08/31/2011 11:22AM

Spa Day 34: 8/31/11


12:30 pm: Main track fast, turf good, two stakes races with fields of five and six, and a $44k pick-6 carryover for the first day of the final week of Saratoga.

Day 34 is an 11-race card that seems to have been arranged to annoy multirace bettors. Two firster-filled maiden races are buried in teh Pick Six sequence as the second(race 7) and final (race 11) legs, and the latter race will pose problems for pick-4 players as well. It's a race for $35k statebred 2yo maiden claimers -- including six firsters in a field of 11 -- that would have worked much better almost anywhere else on the card. Why not switch it with the 6th, a 10-horse field of turf sprinters with fully-exposed form? That would have removed it from both pick-4's and make it the first rather than last leg of the pick-6. 

The 7th race may prove less problemmatic because although 6 of the 8 2-year-olds are firsters, one of them will probably have to be a monster to beat Pletcher second-timer Mr. Style, who earned a 91 Beyer running second to possible Hopeful favorite J C's Pride in his July 27 debut.

The ongoing, um, creativity with placing the stakes races finds the five-horse Lady Tak going as the 3rd and the six-horse P. G. Johnson for 2-year-old fillies going as the 8th. The latter scratched down from a field of nine with the withdrawals of Idle Dice, Zultanite and Visionaria.


1:45 pm: Nice little $325 early double if you liked Hammock ($17.00) in the opener and Night Maneuver ($41.00) in the second. Hammock, neat 7-year-old grey gelding who has made 23 starts over five seasons for trainer Rick Schosberg, dueled from the half-mile pole to the wire with Scorper in a one-mile turf race with bizarrely slow posted fractions -- a half in 52.16  ("not enough O's in slow," said Durkin) and a final time of 1:38.13 that would imply a second half-mile of 45.97 after an opening half of 52.16. I'm skeptical.

In the 2nd, an open-company version of the dreaded 11th, Flying Zee firster Night Maneuver was clearly best, rallying strongly after being jammed up at the rail and altering course in midstretch. Hushion second-timer Moreforyourmoney, slammed late to 4-5 off a speed-and-fade debut against similar, made the lead and tired late again, barely holding third.


2:15 pm: Kid Kate won her second stakes race of the meeting when she ran down Moontune Missy to win the Lady Tak, 30 days after she took the Rachel Alexandra in similar stretch-running style. The 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid filly, a Dell Ridge homebred, was the 20th winner at the meet for Chad Brown -- good enough to win many a Spa training tile but still 13 behind Todd Pletcher this year.


3:20 pm: Making a goofy, violates-all-my-tenets (don't make caveman plays, don't hit the all button) pick-6 play for $396. I won't even dignify it with a colorful grid: 3,5,7/5/1,3,7/5,8/7/ALL(1 through 11)

If it were a more playable sequence or a bigger carryover, I wouldn't single Dominant Currency in the 10th, a race where I could easily go 4 or 5 deep, but just in case I'm right about him and a couple of others, I'll take my chances and try to stay out of trouble for a race or two this way. 


3:50 pm: Coun Catamount ($6.40) held off Hooligan's Delight by a neck to save the Caveman from extinction in the first leg of the pick-6. Woohoo. Mr. Style opened 1-2 for the 7th and none of the firsters got any action in the doubles or pick-3's ending here. Third-timer Officer Prado, the only other one to have started, is the clear second choice in both sets of willpays. Romans firster Benofear, currently 6-1 second choice in win pool with 18 MTP, was the sixth choice in the dd and p-3 pools.


4:10 pm: Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: The runner-up in the Delaware Handicap is the morning-line favorite for the Woodward. Havre de Grace, who is 2 for 6 against Blind Luck, is the 8-5 ML favorite to win the Woodward against Flat Out, Giant Oak, Rule, Mission Impazible, Ice Box, Mambo Meister and Convocation.


4:25 pm: Officer Prado ($9.40) broke with 2-5 Mr. Style and the two of them went at it around the track before Officer Prado inched ahead and prevailed by a neck in 1:04.19. Officer Prado, a Texas-bred by Officer, was 4th to Maan in his Churchill debut and second to Giant Surprise at Saratoga July 30. Farewell, caveman.


5:00 pm: Two straight losing odds-on Pletcher favorites as 4-5 Crazy Party faded to 5th in the stretch while Alaura Michele finished well to win the P. G. Johnson Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 2 1/4 lengths. The race honors the late Hall of Fame trainer whose charges incliuded Maplejinsky, Naskra's Breeze, Nasty and Bold, Quiet Little Table and Volponi.

New Wave, a half-sister to General Quarters trying turf for the first time, set the pace and continued on very well to be second at 16-1 with Bourbonstreetgirl third in a field of six. Alaura Michele, a Siena farm homebred by Arch, is trained by Bill Mott.


6:05 pm: After victories by Risky Rachel ($7.50) and Yadira ($13.40, everyone's covered in the pick-6 in the finale, ranging from 10 tickets at $23k to second-timer Rico Capote to one ticket at $233k to Contessa firster Cat Man Fu. The pick-6 is the only pool where Rico Capote is favored -- the lowest double, pick-3 and pick-4 willpays are to Pure Grit, also the current 3-1 win-pool fave.

ELeven races again tomorrow, starting with a steeplechase, and this time the stakes are the 8th and 9th, with Pletcher sending out the LM favorite in both: Dark Thunder at 2-1 in the restricted Island Whirl for older sprinters, and then Captain Webb at 3-1 in the G2 With Anticipation for 2-year-olds on the grass.