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Final Saratoga Journal for Tuesday
The final 31 of the 336 races that constituted Saratoga 2006 included four Grade 1's, the only double-carryover of the meeting, a jockeys' race that technically went down to the final day, seven trainers getting their first and only winner at the stand, and plenty of chances for the likes of me to get even.
SATURDAY, September 2
Race 1: King Hoss ($5.60) had been getting hooked and cooked running 46-to-48-second opening halves on the grass in his last four, switches to dirt here, gets loose in 49.41 and 1:14.73, and cruises to four-length victory over N2L $30k claimers for Stronach/Kimmel and previously 2-for-48 Mike Smith. Winner timed in 1:53.81 in first of day's three nine-furlong dirt routes including featured Woodward. Bird Mountain fifth after saddle slips early under Suffolk rider Tejera.
Race 2: First and much slower division of 6.5-furlong baby race goes to firster Kong's Revenge ($24.40), first of 23 Paraneck Stable starters at meeting to run 1-2-3. The $100k Dixie Union yearling collars drifting-out Giveityourbestshot at eighth pole, draws off by 6 + under Cornelio V in 1:19.31 for trainer Alan Klanfer - who reportedly missed his lone Spa winner because he was saddling a horse at Finger Lakes.
Race 3: Five-horse N1x route could be an important race for both its winner and time. Diamond Stripes ($4.80), $3-year-old Four Roses/Dutrow gelding rested since last-to-first debut victory going mile at Belmont July 12, stretches out successfully with good-looking 3 +-length victory over Political Action in 1:50.94. Time just 0.29 second slower than Woodward later on, and there's no evidence of a change in track speed elsewhere during card. Future stakes horse, slow Woodward, or both?
Race 4: Five of nine 2-year-old statebred fillies here emerging from same Aug. 14 turf sprint where no one but victorious Hold That Thought did much running. Just for action, I make my smallest bet of the meeting throw out all five and boxing the remaining four for all of $2. Woulda coulda shoulda bet more, as 18-1 Galluscio firster Don't Mind Me and 24-1 dirt-to-turf Cox-to-Ritvo second-timer Tishmeister combine for $441 exacta. Don't Mind Me ($39.80), Freud filly purchased in April for $39k, goes 5 + on grass in 105.62 under Santos, who won two races in first 23 days of meeting, seven in final 12.
Race 5: Unaffected($7.10), 3-year-old maiden who blew six-length lead after zipping opening half in 44.82 here 8/11, gets clear with easier 45.87 half today, scampers home by 8 + in 1:04.66 for Hushion/Migliore. Favored Coronado's Strike, making first start since second to Court Folly at Keeneland 10 months ago, no-excuse distant runner-up in disappointing comeback.
Race 6: Pick six with $71k carryover from Friday begins with firster-loaded second division of baby race. Tiz Wonderful, Blasi firster and $475k February sales purchase off blazing breeze-up, seems cold on board at 5-1 but maybe those in the know just singled him in pick-six. Tiznow colt takes over from Tater Tutt after half in 46.13 and draws off by 12 + under Gomez like a very serious runner in 1:17.60, 10 lengths (1.71 seconds) faster than first division. Winner earns meet-high juvenile Beyer of 99.
Race 7: Veteran trainer Joe Lostritto breaks through in 18th start at meet with freshened-since-April statebred turf maiden Allaboutmack ($11.40), who he also bred and owns. Langfuhr colt wins by half-length in 1:52.92 on inner under Santos, followed by parade of longshots - 77-1 Brushed Prince, 58-1 Kings Commotion and 31-1 Capstoneclearance - to trigger meet-high payoff of $210,562 for $2 in superfecta. Pool was only $140k, however, so actual $105k payoff (after takeout) reflects one winning $1 ticket.
Race 8: Highly-anticipated return of Commentator in G1 Forego Handicap fizzles when 4-to-5 gelding breaks very slowly from inside, rushes up but never gets close, and fades badly late. Instead it's third choice Pomeroy ($14.20), who leads most of the way on what could be first truly speed-biased track since opening day, winning a graded stakes at Spa for third straight year ('04 G1 Kings Bishop at 9-2, '05 G2 Vanderbilt at 7-2, both for Biancone.) Sold last fall to Silverleaf Farm and turned over to trainer Marty Wolfson, Pomeroy wins by 2 + and runs the seven furlongs in 1:23.39 under John Velazquez, good for a 107 Beyer. Second choice War Front chases throughout and just holds second by a neck over 36-1 Friendly Island. Winner and third finisher both emerging from July 15 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder won by Nightmare Affair, who runs an even sixth here.
