08/27/2011 11:25AM

Spa Day 32: 8/27/11


11:30 am: Hoping to be on the Thruway before noon and back on Long Island in time for the Grade 1's. Here are my horse-by horse comments and selections for the five graded stakes on today's Travers card. If I'm not sitting on a closed bridge somewhere, I'll be back to kibbitz the end of the card. Have a good one.


4:35 pm: Didn't get on the road until 12:45 but made it to the front door in a personal-best 3:30 as few others were driving towards the looming storm. Already $6 ahead for the day: No tolls on the Whitestone Bridge to speed up the coastal evacuation.

Blew the early pick-4 despite picking the $17 Mclaughlin firster by playing against Daddy Nose Best. Alice in the pick-6 (Daveron was a B, Hot Summer an A).  I've got 3,7/1,7/4,7,9/1,8 the rest of the way.

Looks like it's still sunny at the Spa. It's dark gray here on Long Island, the air is heavy, and the drastic rain's supposed to start by nightfall.


4:50 pm: Big performance by Hilda's Passion ($7.10) rebounding from her Bed O'Roses stinker to win the Ballerina by a pole, but she got two big assists: Tar Heel Mom, who might have pressed her early, stumbled at the start and never got near her while recovering to run second, and the 3-2 favorite Sassy Image was away very slowly and then bolted on the turn.  Don't think Sassy was going to catch a loose Hilda (half in a mild 45.43) in any case, but we'll never know.

On to the King's Bishop where Uncle Mo, 9-5 on the ML, opened at a more plausible 3-5.


5:05 pm: The NBC coverage of the King's Bishop and Travers is currently being pre-empted in NYC by Hurricane Irene coverage.



5:15 pm: Wish Uncle Mo had held off Caleb's Posse, but getting beaten a nose in a Grade 1 race off a 4 1/2 month layoff in 1:21.59 -- three lengths faster than Hilda's Passion's Ballerina runaway -- was no disgrace. Where does he go from here? The initial plan was Pennsylvania Derby and then Breeders' Cup Classic.


5:25 pm: Coil opened as the 2-1 favorite for the Travers over Stay Thirsty at 3-1 and Shackleford at 9-2, but Stay Thirsty ($1,453) is the pick-4 favorite vs. Coil ($1,849) and Shackleford ($1.953). Next come Raison d'Etat (10-1 5th choice in win pool but fourth choice in pick-4 at $3,461) and Ruler On Ice (fourth win-pool choice at 6-1, fifth pick-4 choice at $4,031.)


5:35 pm: Looks like the track was faster for the day's first two races than the rest of the card -- don't think 50-1 Pretty Boy Freud's N1x victory in the opener over familiar faces Mineswept and Shrewd One in 1:22.15 was really in the same ballpark as the Ballerina. Nevertheless, the 2nd race victory by 2-year-old Kimmel firster Fire On Ice looks like a huge effort. The Unbridled's Song colt won by 10 3/4 lengths in 1:09.67.


6:00 pm: I spent the first half-mile of the Travers thinking "What is Castellano doing sending Stay Thirsty to the lead and dueling with Shackleford?" Guess he knew what he was doing as Stay Thirsty outdueled the front-running Preakness winner to the top of the stretch and had enough left to hold off an erratic Rattlesnake Bridge and 32-1 JW Blue to win the Travers.

Interesting that none of the top three finishers from the Haskell ran 1-2-3. Ruler on Ice was 4th.

The final time of 2:03.13, and the winner's tiring final quarter were not pretty, but as usual the Travers was the only dirt route of the day. I really wish they'd run a 9f race or two on the Travers card.

Today's victories by Caleb's Posse and Stay Thirsty makes it 12 different 3-year-olds that have won the 12 Grade 1 races for 3-year-olds so far this year. (Dialed In, Toby's Corner, Midnight Interlude, Brilliant Speed, Archarcharch, Animal Kingsom, Shackleford, Ruler on Ice, Coil, Treasure Beach, Caleb's Posse, Stay Thirsty.)

I guess Stay Thirsty assumes the leadership of the division off his G3 Gotham, G2 Jim Dandy and G1 Travers triumphs, but it would be nice if someone made an impact against the older horses this fall.


