old turf routes going to longshots as 22-1 Finger Lakes shipper Fox Rules ran down 11-1 Unbridled Command. I tossed him in on the theory that The Finger's top trainer and jockey (Ferraro/Grabowski) thought he'd improve vastly on his bad FL dirt debut to bother shipping him over here, and thus am alive in pick-4 that might pay for the bigger pick-6 investment later on today. The live tickets for the rest of the early pick-4 are:

3,10/3,4,6/4,6,8,14 for $1

1,2,9/3,4,6/4,6,14 for $0.50


2:40 pm: You can find a bunch of stuff about today's featured Alabama Stakes here today -- http://www.drf.com/events/saratoga-alabama-stakes -- including my longwinded explanation of why I'm giving Royal Delta a chance to upset It's Tricky and Plum Pretty.

I'll post my pick-6 play shortly before the sequence begins at 3:35 pm and it's going to be very shortly before it begins. The first leg is a 12-horse 2yo maiden race with eight firsters and it's going to take some intense board-watching for me to know how to stack them as A's B's and C's. The carryover is $219k heading into today and track officials are expecting fresh handle in the $1 million neighborhood, which would mean a front-end payout of over $700k.

Heavy favorites One Way to Rock ($4.10) and Running Tap ($3.00) romped in the 3rd and 4th so those pick-4's aren't as sexy as the initial $47.20 winner suggested they might be. At least I've got them for $2 instead of $1 due to the gate scratch of #6 Take a Walk in the 4th. That scratch also cancelled the trifecta in the 4th so all tri bets are refunds. This is a really dopey and counterproductive rule that NYRA and the SRWB should get around to fixing. If a six-horse field scratches to five at the gate, why in the world should the trifecta be cancelled? 


3:20 pm: 15 minutes to post for the pick-6. Here goes:


3:45 pm: Feh. I probably should have made B Shanny a B instead of a C the way he was being bet, but I just couldn't take a loser against statebreds -- in a debut that could have been timed with a sundial -- moving into open company in what seemed to be a loaded maiden race. Yes B Shanny had some traffic problems and was 4-5 on July 14 at Belmont, but he earned a Beyer of 36 in a race where one of those Funky Munky statebred maiden-50's would have aired.

Pletcher firster El Padrino, bet to 2-1, was gobbling up ground late but couldn't quite get to the gate-to-wire winner, while Grandpa Len settled for third after checking at the inside and Asmussen firster Tritap was up for fourth.


4:15 pm: Not my day. Never considered using Tapaway, claimed from Asmussen by Maker at CD last month. Guess there's a reason Maker is 30 percent off the claim and 30 percent with blinkers on, both at positive ROI's. Tapaway was the fifth choice in a field of 10, paying $14.40.

feels like B shanny and Tapaway were more than 6-1 in the multirace bets -- the smallest pick-3's begining with them are paying $690 and $880 with everything else over $1k. If you're alive in the pick-6, you may be in even better shape than you think.

On to the pick-4 for the knocked-out likes of me.


4:55 pm: A little late for me to be getting an A home at 9-1 but Chad Brown firster Fantastic Song just stormed home to nail Animal Spirits by a lip in the 8th. Good start to the late pick-4 I guess.

Here's the great thing about all that good inside info some people think is floating around the racetrack. Halfd an hour before the race I got the following text from a horseplayer who is friendly with the winning trainer: "For what it's worth, Chad is not a fan of his horse in the 8th." 

If B Shanny and Tapaway were more than their 7-1 win odds in the pick-6, I suspect Fantastic Song -- with an impeccable turf pedigree from an excellent first-out trainer -- was a lot less than 9-1.


5:05 pm: Before you get too excited about the prospect of a triple carryover, be forewarned that tomorrow's sequence is not only a firster-fest but also arranged in a pretty unfriendly way with none of the 2-year-old races carded as the first leg. The second leg (race 6) has 8 firsters in a field of 10; the third leg has 4 firsters in a field of 8, and 8 of the 10 in the body of the finale will be making their debuts. And the Lake Placid was moved up to the 4th race because the sequence would have been "too easy" if it had been properly carded as the 9th?

Tomorrow's first race, with 10 in the body and four AE's, every one of them with 3 to 15 starts, was should have been part of the pick-6 and late pick-4 sequence instead of one of the firster-filled races. This is just inexcusable.


5:15 pm: A little late for me to be getting home singles but I guess everyone was a fan of Chad's horse in the 9th, as La Reine Lionne was a daylight winner at $5.10.


5:35 pm: Inglorious, 6-1 ML opened at even money for the Alabama and is still 6-5 with 11 MTP and over $350k in the win pool..


5:45 pm: Inglorious ice-cold in the late betting, up to 2-1 as they head to the gate.


5:55 pm: Now THAT's the real Royal Delta.

Allowed to go off as the second longest shot in the field, Royal Delta ($13.00) showed she needed a race last time out when a dull third in the CCA Oaks by rebounding to win the Alabama by 5 1/2 widening lengths over It's Tricky. Inglorious, who drifted to going off as the second choice behind the runner-up, showed nothing and finished dead last after the bizarre early betting on her.

Inglorious is 5 for 5 on Polytrack in Canada and now 0 for 3 in the U.S. and on dirt. Why she was nearly favored to win this race may remain a mystery for the ages.

It's probably going to take another race or two to settle the 3-year-old filly championship. The Alabama was a definitive victory but Royal Delta's first Grade 1 while It's Tricky -- with whom she has split two decisions -- has G1 triumphs in the Acorn and CCA Oaks.

Looks like 6 of the 10 in the finale are covered in the pick-6, ranging from 8 winners with the #1 at $91k to 1 winner with the #5 and #8 and $735k. The four to root for if you want a $735k carryover -- and I'm really not sure that I do -- are the 4,9,10 and 11.


6:19 pm: Guns and Religion, most plausible of the four carryover-producers, scratched with 3 MTP.


6:35 pm: Irad Ortiz Jr., who has made an excellent impression riding as an apprentice at this meet, got Midnight Billy ($10.40) up in the last stride to reward two pick-6 tickets to the tune of $366k.

Don't forget to tune in early tomorrow if you want to see Winter Memories vs. six other stakes-winners in the G2 Lake Placid -- it goes as the 4th, scheduled for 2:39 p.m.