09/06/2008 12:49PM

Waiting for Hanna


12:45 pm: Bet early if not often today at Belmont: They're going to try to run 10 races between 1 p.m. and 4:53 p.m., shaving about six minutes from the usual gap between each race, trying to get the card in before the worst of the tropical storm hits Long Island.

Here's the deal so far on a dark, humid, tropical day where I'll be playing from home:

--It rained for several hours overnight, so the main track is "good" and the turf is being called yielding. Race 2 has been moved froom turf to dirt and the only other grass race on the card, the Grade 1 Garden City, will go off as early as 1:52 p.m.

--Indian Blessing has been scratched from the Grade 1 Ruffian, where post time is now scheduled for 4:26 p.m. Spring Waltz will now be the favorite. Baffert still has a Ruffian starter in Tough Tiz's Sis, though it's hard to know quite what to maker of her wet-track form: The only three times she has finished worse than third in a 19-race career are her only three starts on wet tracks, but considering what they were -- her career debut, the Kentucky Oaks and the BC Distaff -- maybe she wasn't going to run well anyway.

--There's a $38,907 pick-6 carryover from Opening Day, and the sequence is a rarity for Belmont: An all-dirt pick-6 without a single off-the-turfer. Fields of 7, 8, 8, 7, 8 and 10. The first leg, originally scheduled for 3:07, could now go as early as 2:42.

3:15 pm: Here comes the first batch of rain after the first half of the 10-race card went off under windy, humid and threatening skies.

Backseat Rhythm won the G1 Garden City in a sort of all-Big Brown-camp finish, as the winner is owned by Paul Pompa, Big Brown's original owner and still a 25 percent stakeholder, and runners-up Pure Clan and Ariege are primarily owned by IEAH Stables. Pompa and trainer Pat Reynolds showcased two impressive grass 2-year-olds last year, Big Brown and Backseat Rhythm, who beat future GSW's Country Star and Mushka in her turf debut. Backseat Rhythm returned to the turf this summer, and after a pace-pressing trip where she finished 7th behind Pure Clan in the American Oaks, she returned to her late-running game winning the G2 Lake Placid last time out, earning a Beyer of 99, tops in today's field. Still, she was one of three 9-2 shots behind the even-money IEAH entry of the field's only G1 winners.

Backseat Rhythm relaxed early today, racing alongside Pure Clan as Raw Silk led Alwajeeha through moderate fractions of 25.36, 49.98, 1:14.72 and 1:39.55 over the yielding course. Backseat Rhythm took the overland route through the stretch as Pure Clan worked her way through inside her, and the two were a little tight in the run to the wire, with Bakseat Rhythm prevailing by half a length in 1:51.82 for nine furlongs. Julien Leparoux, who rode Pure Clan, claimed foul against the winner and Castellano for possibly coming in under right-handed whipping. The stewards looked a repeated reruns of a rear view of the stretch run before deciding to leave the result alone.

The pick-6 started two races later and I made a moderate six-ticket play with two survivors after the first two legs. In the 5th, Violette firster Credit Limit ($10.00) won as an A, beating 2-1 Jerkens second-timer Who Plays Brahms. Pletcher dropdown Smarty Marty, pounded late to 2-1 favoritism, broke sharply but then took a funny step and was snatched up and ran an even fifth thereafter. Leg 2 was an inscrutable $10k claimer where I went six deep, virtually guaranteeing a victory by 2-1 favorite One Starry Nite ($6.90) as a B.

The live tickets:


They just announced that the main track has been sealed for the rest of the afternoon.

4:30 pm: We're into the tree-swaying-downpour portion of the storm program just in time for the Ruffian. The track was downgraded to sloppy after the 8th race, though it was plenty sloppy already for that event.

In the 7th, my two A's dingdonged to the wire with 5-2 Wolfson unfortunately getting there a long neck in front of rerallying 9-2 Dr. W, but the result remained uncertain for another five minutes after Bridgmohan claimed foul against the winner for coming over on him and Dr. W at the furlong pole. Much as I was rooting for a dq, the contact appeared incidental, Dr. W never lost position or momentum, and the stews probably did the right thing leaving it alone.

Arrrrr, racing without Tom Durkin to inspire him with a piratey bloodcry, ran fifth.

The 8th, a starter handicap for anyone who had run for a $14k tag since 1/1/06, was the mismatch it appeared on paper. Coyoteshighestcall ($4.10), third in the Claiming Crown Jewel last time out, carried 126 pounds, 8 to 13 more than his opponents, and still won in a romp.

Five minutes to post for the Ruffian. The Little Belle-Stage Luck Godolphin/Darley entry is a 5-2 favorite over Spring Waltz and Tough Tiz's Sis, both at 7-2.