Race 9: Move of Woodward Stakes to Saratoga seems like a good idea when an interesting field of 10 shows up, but only 2 + of them really show up once the gate opens. It's 21-1 Second of June on the inside and 31-1 Premium Tap on the outside who go head and head from the start and they're still there nine furlongs and 1:50.65 later with Premium Tap proving a half-length the best. Favored Sun King is third, three-quarters behind the top pair, without firing anything like the shots he did to miss narrowly in the Met Mile and Whitney. Even more disappointing are second choice Flower Alley, who runs a no-excuse seventh and appears nothing like the horse he was a year ago; third choice Suave, who steadily fades to last after being bounced around at the start; and Funny Cide, who chases top pair early but fades to eighth at 11-1. Premium Tap, late-blooming 4-year-old by Pleasant Tap trained by Kimmel, beat Sun King in an overnight stakes at Belmont in July but then was a dull fifth at 33-1 in the Invasor/Sun King Whitney.
Race 10: Fete ($8.60), winner for Rick Dutrow here six days ago and claimed by Levine, runs even bigger here stepping up from $25k to $35k and romping by 5 + in 1:11.68 under Prado. Fete claimed by Tony Dutrow from this spot for $35k, as are three others: Back Bay Baron goes from Blasi to Ortiz, Ocean Forest from Romans to Persaud, Riproarious from Lake to Blasi.
Race 11: Keen Lassie($12.80), 1 for 18 statebred filly turfer who woke up when switched from Leo to Keith O'Brien in her last, runs in Leo's name today to give the Fourstardave man his first winner of the meeting, running down favored My Interpretation by half-length after mile in 1:39.05. No live tickets into finale, so there's the first double-carry of the meet with a $335k pot going into?..
SUNDAY, September 5
Race 1: Predicted Ernesto-related deluge never hits and there's just light, incidental rain falling as Wood Winner ($5.60) takes $20k 3-year-old claimer by 2 + in 1:25.54, second of the meet for Sciacca and 43rd for Prado, who now holds 43-38 lead over Gomez with 19 races to go.
Race 2: Mr. Component($3.30), troubled second to runaway winner Say Revain in Aug. 12 older statebred maiden debut, breaks better but runs less impressively today, gutting out half-length win over 28-1 Executive Search in 1:25.84 for McLaughlin/Jara.
Race 3: Very slow pace, very fast finish for Getcozywithkaylee ($4.30), Dutrow claim three back and 44.80 pacesetter in G3 Arlington sprint stake last out. Here she walks to lead in 47.13 against N4x rivals, sprints home in 35.62 to beat '04 Astarita winner Toll Taker by three. Looks like end of the road for In The Gold, distant fourth in her eighth straight lengthy loss since taking '05 G1 Gazelle.
Race 4: Hither Lane ($12.20), rare Clement-trained dirt sprinter, may have stakes future after winning N1x dirt sprint in fourth career start in 1:09.75 under Velazquez, good for Beyer of 99. Three-year-old by Mr. Greeley scores by 3 + over 31-1 Miner's Lamp, subject of $50 win bet in attempt to generate "free" $1500 to play impossible-looking pick-six.
Race 5: Pick-six carryover attracts additional $1.18 million in wagers, including un-free $1440 from me. Opener is lone race switched to dirt in anticipation of storms, 1 1/16-mile 2-year-old grass race cut back to seven-furlong dirt race in which almost everyone stays in despite surface switch. Skullbusting 13-horse field includes five firsters, two first-dirters, and six who have run without coming close to winning. The public makes a Mott entry of two grass-meant firsters 2-1, other 10 betting interests open between 6-1 and 13-1. I'm immediately thinned down to a tiny backup ticket when none of the firsters is any good and third-time starter Sipsey ($16.00), distant second for $75k last out, runs down fourth-time starter Piggott in dull 1:24.99 for Contessa/Gomez.
Race 6: Still alive after overlaid Lunar Rendezvous ($16.80) gets through on rail in fast-paced $35k older-filly sprint, catches Embraceable You and draws off by 2 + for Hushion/Migliore in 1:17.62. No one takes first two finishers but third-place Jules for A.J. moves from Klesaris to Miceli, fourth-place Genuine Miss Dutrow to Contessa, seventh-place Birthday Song Levine to Schosberg.
Race 7: My single and everyone else's, Imperial Reign ($3.90), keeps hope alive with a front-running 1 +-length victory over second choice Autobahn Girl. Imperial Reign, 2-year-old Indian Charlie filly purchased for $1 million by darley at March 2-year-old sale, was troubled second to Five Star Daydream in Aug. 10 debut, improves here for Eoin Harty and Gomez, now just three behind Prado.
Race 8: G3 Saranac Stakes for 3-year-old turfers draws competitive field of nine where only five lengths will separate first seven under wire. The threadbare ticket almost survives when Devil's Preacher surges to the lead midstretch under Prado, but along comes Jersey Derby runner-up Rock Lobster($19.20) to nail him late by a neck under Coa. Rock Lobster, second starter and first winner at the meet for Michael Dickinson, runs the 9 + furlongs in 1:57.36 in fast-paced grass race where horses running 5-6-7-8-9 early are first five under wire.
