08/27/2011 10:25AM

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?