4:45 pm:As noted earier, guess it was last year's Oaks and Distaff fields, rather than the sloppy tracks, that Tough Tiz's Sis didn't like. And I guess we know why Baffert scratched Inidian Blessing out of a Grade 1 race where she would have been a heavy favorite. Tough Tiz's Sis ($10.60) took over from Rite Moment after half a mile in 45.03, then opened up impressively to win the Ruffian by rainy daylight as Prado looked around and enjoyed the ride, beating 13-1 Copper State by 12 1/4 lengths. The winner got six furlongs in 1:09.04 and a mile in 1:34.03, finishing the 8.5f in splendid isolation and 1:40.46.

Nobody else in the race really fired at all, especially Spring Waltz and Little Belle, who checked in a distant fifth and sixth.

Tough Tiz's Sis, a 4-year-old Tiznow filly, has now won 8 of 20 career starts and two Grade 1's, the Ruffian and last year's Lady's Secret at Santa Anita, where she beat Hystericalady by a nose.

My three live pick-6's are the shortest ones, paying $2k to Vinnie Van Go and $3k to Aoja or Head Heart Hoof. All but one of the other seven starters are covered -- including $150k payoffs to Well Meant or Gold Prospect -- with only Hudson Heights capable of providing a $153 conso and a $150k carryover.

5:05 pm:Head Heart Hoof buried the field in the finale, opening up through an opening quarter in 22.60 and extending his lead thereafter, with fellow A's Vinnie Van Go and Aoja completing a chalky $81.50 triple. Counting consos, the $3,023 pick-6 got me about 2-1 on my money. Beats losing.

I wouldn't spend a lot of time on Sunday's card until we're sure that Belmont hasn't washed away by the morning. Everything's supposed to blow through by then, but it's going to pour for hours, and it's a safe bet that tomorrow's 1st, 2nd and 10th, if run at all, will be off the turf.

PKH More than 1 year ago
Steve Why don't you take a short trip up to Boston for the MassCap Sept. 20? Should be a decent race with Commentator, maybe Student Council, Grasshopper, etc. Would love to have you up here for the race.
kelso13 More than 1 year ago
alhattab, I attend the races in N.Y. on a daily basis,and I have a difficult time getting thru Mondays and Tuesdays,so this would be a bad idea for me personally.Also,the idea of more days at Aqueduct is completely unappealing to me.We already have 6+ months of Aqueduct and that is too much.Hope to see all you bloggers at Belmont this fall.
Shivermetimbers More than 1 year ago
Slewofdimascus.....What do you define as raw skill, always looking for handicapping insight, what book is your favorite,....new to the game. Can anybody else recommend a book? Also, I consider myself a fair handicapper and poor money manager...any tips or strategies?
chillywilly More than 1 year ago
Quick question? Anybody hear anything about Rosie Napravnick? She rides at Delaware and Laurel mostly. thanks
Teresa More than 1 year ago
I wrote about Head Heart Hoof on my site on Sunday morning; one of the horse's owners saw it and wrote to say that the name was adapted from the motto of his wife's school ("Head Heart Hand") and that he'd had no idea of the grim associations of the name he chose.
ElAngelo More than 1 year ago
Here's a better question: why don't they change the times between races on all cards at NYRA tracks to the way it was on Saturday, so 10 races are done by 5 pm? A major impediment to a lot of people playing the races, especially newcomers, is how long and slow the day is.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Steve, your P-6 wizardry is inspiring, also too that Crerdit Limit was an A for you. The action itself was a bit of a giveaway, but you didn't have that luxury, so well done there. That was my best bet of the day based on a special bit of [unorthodox] pedigree info that I uncovered. I am one of those handicappers who believes that there is no such thing as "too much" information. That probably stems from spending the first 12 years in the game without any real data - other than the form - to make selctions. I am spending this down time re-reading some handicapping classics, and that will include your p-6 playbook. If we could match my raw skill with your money management prowess, we'd kill, Steve. Kill. [Smile]
kelso13 More than 1 year ago
Steve, Head,Heart,Hoof "buries"the field.That was John Imbriale's call in Saturdays 10th race and that is how you described it in your blog entry.For those that are not aware: when a horse is buried the heart,hoof and head is what actually gets buried.What a wierd name for a racehorse. To Alhattab,2-3 more weeks of Aqueduct is not the answer.We already have 6 plus months of Aqueduct and that is more than enough.
mike More than 1 year ago
Hud, Can't say for sure but common sense dictates that "Selective" did not work at Sar on 8/24, Del Mar on 8/27 and back at Sar on the 8/31
alhattab More than 1 year ago
ElAngelo: I agree with your point. If needed saddle up before even getting to the paddock, then parade around. The day is too long. Kelso13: Thanks for your thoughts. What do you think of the overall premise that a break is needed after the Spa?