6:06 pm: It was just announced that Sunday's racing at Saratoga has been cancelled. The Personal Ensign will be run next Saturday on what is now a triple Grade 1 card along with the Woodward and Forego.


6:28 pm: Cincinnati Kid, who we needed for a $30k rather than $9k pick-6 back on Aug. 10, won the finale to complete a $51,316 Travers Day pick-6 that obviously would have paid a lot less had Uncle Mo won. But still.

Everyone from Pimlico to Rockingham be smart and stay safe until racing presumably resumes Monday, okay?




Christine More than 1 year ago
Safety wishes to the Blog Family...hoping all is well with tu' casa and expected nothing less than your personal best while driving back to catch the race....and impressed with (but expect nothing less than your integrity/not leaving Andy high and dry (no pun intended) before Irene prep. No one has mentioned the horses reaction to this....even if out of the mainline-the Spa sure to get their dose worth and nothin but fire spooks a horse like the howling winds. May ALL be safe.....BTW- I was not with it today but SUPERB handicapping today Mr. C....sizzle :>
NancyP More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, I always enjoy reading your column. I have some questions about the Travers and the Kings Bishop. But first, I'd like to congratulate Stay Thirsty and Caleb's Posse, they ran good honest races. However, my favorites didn't quite make it - Shackleford and Uncle Mo. There-in are the questions I would like your opinion on. First, my thought is that Shackleford was tired given his busy season so far. He didn't fight to hold the lead and that is not like him, he fell so far behind. Also, I think breaking from the last post and his jockey's rush to get the inner lanes and lead cost him a lot of energy. I think he would have been able to do 1-1/4 if he had been placed 2nd or 3rd behind the leader until the turn for home. I think Uncle Mo did a great job given his 4.5 month layoff and losing a shoe at the start. He, Animal Kingdom and Shackleford are the best 3yr olds in my humble opinion. What I'd like your point of view on is this wacky idea that Repole put out immediately following the race that it probably would be UM's last race. If he comes out of it healthy why is it the last race for him??? At that point they did not know if a health issue had cropped up! My suspicion is that someone offered Repole a lot of money for Uncle Mo to go to the breeding shed! Or, he really wasn't healthy a enough to enter the Kings Bishop. Your thoughts please. Thanks! [I think Repole was waxing philosophical, not threatening retirement. If I said, "Who knows, maybe I'll be alive in 30 years, maybe I'll be dead tomorrow," I'm not really saying suicide is on my agenda. Fortunately, Repole is a lot wealthier than the typical horse owner so there's no rush to get the money that comes with retiring him to stud. -SC]
Steve More than 1 year ago
I guess there are different ways to take what Mr. Repole said right after the Race. I have talked to Mr. Repole on two different occasions and he talks of his horses as I would my kids. I believe he has whats good for the horse first, then good for Nyra second, and then whats good for himself last.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
For those who complained about NBC stations up and down the eastern seaboard pre-empting the Travers: ALL of the network affiliates and O & Os basically blew out ALL scheduled programming for wall-to-wall coverage of Irene. The last thing a local station needs to is to not pre-empt when people are looking for storm coverage and another station then looking to use that against the station that "does the right thing" for people in this case who want to see the Travers. Since Comcast owns NBC, what should have been looked at where possible was to air NBC's coverage on one of it's owned regional networks (CSN or The Comcast Network) if the NBC station locally was not airing the Travers due to Irene... And speaking of Saratoga, major kudos to NYRA. In spite of losing anywhere from 8-20,000 due to Irene, they still managed to get 43,000 on a day I felt they would have been lucky to get 25,000 given what was coming. While some of that could have been people who had to evacuate anyway and just decided to make the trip north, I suspect we would have had close to 60,000 had we not had the threat of Irene, which likely severely distracted some, and for good reason.
Diceman More than 1 year ago
