07/25/2011 1:04PM

Spa Day 4: 7/25/11



2:00 pm: I got a vivid preview of the rain that just soaked Saratoga while driving down the Thruway to Long Island this morning. Sheets of rain started crashing down about two hours south of the Spa at 11 a.m. and a more sensible person would have pulled over and waited it out, but since I was heading south and the storm was in the northbound lane, I hydroplaned on and the worst was over in 15 minutes. Looks from my tv in cloudy but dry Hempstead as if it hit the track just before the second race, and it was shortly thereafter that the announcement came that the track has been downgraded to "sloppy" and that the rest of the afternoon's grass races (4th, 6th, 7th and 9th) are off the turf.

If you played the early pick-4, you get an "all" in leg 3 (race 4) -- a winner for each horse you used -- because the surface switch was announced after that pool closed. No free bingo squares if you're playing the pick-6 (starts in race 5) because the pool is still open.

Even with the downpour and some ugly construction on the Whitestone Bridge, made it from racetrack (Saratoga) to racetrack (Belmont) in 3:32. The hounds gave me a hysterical five-minute greeting and then went back to sleep, so it's time to get tied on and figure out a little off-the-turf late pick-4.


2:20 pm: The late scratches are coming fast and furious in those four off-the-turfers. Superfecta wagering has been cancelled in the 4th and 9th so far due to six-horse fields. Also, heavy favorite Friend or Foe was just scratched from the featured Evan Shipman.


2:30 pm: Scratches the rest of the way, as of right now:

5th: 4 [Update 2:46: also scratch #2]

6th: 1,9 [Update 2:39: Also scratch #8]

7th: 1a, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15

8th: 1a, 2, 4

9th: 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 11, 13


3:00 pm: The early pick-4 with the "all" in race 4 paid $47.40 for $2. Also, NYRA reports that Friend or Foe, scratched from the Shipman because of the slop, will now run in the Whitney on Aug. 6. Also, I must report that I can't make heads or tails of what's left of the late pick-4.


3:35 pm: Asmussen firster Morning Shine ($15.00) kicked off the late pick-4 drawing away from three cat horses -- Sweet Cat (2nd), Volcat (3rd) and Cat Girl (4th). But lion trumps cat and Morning Shine is by Lion Heart, who is by Tale of the Cat. 

It's possible I need a catnap.


4:00 pm: Speaking of Tale of the Cat, his son Overdriven got a Beyer Speed Figure of 93 for his four-length victory in yesterday's Sanford. Not quite as flashy as his debut fig of 100, but still very strong for any 2-year-old in July.


4:35 pm: Icabad Crane made up five lengths down the stretch and nailed Stormy's Majesty in the final stride to win the Evan Shipman. The 6-year-old Jump Start-Adorahy gelding was winning for the 7th time in 26 career starts. Do you remember what he was doing 21 starts ago? RUnning third to Big Brown and Macho Again in the 2008 Preakness.

Mine Over Matter, who ran third, opened as the even-money favorite -- perhaps from early bets on his scratched entrymate Friend or Foe -- and drifted late to be the 3-1 third choice as Stormy's Majesty was bet down to 3-2 by post time.

Five of the six in the finale are overed in the pick-6, at payoffs ranging from $2868 to $22k, with a carryover only if #10 Maya Charli wins in her return from recent steeplechasing. 


4:59 pm: When's the last time a Saratoga card ended before 5 pm ET? Sometime during the Nixon administration?

Miss Vindictive ($6.50) took the finale to complete a $419.50 pick-4 and a $2,294 pick-6 -- both lower than the posted willpays (of $510 and $2,868) because Miss Vindictive was the post-time favorite and apparently some live tickets to scratched horses were transferred to her.

No homework tonight (unless you're already eyeballing that $239k carryover at Del Mar Wednesday). Enjoy the dark day -- six straight days of Saratoga racing starting Wednesday.