10/18/2008 12:11AM

Statebred Saturday


Wvastate Nystate2 Saturday is a good day to be a New York-bred but an even better day to be a West Virginia-bred.

New York Showcase Day: 7 races at Belmont for NY-breds. Total purses: $1 million. West Virginia Breeders' Day: 9 races at Charles Town for WV-breds. Total purses: $1.875 million.

It's an appealingly weird Saturday of racing around the country one week before the Breeders' Cup. The seven richest races from coast to coast include five statebred events and a steeplechase: the $500k West Virginia Breeders' Classic and $500k WVBC Distaff at CT; two $400k Florida Stallion Stakes for 2-year-olds at Calder; the $250k Empire Classic at Belmont, and the $250k Grand National Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills. The only open graded stakes on the flat are at Keeneland: the $300k G2 Raven Run for 3-year-old sprinters and the $150k G3 Sycamore at 12f on the grass.

Livinglegends Not enough weirdness? There's also the Living Legends Race at Oak Tree, where eight Hall of Fame jockeys are briefly coming out of retirement to ride Cal-bred N1x sprinters going six furlongs in the 4th race. From the rail out (before scratches): Jerry Bailey (age 51), Sandy Hawley (59), Pat Day (55), Jacinto Vasquez(64), Gary Stevens (45), Chris McCarron (53) Julie Krone (45) and Angel Cordero Jr. (65).

I'll be putting my time and money into Belmont's Showcase Day,and not just because the all-stakes pick-six starts with a $120k two-day carryover. For those of us who play New York regularly, this is sort of a family reunion of a card and a very localized version of what will happening at Oak Tree next Friday and Saturday. As discussed in a previous post, Banrock will be trying to become the first horse to complete a sweep of the season's four major grass stakes for statebred males. He has already won the Kingston, West Point and Cole, and is the 122-pound topweight and 2-1 favorite in Saturday's Mohawk.

One odd aspect of NY Showcase Day is that the five richest races are all handicaps, which is not the case with most statebred-showcase cards and seems like a relic that someone forgot to change. These races would be in no danger of attracting less than full fields if they were run under weight-for-age conditions, as any race purporting to crown champions should be, whether at the statebred or Eclipse level.

But it's sort of a moot point this year because this is a Showcase Day that doesn't showcase the very best New York-breds of 2008: Not one of the 11 NY-breds who has won an open graded stakes this year is running at Belmont Saturday. Give yourself an enormous pat on the back if you can name them without peeking at the answer below.

As for the riches at Charles Town, there's a strong favorite in each of the $500k races and they're homebred stablemates, both sired by the Seattle Slew stallion Eastover Court. In the Distaff, it's 12-for-23 Julie B., trying to atone for her defeat at 2-5 in last year's edition. In the Classic, it's the remarkable 10-year-old Confucius Say, who won the race as a 4-year-old in 2002 and then was away from the races for 3 1/2 years:

Download JulieB.pdf

Download ConfuciusSay.pdf

Answer: The 11 New York-bred winners of graded stakes this year are: Big Truck, Bustin Stones, Commentator, Doremifasollatido, I Lost My Choo, J'Ray, Pays to Dream, Sherine, Sweet Vendetta, Tin Cup Chalice and Z Fortune. Regardless of what happens Saturday, it's safe to say that Commentator, winner of the Whitney and Mass Cap and runner-up in the Met Mile, is the New York-bred of the Year.

Bomb Update 10/18 4 pm: Pick up some midnight oil on your way home from the track today. After 75-1 maiden Stormy's Smile upset the Maid of the Mist Stakes in the first leg of the pick-6, there's a huge chance we'll be playing a triple-carry tomorrow. It starts with three turf sprints. Oh joy.

You could argue that Stormy's Smile was an underlay at $153 for $2 based on her pp's: Two no-excuse double-digit defeats in two starts and taking on multiple winners today. After showing neither early speed nor any ability whatsoever in those two races, she led every step of the way today under Jose Lezcano Jr. to win by 3 1/2 lengths.

I found the result particularly exasperating because I virtually singled the runner-up, Sneakin Up, who I honestly thought would be 9-5ish but somehow went off the third choice at 4.80-1. And no, I didn't backwheel her for the $935 exacta.

Update 10/18 6 pm: It's official: three-day, $394,437 pick-six carryover into Belmont's impossible-looking Sunday card..

Update 10/19 6 pm: You don't have to wait until Breeders' Cup Saturday to play a seven-digit pick-six pool: There's a four-day $1,019,102 carryover into Wednesday's card at Belmont.

It looked impossible going in today, and it was. I somewhat reluctantly played a token $640 caveman ticket just in case, and was alive for a single conso into the finale to the two favorites -- Dirty Water Dog, the only covered horse for 6/6, and Tobruk. The former ran nowhere and the latter was a painful second to Prime Obsession. My other miss was not 23-1 Munition, who I thought had a little chance off a big rider switch, but 9-1 Counting House one race earlier, in a race where I singled King Carter, who ran 6th.

Wednesday's pick-six lineup includes four turf sprints, the new signature race of Belmont Park, and only one dirt race: a statebred maiden-claimer with seven first-time starters, which of course was positioned as the finale.