Hi djr, Thanks for your interest in the Diceman's Handicapping Math System. The Math System is my personal creation. I have played the races for the past 50 years. I have never revealed the entire system to anyone, including my 3 active sons... The Math System is my Gambling Legacy to my 3 Sons. I will instruct them on the System soon and prior to my departure from Planet Earth. Allow me to share a limited portion of Math System's basic factors with you and others. The DRF is the basic tool. I carefully review 4 out of 5 Running Lines, if available, don't hesitate to drawn a line thru a race inconsistent with the Horses's performance record. I use 6 Factors from each selected running line. The Factors become obvious if you study the DRF. I assigne 4 Points to each Factor for a total of 24 Points. Unfortunatey, several of my recent blogs incorrectly mention 28 Points as the Maximum. It's 24 pOINTS. Using the Math System on a Dry Fast Track and Firm Grass Course, the System produced productive results on yesterday's SAR Card... It's true, I cannot and will not reveal my Math Syste,. Howevder as courtesy to my Professional Handicapping Friends, I will use the Blog and list my selections for key races this Fall, including Belmont's, CD, KEE a\nd the Breeders Cup Weekend. Good Luck, Always!
George Szary More than 1 year ago
Am I the only person totally fed up, and disgusted by Pletcher? I still remember when trainers trained horses instead of being CEO's who gave meaningless sound bites and prevailed on the strength of sheer numbers. I watch this drip's horses running like this off no conditioning (at least as great horsemen like Jerkens, Stephens, Burch, etc. understand/understood conditioning)... In addition to getting rid of race day medications and reducing the number of racing days, there must be something done to see that these guys are limited in the number of horses they control by limiting stable size at race meets. Horses racing 4 or 5 times a year and ducking and weaving real competition is simply bad for the sport.
John More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure about the Stay Thirsty takes control of the Division headline. Sure he is a developing colt who has found his best form but the top 3 year old this year? His final quarter in the Travers left a lot to be desired and his 101 Beyer is proof that his race was ordinary. Earlier this year he was soundly beaten in the Derby by Animal Kingdom and before that pounded by Shackleford. While it tough to win a title on the sidelines that fact remains Animal Kingdom is still the best of this years crop. For Stay Thirsty to overtake him he is going to have to have an impact in the Breeder's Cup. Animal Kingdom was knocked out of the races though no fault of his own and won the race everyone wants to win and was clearly the colt with the most upside as the year went on.
Mike R. More than 1 year ago
That was an awfully slow running of the Travers. I don't see any of these 3 yr. olds challenging older horses in the Fall. Even Uncle Mo will be up against it if connections decide to run him against older horses in the BC Classic. Hope UM wins next race routing and heads to Classic w/a bit of hype. Players will like that kind of situation. Mike Repole sounded very spoiled when telling Donna Brothers on NBC about the "lowest of the low's" experienced after Uncle Mo was nosed in the King's Bishop. What a great horse race including an exciting finish and tremendous performance by UM off the bench. How could that be considered "lowest of the low's?" Especially considering Repole had the favorite up next in the Travers! I guess the high's are harder to come by when you're a billionaire. As a racing fan, it's tough to root for these connections. Do think Royal Delta will be interesting if she makes it to the BC Distaff (I like "Distaff" and good ol' time BC Day lineup too much to ever call it the Ladies Classic). Like how RD powerfully blew by top 3 yr. old fillies in the Alabama and RD's burst on far turn to win descisively in the Black Eyed Susan (2nd and 3rd horses out of that race have looked good winning stakes races at Belmont and Saratoga). Mott will have her more than ready for FM Division's best in the Distaff. Less racing...More great racing...Please! Mike R.
richhf More than 1 year ago
I want people who complain about the quality of the Saratoga Travers card to take a look at today's Del Mar card and then think twice. Claimers, especially lower level ones ($100K may be acceptable and also $75K but definitely not Maidens nor $25K or $10K tags) have no place being on the biggest race card of the year. Also would have been nice if they didn't scatter their three key races today. Granted the Saratoga cards aren't at the levels they were a decade ago, but at least bottom-level claimers and Maiden Claimers weren't on their marquee day's race card.
tony More than 1 year ago
I've been betting the NYRA tracks since '75 and this was one of my very favorite days , EVER. Great horse , exciting races. NYRA had a great day.
Bill Daly More than 1 year ago
Thought that Uncle Mo ran a huge race. After a 4 month layoff and after recovering from a serious illness this horse validated the faith people had in him. I hope they don't retire him now because he will only get better from here.