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.



Peter Eckert More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, appreciate your daily blogs from Saratoga and the time you have to put in to keep us up to date. Would you consider posting the total cost of your Pic 4 and 6 investments so we don't have to try and figure out the cost of the different permutations. Thanks .Pete
fort marcy More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Another great job for 2011. Glad you had a profitable meet. A couple of questions: 1) in the DQ of P. the Che- it appeared there was an explanation in a diagramed replay, I don't recall this has been done on a regular basis. Hence, is this done on all DQ situations whether a number is taken down or if nothing changes? What is your take on the length of the meeting? Would you prefer expanding, revert to the original 4 weeks or something in the middle? Lastly, how big of an impact do you see in the slot contribution for 2012? How is money divided- purses, cap improvements etc.. ? Do you think we will be seeing more full fields? If so, where will the horses come from? Good Luck at Belmont- Best of Luck to All! [1-Length of meeting: Personal preference is for same or shorter, and maybe a five-day week or two to start. 2-We're all guessing on the slots contribution -- depends on actual volume of play -- but it should produce an extra $25m for purses and $25m for improvements during its first year of operation. -SC]
Ian Veitch More than 1 year ago
Varsity, Yield Bogey, Awakino Cat, and Ahvee's Denisity are all racing at Parx today in races with much larger purses.
ralph conte More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Another great job this year. Are you playing any pick 4'S today. I guess your playing the pick 6 for the pay out. that a shot? [Playing both pick-4's and the pick-6. -SC]
jerry More than 1 year ago
Great blog as usual. Hope the rain stays away from Saratoga today. Track looks dull. They could have used an egg timer on the first race. I hope the Belmont meet has as much success as Saratoga.
Matt More than 1 year ago
Why would JJ give up a riding title to ride Rose Cat at Parx???
bigjcc526 More than 1 year ago
6 maiden races on the final card. Pull the curtain out and put down this "worst Saratoga meet" of my lifetime . NYRA greed with every card full of maiden,turf sprint and low level claimers. This meet was so great until just a few short years ago. I would love to see the meet shortened to around 25 race cards,9 races on weekday,10 on weekends.that will never happen.
jeff39 More than 1 year ago
I have a question from Satrurday's card.....when were the 3 horses scratched before the race was eventually cancelled? I had a DD bet with 1-3 and was expecting the conso payout and when I got to the track today all I got was the refund of my bet. I didn't here any scratches before the running of the 11th but honestly with the rain and thunder I possibly missed it......great blog Steve. How many days til opening day 2012? [They announced those three scratches a minute or two before they cancelled. -SC]
Jeff39 More than 1 year ago
So was the 12th race cancelled before they even ran the 11th? If not wouldn't they have to pay the conso. DD to those 3 horses too? [The sequence was: They ran the 11th, then announced the 12th was moved to the main track, then announced the 12th was cancelled. -SC]
Dave Schabell More than 1 year ago
Echoing all of the sentiments of gratitude being exuded here on the blog today. It was a fantastic Saratoga meet, despite the whimpers about too much racing, poor cards, etc.. It is still Saratoga, a very special place, and a welcome break from the everyday humdrum of the racing year. It was profitable for me, much by following the Flying Zee stable, as a result of reading a feature article in the DRF Saratoga Preview. While I don't follow New York racing as religiously now that the Spa has closed, I still check in on the blog periodically and post on Pace Advantage as BMustang. Thanks for being part of the 2011 Saratoga experience!!!
cigarvacation More than 1 year ago
Steve, While I have been on hiatus from horse gambling for years, I specifically told a couple of buddies, that still gamble on the Saratoga and Del Mar meets heavily, to get on YOUR BLOG and BACK at Saratoga for the whole meet. I only wish I caught on to you a decade ago when I was wealthy enough to pump it in on a daily basis !! I told them to not get discouraged and stay with your picks and tickets on a daily basis for the whole meet. Suffice to say you made them a boatload of money today !! ( I realize they hurt your overall haul for the day !) I will be back in action next year for the Saratoga meet and rest assured I will be on your back for every published play you make prior to post time. I had MAJOR disciplinary issues when it came to the horses and I have cured that symptom and can't wait to get involved with you next year. I know many major EGO driven handicappers and fortunately I have cured that ill as well. You are by far, at least in my book, and I have played the horses for 35+ years save for the last 3 years, the best Saratoga handicapper I have ever encountered. Please keep your blog and ticket plays published with as much advance time as possible as I will be with you every step of the way next summer at the SPA. NICE WORK !!!