08/22/2011 11:49AM

Spa Day 28: 8/22/11



12:50 pm: It's a beautiful Day 28 at Saratoga, but while last night's heavy rains blew out the humidity they also knocked all of today's grass races except the 1st off the turf. Races 2,3,6 and 10 will be run on the main track on a 10-race card that now has fields of 4,8,6,6,7,6,7,9,7 and 8 scheduled to race.

The upcoming first apparently stayed on the grass only because four were willing to run, including two uncoupled Chad Brown trainees, while there would have been only three left had it been switched to the dirt.

Main track, sealed overnight, is officially fast and the grass is labelled soft for the opener. Can't find anything to bet on or against among the quartet in the first, so I'll just set an over/under of 1:47, which would be 7 1/5 seconds off the course record, for the time of the 1 1/16-mile race, which has been switched from the Inner to the Mellon course.


1:10 pm: And the winner was....the over! Wilkinson ($12.60), longest shot in a field of four, outfinished 3-4 favorite Asphalt to win the opener in 1:47.85 over the soft Mellon course.


2:45 pm: Despite the Odds ($6.00), 4th in the 2009 King's Bishop, bottomed out the field with strong early fractions to lead from gate to wire in the 4th, an N3x allowance that was probably the highest-quality race on the card. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown shot to the lead from the rail, ran an exceptionally sharp second quarter to extend his lead through fractions of 22.50 and 44.68, then held off slow-starting Flat Bold through seven furlongs in 1:22.79.

Despite the Odds had lost 12 straight starts over 25 months since winning the off-the-turf 2009 Hill Prince.


3:30 pm: Lovely Lil ($3.80) sat behind the early leaders under supremely confident handling from Ramon Dominguez, who let her run just enough to win the Union Avenue Stakes in 1:10.59. The 4-year-old Barry Schwartz homebred by Tiznow has now won four of eight career starts but this was her first stakes victory.

Lovely Lil completed a $157 early pick-4.


3:40 pm: Here's what the Grade 1 scorecard looks like at the halfway point -- 8 down, 8 to go, starting with three on Saturday:


According to a NYRA press release, here's how Saturday's three Grade 1's are shaping up:

"The field for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Travers is beginning to gel, with Bowman’s Causeway, Coil, J W Blue, Moonshine Mullin, Raison d’Etat, Rattlesnake Bridge, Ruler On Ice, Shackleford, and Stay Thirsty listed as probable by NYRA Stakes Coordinator Andrew Byrnes. Malibu Glow and Prayer for Relief are possible for the race.

The Foxwoods King’s Bishop is expected to draw Caleb’s Posse, Cool Blue Red Hot, Dominus, Flashpoint, Justin Phillip, Poseidon’s Warrior, Runflatout and Uncle Mo. Possible for the race are Bold Warrior, J J’s Lucky Train, and Wine Police.

The Grade 1 Ballerina is likely to attract Bronx City Girl, Devil by Design, Hilda’s Passion, Sassy Image, and Tamarind Hall."


4:05 pm: Just to have a little something to root for the rest of the day:


4:40 pm: American Angel ($12.00) came off the rail in the stretch to run down World Harmony and win the 7th. The Allen Jerkens traineee is the second winner of the meet produced by Society Selection, the 2004 Test and Alabama winner (for Jerkens), who was sold to Coolmore last November for $1.85 million.

World Harmony was co-favored at 8-5 with Vivere, a Claiborne second-timer who was hammered in the late betting but proved hard to handle early and then raced very wide into the turn.


5:15 pm: Rick Dutrow trainee Networking ($7.70) just keeps winning by daylight regardless of venue or claiming tag. In her last three starts she has won by 5 1/2 a $50,000 maiden-claiming tag at Belmont May 27; by 6 3/4 lengths with a $7,500 for-sale sign at Parx July 19, and just won by 5 1/2 for a $15,000 tag in the 8th at Saratoga.  

Favored Stanford Dolly was off last, made a middle move into contention and faded late.


5:45 pm: Al Muhtasib, first-time for a tag, was too good for his six N2x/Oc $50k opponents and drew off after dueling with Westrock to win the 9th for McLaughlin/Garcia.

All eight in the last-call 10th are covered in the pick-6: it's paying $739 to favored Orsonian and $30k to outsider Trinity Warrior. Pick-4's aren't too bad, including $307 to the favorite.


5:55 pm: Networking was claimed for $15k from Dutrow by Ken Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker. Al Muhtasib was claimed from McLaughlin for $50,000 by owner/trainer Merrill Scherer.


6:15 pm: Orsonian ($4.10) completed the chalkfest, the $307.50 Pick-4, the $739 Pick-6 and The fifth week of the Spa. Racing resumes Wednesday, as will I.