08/24/2007 2:41AM

Thursday Duncery


Wait a While's stirring victory in the Balston Spa, discussed earlier, was the kind of race that makes Saratoga so special -- a race that could have been a Grade 1 feature any Saturday of the year, practically hiding amid the statebred maidens and turf sprinters on an otherwise drab Thursday afternoon.

A few other notes on Day 26 of 36:

*Race 2: Early favorite for the '08 Big Apple Triple? Big Train, a Tagg-trained firster by hot freshman sire Hook and Ladder, made a strong debut wiring fellow statebred juveniles by 6 1/2 lengths in 1:17.65, good for a Beyer of 80. It was the most gapped-out finish of the meet: the margins between the first six finishers were 6 1/2, 4 1/2, 5, 12 3/4 and 7 lengths.

*Race 5: Don't get excited about Pizza's reported winning time of 1:23.89 winning a maiden claimer that figured to go two seconds slower: The charts are wrong and his actual time WAS two seconds slower -- 1:25.89 according to the Teletimer on the replay video.

*Race 7: Every streak must come to an end, and the bell tolled here for Siro's-seminar handicapper Andy Serling. He had successfully designated about a dozen previous starters at the meeting as Dunce Cap Specials -- low-priced horses so contemptible in his eyes that only a dunce would pick them, and so certain of losing that he would wear a dunce cap at the next day's seminar if they won. He had deftly dodged donning the Stetson of Stupidity until now, when Dunce Cap designee Metro Meteor($8.70) got up by a neck at the wire. Serling will be back at Siro's tomorrow, presumably with hat in hand.

*Race 9: I would be curious to hear anyone, even with the result in the books, make a case for Judge's Pride, the $67.50 winner of the turf sprint finale. I know he had never tried grass before (not that he had a stitch of turf breeding) and I know the field was terrible and that these turf sprints are lotteries for chronic non-winners. Even so: Judge's Pride had been beaten a combined 165 lengths in his nine career starts against the same statebred maiden company, and had recorded his only on-the-board finish when he was third beaten 12 lengths in even weaker statebred maiden-claiming company. Congratulations to those who found something to like about him.

--Restaurant Foray (non-corndog division) #7: Travers Week is not exactly Derby Week, but town is filling up fast, as I learned when a party of three made a late decision to try to get a restaurant reservation Thursday evening. The wait at Hattie's was 45 minutes, Il Forno's said not to bother, and even the modest Hibachi Japanese joint on Route 50 said it would be an hour wait. What about Mare, that dark place on Maple Street? They said to come right in, and I'm glad they did. I'm also glad I discovered the place just three days before heading home, because otherwise I might have had an ethical dilemma about whether to spill the beans about the best-kept eating secret in town.

Mare (as in the sea, not the old grey mare) is a very cozy place on the site of the old Metro nightclub complex, with the restaurant on the first floor and the 8L Otto nightclub (a self-described "ultra-hip late night lounge with glowing walls and ostrich leather couches") in the back room. The inside of the restaurant has a low-key, blue-lit feel to it, and you can also eat outside in a courtyard and lounge on oversized red-velvet couches. A very young, black-clad waitstaff provided snappy service of excellent, reasonably-priced food. Especially notable were an extraordinary calamaretti fritti appetizer prepared with serious peppers, and a summer shellfish paella. The place reportedly fills up late on weekends but is an undiscovered gem for early-evening dining.


--Post-time reminders:

Friday 8/24: 1 p.m.
Saturday 8/25: 12:45 p.m.
Friday 8/31: 2:45 p.m.

steven_crist More than 1 year ago
Keith: No, we're apparently NOT "looking at the same racing form past performances." There's no such thing as "Beyers for a half-mile" -- you must be using someone else's pace ratings. But congrats on liking Judge's Pride.
Keith kohnhorst More than 1 year ago
Dear Steven Crist: Were you looking at the same racing form past performances as I was on August 24. I'll make a case for Judge's Pride: She had by far the fastest Beyers for a half mile-98-97 in her last two races and had just been flattered by Lady Rizzi, who had run second in Pride's last start. She was bumped at the start but still ran a respectable fifth in her last and had the highest Beyer (tied with the favorite)in the race. It was an incredibly weak 8 horse field and she had just beaten Mizzenkey, a 4-1, by 14 lengths. Her tainer, Gregory Deprima,doesn't have many horses, but he wins at a 20% clip and the horse had improved dramatically under his tutelage. Pride should have been 3-1, not 30-1 Thanks, Keith
Sean More than 1 year ago
Reagrding Judge's Pride in the 9th - my wife and I were at the paddock and she said "Wow that 9 looks great, up on his toes and ready to go look at everyone else -they looked dead" Gotta admit she was right - Damn if I only put more .....
Mike More than 1 year ago
Steve: Thank you for a great Saratoga column. A wonderful idea. I was wondering, you are presenting the winning trophy to Saturday's 5th race, aren't you? Although it would truly be better written for NY-state breds, still the 5 1/2 on the turf is just what we wanted on Travers' Day. I agree that these races fill nice niches at Delaware, Calder and the such, having them so prevalent on the NY circuit is just another reason why I don't devote as much time to NY racing as I had in the past. Again, thank you for your wonderful humor and writings this August, there are days that I read it and feel like I was there. As a final thought, here is one winner for Saturday: La Traviata in the 10th. She is a monster.
Bruce Friday More than 1 year ago
If you want to make a case for Thursday's 9th race winner, you have to look no further than the Moss Pace Figs in the DRF PPs. Judge's Pride had, by far, the highest Moss Figs in the race; seems useful in in 5 1/2 furlong sprint. And, by the way, Too Much Zip had the second highest Moss Figs and completed a nice exacta.
Larry G More than 1 year ago
Regarding your movie reveiw: A critic in the Crist family; Who'd a thunk it?
Upstate Joe More than 1 year ago
Sorry for the error. Thanks for the help everyone.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Still don't like these turf sprints, but geez, the payoffs on some of these lotteries are too great not to play em. George Weaver rolls on....too many good runners in the last week to even mention. Down to the last week or so of the meet-make it count. Look for K Breen 2yr olds from Mth and R Bailes bombs from Del/Md....keep it up Steve!!!!
McFarren More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to have Judge's Pride in the finale yesterday and it wasn't because of my picking skills. I picked it because 1) Steve Matthews in Newsday wrote this... "Judge's Pride makes turf debut and may play out as the main speed while pulling seven to 13 pounds from the field; very playable at hefty odds." AND my nickname in college was "Judge". Sometimes you need to get lucky. I really enjoy the Blog!
Upstate Joe More than 1 year ago
Steve, First, I have to say I LOVE the blog. I have always enjoyed and was devoted to reading the twice a week Saratoga report. The blog is great because I can read it twice a day rather then twice a week. Also, I truly enjoyed both your books, and as a younger player (late 20’s) who was taught the game by my grandfather as a kid, before these bets were prevalent, Exotic Betting has opened up new wagers that I have never played before this season. Thank You. Now, for a question; as far as I can tell the bettors on the Pick Six for Travers Day are going to be shorted because of today’s carryover. The carryover of about $75,000 is going to up the take out percentage from 15% to 25%, so with the guaranteed $1 Million Pool for Travers, the betting public is going to actually LOSE AT LEAST $25,000! Is this true, or is there something to prevent that from happening.