08/29/2011 12:02PM

Spa Day 33: 8/29/11


1:00 pm: "Welcome back to Saratoga," said Tom Durkin, "where, astonishingly, the main track is fast and, not so astonishingly, we are off the turf..."

Races 4, 6 and 9 are off the grass, with the 4th stretching out from 8.5f to 9f and the 6th and 9th staying at 5.5f on the dirt. After scratches, those races held together pretty well and will go with fields of 7, 8 and 7.

Only nine races today, but 11 have already been drawn for both Wednesday and Thursday. The Personal Ensign has been rescheduled and will be redrawn for Saturday and run as the third Grade 1 on a card that already had the G1 Woodward and G1 Forego.

We survived Irene in these parts after a scary Saturday night of howling winds and driving rain with nothing worse than downed tree limbs. I'll be playing the last seven cards of the meeting from the in-home OTB parlor. I'm already jonesing for a Hattie's, and a McDonald's "Southern Style Fried Chicken Sandwich" or a Burger King Tendercrisp make very, very poor substitutes. 

Sorry for the delay in posting your post-Travers comments -- they're up now on Saturday's blog.


1:15 pm: Expecting Cash ($5.20), last early, rallied up the rail to take the opener. David The Great dq'd from 2nd to 3rd for clearly coming over on Shankopotamus in midstretch. Track is fast (1:10.48) and seemingly fair.

Saturday stakes Beyers, on a split-variant day when the main track was judged to have slowed down after the 5th race: 101 for the Travers(Stay Thirsty); 106 for the King's Bishop (Caleb's Posse/Uncle Mo); 100 for the Ballerina (Hilda's Passion); 89 for the Victory Ride (Hot Summer); 100 for Ballston Spa (Daveron.) Fire On Ice, the Kimmel-trained Unbridled's Song 2yo firster who won the 2nd race by 10 3/4 lengths, got an 88.


3:25 pm: Race 5 went off seven minutes late after two gate scratches. First, firster Burnin' Ash -- who opened 2-1 and had floated to 9-2 by (original) post time -- was scratched, and then it was 27-1 Sleeping Star unseating the rider.

If you needed either in the pick-4 or pick-6 you got switched to even-money For Her Eyes Only, and you got a little lucky as she desperately held on to win after 2-1 Flavor Girl went wide and then just missed catching her.


3:40 pm: For Her Eyes Only completed an early pick-4 (of $8.20, $4.60, $6.30 and $4.20 winners) that paid $100 even. Let's see if we can't get the late one to produce more interesting results:

In the upcoming 6th, Repole/Pletcher firster Primed for Success, a half to Driven for Success, is 4/5. I thought the 7th was open and went deep. In the 8th, the Saratoga Dew, I'm tossing the three fillies who ran 1-2-3 in a prep for the race Aug. 7 in the mud on the theory that Spa City Princess and Bankers Buy are just better than all three of them. I also used Minarologist because a)she has races at 2 that are really good and she's going to move forward one of these days and b)she's the outsider in the field at an overlaid 10-1 ML. In the finale, MTO Hopeoverexperience may be strongly favored, but she's a stone-cold stopper. Patine and Holy Spice have run occasional dirt sprints that are better so I took all three and a couple of goofy C's to boot.


4:00 pm: Primed for Success showed absolutely nothing running fifth or 6th every step as second-timers Princess Phoebe ($28.40) and 5-1 Castles Burning, both of whom had trouble in their July 31 debuts behind Bellacourt, ran 1-2. I wasn't smart enough to box my four backups for the $1,309 tri or $2,252 super, but did get alive for $1 in the pick-4 (CAAA) to 2,6,8/2,3,6/5,8,12 and for $0.50 to (CBAA)1,4/2,3,6/5,8,12. Probably a good start for you Grand Slam players as the 4-5 favorite and 7-2 second choice both failed to run 1-2-3.


4:15 pm: Here's how the fields are shaping up for the closing-weekend stakes races, according to today's NYRA press notes:

"The 1 1/8-mile, $750,000 Woodward is the centerpiece of the final Saturday card, with star filly Havre de Grace expected to head a field that is also likely to include Convocation, Flat Out, Giant Oak, Ice Box, Mambo Meister, Mission Impazible, and Rule, said NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.

Grade 2 Fourstardave winner Sidney’s Candy will turn back in distance and return to dirt in the seven-furlong, $250,000 Forego. There, he is likely to meet Aikenite, Escrow Kid, Golddigger’s Boy, Jackson Bend, Jersey Town and Regal Ransom. Tempted to Tapit was listed as possible for the race.

The $300,000 Personal Ensign, originally scheduled for Sunday, August 28, has been moved to Saturday. The race will be redrawn Wednesday, but Byrnes said the original field of six – Acronym, Ask the Moon, Pachattack, Protesting, Super Espresso and Tiz Miz Sue – would probably remain intact.

Sunday brings the Grade 1, $250,000 Spinaway for juvenile fillies at seven furlongs. Probable for that race are And Why Not, Baffle Me, Born Bullish, Georgie’s Angel, Grace Hall, Lady Pecan, Stopshoppingmaria, and Vukovar.

Also Sunday is the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac Stakes, run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for 3-year-olds.  Byrnes expects Adirondack Summer, Breathless Storm, Brilliant Speed, Chinglish, Clear Attempt, Clement Rock, King Congie, Live in Joy, Perregaux, and Seal Cove, with Sky Blazer possible.

Two graded stakes are set for closing Monday, Labor Day, September 5.

The Grade 1, $250,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful is likely to bring together Currency Swap, Hunt Crossing, J C’s Pride, Jagati, Laurie’s Rocket, Power World, Scallion, Trinniberg, and Vexor. Basmati, Big Blue Nation, I’ll Have Another, and Jack’s in the Deck were all listed as possible.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Glens Falls at 1 3/8 miles for fillies and mares on the turf will probably draw Belle Watling, Bubbly Jane, Dyani, Emerald Beech, Giants Play, Gold d’Oro and Prize Catch, with Huxley Winner a possibility."

Also, special post times Friday (2:30 pm) and Monday (12:30 p.m.)


5:05 pm: Mineralogist was best in the Saratoga Dew, snatching up and altering course midstretch when she couldn't get through at the rail and then running down Bankers Buy at the wire.

Pick-3 of first three legs of pick-4 came back $1098 so even from the cheap 50-cents seats, the pick-4's can't be too bad. [Update: $2 willpays are $2792 to the favored #12, $4565 to the #8 and $5486 to the #5.]

Carryover to Wednesday! No live tickets and the biggest conso is $14,890 so I'm guessing the carryover is three times that, or $44,670.


5:45 pm: Hopeoverexperience stopped as the 3-2 favorite and Patine ($6.90) overtook Holy Spice to complete the $4,565 pick-4. I was off by a dollar on the carryover guess: it's $44,671 in the kitty for Wednesday's 11-race card. Where's the stakes? This time it's the 8th, where nine 2-year-old fillies will contest the P. G. Johnson at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf.