07/30/2011 1:56PM

Spa Day 8: 7/30/11


1:55 pm: Sunny and clear at Saratoga, where for some reason only the last race of the day (the 11th) has been taken off the grass, while races 1,5,6,8 and 9 remain on the turf. The change in the finale is an especially key one for those playing the $500k guaranteed late pick-4 or the pick-6 with a $40k carryover from Friday.

In the opener, favored Zapparition neglected to lift a hoof and Hit It Rich ($16.20) pulled another turf-course course wire job. Don't know if it was an ongoing bias as some are claiming or that she got away with a slow pace of 1:13.37 en route to a final time of 1:42.83.

No giant surprise in the second as Repole/Pletcher firster Giant Surprise ($7.80) made a winning debut while heavily bet $320k 2yo purchase Stealcase ran fourth at 8-5. [Update: Giant Surprise was vanned off after the race with lameness in his right front foot.]

Got the new laptop up and running. So far so good, but I spent most of the last two hours accidentally turning my Internet access on and off every couple of minutes until I realized why there was a little picture of a radio tower on the F2 button I use to insert and edit in Google Docs -- it shuts off the wi-fi. I'm now terrified to touch the F3 (picture of a battery) or F4 (picture of a starburst) buttons lest I turn off the battery or cause the sun to implode.

Actually the more I look at this keyboard, there are little icons everywhere -- it looks like one of those cash registers at McDonald's with pictures of hamburgers and fries instead of numbers.


3:18 pm: The races are entirely too logical so far today. Sebago Bay ($5.50) looked like he'd run away and hide from the statebred maiden claimers in the 4th and he did. Radical Sabbatical ($6.80) appeared to have the 5th at his mercy unless El Caballo returned to form, and when El Caballo didn't, Radical Sabbatical ($6.80) mowed down the rest.

Passing the pick-6 due to the impossible upcoming first leg, a turf route for 2-year-old maidens. I'lll post a pick-4 play in a little while.


3:40 pm: Guess the 6th wasn't so tough. Picked Pletcher firster Captain Webb on Talking Horses, he was bet to 3-2, and he just won like a good thing. Entirely too logical. Winner is from the first crop sired by English Channel, the 2007 champion turf male also trained by Pletcher.


4:20 pm: Dark Thunder ($6.20) won his third straight since being switched to Pletcher in May. the 4-year-old Trippi gelding has zipped through his N1x, N2x and now N3x conditions, and was the third winner on the card for Pletcher/Velazquez.

The upcoming Hattie Mosely is the first of three straight stakes races and the only one named for the founder of a Saratoga chicken restaurant. After four days downstate, where the closest thing to a Hattie's fried-chicken sandwich I could find was a Burger King Bacon Cheddar Ranch Tendercrisp -- and it wasn't very close -- I felt obliged to honor today's stakes race with an HFC sandwich. Wish there were a key for that on this laptop.

Here's the pick-4 play:


5:00 pm: Nice to get alive with My Redbyrd as a "C" at 18-1 to start things off in the pick-4 (pool: $871,904), but 2-1 fave Starformer may have been best. The Juddmonte import walked out of the gate, was bounced around early, trailed the field through a crawling pace of 24.92 and 50.07, then swung wide but came up understandably short as the race finished up quickly in 1:14.37 and 1:37.90.

My Redbyrd ($39.20) -- who ran a strong race herself, having only Starformer beaten entering the far turn -- is a 3-year-old Royal Academy filly who ran a close fourth to Winter Memories in the Appalachian. The winner is trained by John Terranova and was ridden by Leparoux. Ruthenia, a half-sister to Rutherienne, was second in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies withStarformer third and Tapit Dancer fourth.


5:30 pm: Zagora ($13.60) was a decisive 1 1/2-length winner of the G1 Diana, and a deserving one: She was best in the G2 New York last time when Giants Play set a ridiculously slow pace and held her off by a neck. Today she was in the race earlier, took command when the leaders - including surprising 2-1 favorite Unbridled Humor, 4 for 4 but making her graded-stakes debut -- wilted, and got the jump on the deep closers. Aruna was second with Bay to Bay third.

Zagora, a 4-year-old French-bred by Green Tune, is owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Chad Brown. A winner of two G3's in France last year, she had been second or third in all four of her U.S. starts.


6:00 pm: Make that four for Pletcher today after Stay Thirsty ($7.00) was an emphatic four-length winner of the Jim Dandy, earning himself a Travers start on the same afternoon that stablemate Uncle Mo may return in the King's Bishop. Moonshine Mullin, a 37-1 shot making his dirt debut, held second with Dwyer winner Dominus fading late to third and Alternation fourth in his first start since winning the Peter Pan May 14. The winner's time of 1:48.78 looks solid. 

Stay Thirsty, coming off a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, is now 2 for 3 at Saratoga, winning a maiden race andrunning second in the Hopeful last summer. The Bernardini-Marozia colt was a $500k 2-year-old purchase by Repole Stable.

Looks like 6 of the 9 runners left in the off-the-turf 11th are covered in the pick-6, at payoffs ranging from $31k on favored My Golden Opinion to one-ticket pool-scoops of $188k on Saints Alive and Scorch the Torch. If you want a carryover, root for the 5 (River City Rebel), 6 (Mr. Hadif) or 9 (Mitigation). And no, I wasn't clever enough to combine my B's and C's to stay alive in the pick-4.


6:30 pm: My Golden Opinion ($5.00) ran down the speed to win the 11th and complete a $3,672 pick-4 and $31,391 pick-6.

And now, with not enough gambling to my name for the day, I'm off to the At The Rail pavillion here for....a poker tournament! No entry fees or cash prizes but there are some trainers and jocketys playing and should be fun. Full report tomorrow.