09/05/2011 11:07AM

Spa Day 39: 9/5/11


12:05 pm: Wake up! First post is 12:30 for Closing Day, where the Hopeful is the headliner, four of the six scheduled grass races have been moved to the sloppy main track, and the two stakes races that remain on the turf have been diminished by scratches.

There's a mandatory payout of the no-carryover pick-6 pool whether or not anyone picks six. The sequence on races 6 through 11 starts and ends with turf sprints that have been moved to the main track and includes three stakes races -- the Ecclesiastic (8th), G1 Hopeful (9th)and G3 Glens Falls (10th).

The MTO's have yet to be scratched from the two remaining grass races, but early scratches because of the soft turf changed both races. The Ecclesiastic is down to a field of seven (not counting MTO's) and Fiddlers Patriot now looks like a strong favorite in what had been a contentious field before the defections of the next four ML choices -- Varsity, Yield Bogey, Awakino Cat and Ahvee's Destiny. The Glens Falls lost just two entrants but they were the top contenders Bubbly Jane and Endless Expanse. 


1:00 pm: A little warm-up action before the mandatory-payout pick-6 begins:


2:05 pm: Three races, three romping favoprites: Cindy's Joy ($4.80) by 6, Seeker ($4.20) by 6 1/2, Cease ($3.70) by 3 1/2. Could we save a little chalk for later on when I might need it in the pick-6?

I really like playing this closing-day pick-6's. They attract good pools, and if 5 of 6 is the best anyone can do, the payout is three times higher than it normally would be. Here's my worksheet for the sequence, which I hope helps you organize your pick-6 and late pick-4 thoughts without looking at all the horses who have been scratched. (I've left the MTO's in for the 8th and 10th because they haven't officially been scratched yet.)

I'll post my play shortly before the 6th, where it's going to take some board-watching to determine which if any of the six firsters to include, and how prominently, along with the three obvious favorites who have run decently.


And let's get the mushy stuff out of the way now: Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your kind closing-day comments about the blog this year. I thoroughly enjoy doing it and your participation in the comments energizes me and makes it all the more fun for readers. Okay, that's enough of that. As you were.


2:35 pm: MTO's just scratched from the Ecclesiastic and Glens Falls, and removed from worksheet above.


3:10 pm: One last time for Saratoga 2011:


3:25 pm: That was a lot of last-minute scurrying over the firsters for naught as Tug of War, one of the three who had run, won the opening leg of the pick-6. His victory gave trainer Mike Hernandez, a Saratoga mainstay and just described by Durkin as "the oldest active trainer in New York," his first win of the meet.

I found the betting on the firsters confusing. Manero was the clear fourth choice behind the three with experience in the double and pick-3 pools, but then never took any money in the win pool. Meanwhile, Sciacca firster My Pal of Pals was a distant seventh choice in both those pools but 3-1 in the early betting, which seemed pretty serious -- but he did nothing but float up from there, ending up at 7-1. The two who looked best on paper rather than the board turned out to be the best of the firsters: the $110k Corinthian from Bruce Brown was 2nd at 10-1 and the $25k City Zip from Linda Rice was third at 13-1.

At least I stayed on the A train and beat favored Little Dale. I tend to play C-heavy tickets on these mandatory-payout days in case 4 A's and one wacky C are enough to get the front end of the pool with 5 of 6. My only single A ended up being Fiddlers Patriot in the Ecclesiastic -- he towers over what's left of the field on paper, and if it's not him, I had no opinion of whom it might be.

On to the 6th where I have no idea why Ambassador Bridge is the fifth choice at 8-1 instead of one of the favorites.


4:20 pm: Goldzar, 31-1 outsider in field of six, slogged through the extremely slow and boggy (1:07.28 for 5.5f) turf course to upset the Ecclesiastic. On a firm course, this figured to be the fastest turf sprint of the meet. Instead, they ran about 35 lengths slower than the course record. I can't remember even the sorriest statebred maiden claimers take that long to complete a turf sprint up here. How slow will the Glens Falls (exactly twice as long at 11f) be?

Maybe someone hit the all button, maybe 5 of 6 will be good enough. Let the redboarding begin, but I didn't see anything to like about the winner. In fact, the two times Goldzar has been entered at the meeting, I stared at his pp's wondering what moved owner Kenny Desormeaux to claim him for $80k last fall. In any case, he gave jockey Jaime Rodriguez his first winner of the meet after going 0 for 60 through yesterday.

Pashito the Che, bet late to clear 5-2 second choice, came out and bumped 4-5 Fiddlers Patriot twice in the stretch, but I don't think that's what beat the tired favorite. After a claim of foul by Velazquez, Pashito the Che was dq'd from 2nd to 4th, elevating Wicked Tune to 2nd and Fiddlers Patriot to third.

Also, True to Tradition was late paddock scratch. You got moved to Fiddlers Patriot in the pick-4 or pick-6.


5:10 pm: Wasn't sure how to root in the final yards of the Hopeful as I'd have stayed alive for 5 with either 9-5 Currency Swap or 66-1 Trinniberg, albeit with many more options with the former. In any case, Currency Swap finally wore down the longshot leadern to win an ugly but exciting Hopeful, run in achingly slow time (1:26.16) and marred by J C's Pride's being pulled up on the turn.

Currency Swap was an impressive six-length winner of his debut Aug. 6 on the Whitney undercard, in a race that got a BSF of 98 that I doubt he ran back to today (and from which two others have returned to fall off a few points.) The son of High Cotton was a $70k yearling purchase by Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, and is based at Monmouth for trainer Terri Pompay.

Trinniberg was a pretty nutty price when you consider he was only 5-1 in the Saratoga Special three weeks ago off a winning debut at Calder. He got caught up in a blistering early duel in the Special but got clear today in 21.91 and 45.14. Currency Swap drew even in upper stretch, Trinniberg spurted away briefly, but Currency Swap made another run at him and got there by half a length.

5:40 pm: Emerald Beech ran down Dynaslew in the final furlong to win the Glens Falls by a length and a half in 2:21,71 for 11 furlongs.

If I'm reading the willpays correctly, no one's alive for 6 of 6. I'll have five 5-of-6 consos [3,5,7,9,10 in the 8th] with the #6 (@$2,147=$10,735) or #16 (@$1,952=$9,760) and one conso [just the #7 in the 8th] with the #4 ($6,782) or #14 (#4,157). Those payoffs will change if the post-time favorite wins because #11 Get Gorgeous was just announced as a late scratch so the consos to her will be transferred to the post-time favorite. Also have those somewhat redundant insanity-insurance XAAA 50-cent pick-4's to the #6 ($11,224 for $2) and #16 ($8942 for $2).


6:05 pm: The 16-14-4-6 ran 1-2-3-4 in that order, and since Keiko ($4.30) inherited the consos on the late scratch, the five consos paid $1,718 apiece, down from the posted $1,952 willpay. Still, it's nice to end the meeting on a winning note and I won't even think about what it might have paid had Trinniberg held on.

Pour yourself a beverage and congratulate yourself on making it to the end of Saratoga 2011. I'll be back here Saturday for Opening Day at Belmont. First post is 1 p.m.