07/27/2011 11:43AM

Spa Day 5: 7/27/11


12:45 pm: Sunny and 77 at Saratoga, sunnier and 83 outside the home OTB on Long Island where I'm playing day 5. Main track listed as fast, and racing's back on the turf, being called "good" as the day begins.

If you like maiden races, there are four in a row in races 3-6 today. The main attraction is the G2 Lake George and the rematch between More Than Real and Winter Memories, who ran 1-2 in that order in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last Nov. 5. That was Winter Memories' lone defeat in five career starts and she comes into this off odds-on victories in the G3 Appalachian and G2 Sands Point. More Than Real returns stateside off an 11th-place finish in her season debut in the G1 Coronation at Royal Ascot June 17, where she caught a boggy course she didn't handle at all.


12:55 pm: Here's a link to Frankel's impressive victory over Canford Cliffs (who beat Goldikova at Royal Ascot last month) in the Sussez Stakes at Goodwood earlier today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJnWXXrYt7E


1:45 pm: Rare early double of two two-turn, nine-furlong dirt races, a vanishing breed. Can't fault NYRA on this one: They beg and plead with trainers to fill these races and have tried various purse-bonus schemes to fill them. Today's second race, a N2x allowance for older fillies, went with just four starters, and there was a real racing oddity for a dirt route: each of the first four quarter-miles was faster than the previous one. The posted fractions of 25.45, 50.58, 1:15.10 and 1:38.89 translate to successive quarter-miles of 25.45, 25.13, 24.52 and 23.79. Race went to Phipps/McGaughey Protesting, half to '09 Dixie winner Parading.


2:15 pm: J C's Pride, runner-up to Sanford winner Overdriven in his debut at Belmont July 1, just set a new track record of 56.54 for five furlongs winning his second start. The Henny Hughes colt, purchased from a May 2-year-old sale for $200k by Joseph Bucci, is trained by Bobby Barbara. J C's Pride shot to the front, set fractions of 21.87 and 44.65, and did not appear fully extended through a final furlong in 11.89. Rematch with Overdriven in the Hopeful Sept. 5?


3:45 pm: "Good to firm" seems about right for the turf course after the first two grass races of the day, with older-filly maiden claimers going a mile on the inner in 1:37.19 and 2-year-old maidens taking 1:02.99 for 5.5f on the main.

Really looking forward to the Lake George, but don't really see any big betting opportunity there or in the late pick-4. But we're here to play horses, so it's going to go something like this in races 7-10:

If it seems like I have little-to-no opinion among the six plausible contenders in the 7th, neither does the public: all six of them are 4-1, 9-2 or 5-1 with 6 MTP.


5:05 pm: Winter Memories ($3.10) showed a truly brilliant turn of foot after checking and swinging outside the field from last place at the top of the stretch, storming to victory in the Lake George while being geared down at the wire.

The gray 3-year-old filly seemed to be in trouble as Bellamy Star opened a clear lead and a hole closed on the inside in upper stretch, but Jose Lezcano simply snatched her up and took her to the outside, and she mowed them down in a flash. Bellamy Star held second and More Than Real, who handed Winter Memories her lone defeat in the BC Juvenile Fillies last fall, was an even third.

Winter Memories could be as good as 3-year-old grass filly as we've seen in years. Can't wait to see her tackle her elders later this year.


5:45 pm: One Note Samba ($7.70) held off favored Power Blast (9-5) to win the 9th and get me alive to half the field in the finale for suprisingly okay pick-4's: Other than teh $169 payoff to favored Lovely Lil, everything else is $400 and up, not at all bad for a sequence beginning with $7.60, $3.10 and $7.70 winners.

In the pick-6, 6 of the 10 are covered, at payoffs ranging from $7,559 on Lovely Lil to just over $50k on Sezzana and Salty Little Sis. Carryover if the 7,8,9 or 10 get home.

Calling it a day. And just a reminder: Don't break your neck (or the speed limit) to get to the track by 1 p.m. on Friday. First post isn't until 2:30 pm.