07/28/2011 12:55PM

Spa Day 6: 7/28/11


2:00 pm: It will be interesting to see if a $100,000 guaranteed pool will move the needle much on today's Pick-6 handle at Saratoga. A non-carryover Thursday card, even a pretty strong one like today's, rates to handle a little less.

This new preomotion, scheduled to be offered every Thursday during the meet, is the latest attempt to stimulate Pick-6 handle when there's no carryover. A decade ago when Barry Schwartz was the NYRA chairman, he came up with the idea of dropping the takeout fby 10 points (then from 25 to 15 percent, now 26 to 16 percent), and while any decrease is welcome it really didn't do the trick. In addition, it created the unfair impression that NYRA was jacking up the takeout when there was a carryover, when in fact it was lowering it when there wasn't one.

Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, I'm not playing it today. The only non-carryover pick-6's that interest me are the ones on major racing days, when an influx of casual money is as good as a carryover. Good luck if you're wading into the pool.


2:20 pm: J C's Pride, who set a track record of 56.52 for five furlongs yesterday winning his second start, received a Beyer Speed Figure of 101. Somewhat lost behind his sharp performance was the excellent debut of the runner-up in the race, Pletcher trainee Mr. Style, who was beaten just 3 1/4 lengths and received a sparkling 91 Beyer for his debut.


3:00 pm: Catching up on the earlier races:

1st: First steeplechase of the meeting went to All Together, a 6-year-old by...wait for it...Danzig! He beat Demonstrative by 2 1/4 lengths, reversing a 10-length loss to that rival at Belmont July 3rd going 18 furlongs. This was a mere 16.5.

2nd: A field of just four 4-year-old fillies for this N3x allowance, not one of them coming off a race in New York -- two from Monmouth, one from Churchill and one from Prairie Meadwos. The first three finishers were bet almost identically: Ha Ha Tonka ($5.50) and runner-up Stormandaprayer were both 1.75-1 and third finisher The Underling was 1.80-1.

3rd: Trainer David Jacobson, 1 for 17 at Saratoga last year, won his second race of the meeting when Malibu Artiste ($3.80) rallied wide to wear down Spina by three-quarters of a length.


4:10 pm: Higher Court, favored on the board at 3-1 for the upcoming $75k Quick Call Stakes, was just scratched in the paddock. If you used him in the pick-4 or pick-6, looks like you'll inherit eaither #7 Longhunter (currently 3-1) or #8 Great Mills (now 7-2) as the post-time favorite.

First two legs of that guaranteed pick-6 went to Crazy Party ($7.90) and Best Act ($9.80).


4:30 pm: If you used Higher Court, you scratched into the winner, as Great Mills ($7.20) outfinished Fudgsicle to win the Quick Call as the narrow ($58,491 to $56,178) favorite over late-bet Royal Currier. Great Mills, a Millenium Farms homebred War Front 3-year-old trainmed by Steve Asmussen, had failed in three straight richer, longer stakes but was right at home turning back today to 5 1/2 furlongs, which he covered in 1:01.39.


4:45 pm: Don;t have an exact number, but I'm told that the pick-6 pool fell just short of the guarantee so NYRA will have to kick in about $6k to bring the pool up to $100k. And remember, that's the gross pool, not the payout: If exactly $100k is in the pool, $16k goes to takeout, leaving $84k to be paid out -- $63k to the 6-of-6 winners (or a $63k carryover if no one picks 6) and $21k to consolations.


5:15 pm: Lots of Stones, who trailed throughout the 8th race after a troubled getaway, was declared a non-starter by the stewards, setting up a host of refunds and consolations. The good news for pick-4 and pick-6 players is that the race was won by the post-time favorite, Full of Gut, whose win payoff fell from $4.80 to $4.40 after the bets on Lots of Stones were removed from the pool. (The prices on the first four finishers, as initially posted, were 7-5/2-1/12-1/9-1. After the stewards' decision, these fell to 6-5/2-1/11-1/8-1.

So let's say you used both Great Mills and late-scratch Higher Court in the 7th, and both Full of Gut and official-non-starter Lotsa Stones in the 8th in the p-4 or p-6: You're now alive four times instead of once. And that's why the payoffs are probably going to look awfully small on both bets.


5:50 pm: Kinda Spicy at 6-5 was the third straight winning favorite on a day when only one winner in the first nine races has been more than 7-2. Kinda Spicy, who won her debut at Belmont June 19 by 6 3/4 lengths, stretched out to two turns flawlessly in her second career start, won by 3 1/2, and looks bound for graded stakes.

Kinda Spicy is a 3-year-old Darley homebred by A. P. Indy from the Chilean mare Isola Piu Bella. Four of the six starters in this nine-furlong N1x were sired by either A. P. Indy or by sons of A. P. Indy (Bernardini, Malibu Moon.)

All 10 in the finale are covered in the pick-6, seven of them at under $5k.

The plan here is to hit the road a little after 9 tomorrow morning, get back to Saratoga by 1, unload and unleash the hounds, and make it to the track for that sorta-twilight card that begins at 2:30 p.m.