Race 9: Appealing Zophie comes into G1 Spinaway off sharp second in Mountaineer stake that earned her the top figure and made her look like the lone speed, but she goes off the 9-2 third choice as the public flocks to slower Schuylerville winner Cotton Blossom and Delaware debut winner X star, both 2-1. Appealing Zophie ($11.60) goes right to the front under Bridgmohan in 45.74, opens six-length lead after six in 1:10.48, costs home by 5 + in 1:23.79. Cotton Blossom up for second by head over X Star in final strides. Appealing Zophie, $150k Successful Appeal filly purchased at 2-year-old sale by Helligbrodt for $150k, won her April debut at Keeneland by 10 +, off until runner-up Aug. 6 Mountaineer race behind Change Up that earned winner a 98 Beyer. Appealing Zophie gets an 83 here, question now is whether she'll stretch out and withstand pace pressure in longer races ahead.
Race 10: Nine of these 10 filly maiden-claiming turfers are covered in the pick six, at payoffs ranging from $62k to $1.002 million. The only uncovered one is Massachusetts-bred second-timer Ydy, who sprints to lead and is still in front turning for home. Three-day carryover into closing day with $5 million feeding frenzy? Alas no, as Ydy stops and Irish Ballerina ($15.40), Arlington import making first start for Bobby Barbara, scores by 3 + to give Velazquez his third of the day and nine ticketholders a square payoff of $111,437 apiece.
MONDAY, September 4
Race 1: Prep School ($18.60), who made big middle-move behind repeater Big Prairie in Aug. 5 N1x turfer, handled more patiently today with switch to Cornelio V, comes running late to nail perpetual bridesmaid Operation Red Dawn by 1 + in first of the day's three 11-furlong turf marathons. Fourth winner of the meet for Sheppard, three of them in last five days.
Race 2: Limoncella ($29.00), who stopped in two previous tries, just keeps going in 2-year-old filly maiden turfer, scoring by 2 + over late-running Dutrow firster Saint Chi Chi. Winning daughter of Lemon Drop Kid trained by Carlos Martin is timed in 1:46.11 for soggy 1 1/16 miles under Coa, who rebounded from awful start at meeting to end up fifth in standings with 27 winners.
Race 3: Unusual starter allowance route for statebreds who have ever started for a claiming tag looks like soft spot for stakes-winner Win With Beck, but strong pace on tiring track drains him and Delta Sea ($17.80) swoops by field for 5 +-length runaway. First winner of meet for trainer Jimmy Ferraro, 44th for Prado.
Race 4: G1 Hopeful Stakes, run early on card California-style due to four betting interests, features five legitimate 2-year-olds in the division's first Grade 1 race of the year. Race unfolds as expected with strong pace as Saratoga maiden winners Pegasus Wind and Irish Ace hook up in 22.36 and 44.88 with Scat Daddy and Unbridled Express just in behind them and Circular Quay the distant trailer. Turning for home, the stalkers make their moves and they're four abreast in upper stretch, but Circular Quay is just starting to roll. Gomez jerks him to the outside for clear running and they swoop by the other four to win by 4 + going away in 1:23.00. Scat Daddy holds for second in a good effort after stumbling early and steadying twice to give Pletcher a 1-2 finish and four wins and three seconds in Saratoga's six graded juvenile stakes. Circular Quay, a Tabor family homebred from their runners Thunder Gulch and Circle of Life, is now 3-for-3 and the clear division leader with victories in the Bashford Manor and Hopeful. His figures have improved with each start and additional distance (83-84-95). Question now is whether he waits five weeks for the Champagne, just three weeks before the BC Juvenile, or tries two turns somewhere else a week earlier, the spacing Pletcher prefers.
Race 5: Mandatory-payout closing-day pick-six begins with free bingo square as Iron Goddess ($3.00), 3-year-old More Than Ready filly second at 3-5 to colts here in debut just six days ago, finds statebred fillies much easier and wallops them by 9 + under Prado in 1:24.54 under a hold for Hushion/Prado.
Race 6: Carlos Martin gets his second of the day when tough-to-like On The Catwalk ($15.20), a desperate winner over N2L claimers here Aug. 12, comes right back to beat tougher open claimers in an improved effort, scoring by 1 + after running down loose leader Classic Marilyn in slow-paced race. Victory leaves Gomez technically alive for riding title at 45-42 disadvantage with four to go, me technically alive for pick-six on tiny backup ticket with four to go.
Race 7: League of Nations ($7.90), A. P. Indy-Clear Mandate filly nailed final jump by Dancing Forever in Aug. 12 finale, breaks maiden in ninth try with 1 +-length victory for Arnold/Santos in 2:18.58 on inner turf. Runner-up Greenery, Galileo filly making belated debut for Claiborne, impressive running second at 11 furlongs in career debut, worth following.
Race 8: The dream dies for Gomez and me as Prado keeps Moya ($25.80) going late to hold off 4-5 Biancone filly Pure Incentive, dropping from stakes second against colts into filly N1x. Moya, only other filly in field who tried stakes last out, stalks glacial 1:16.34 pace, prevails by length for McGaughey's sixth of the meet as Leparoux gets favorite going belatedly. Prado and Gomez done winning for the meet and top rider standings with 46 and 42 winners,
Race 9: G3 $100k Glens Falls Stakes, perhaps due for a purse boost and upgrade to G2 status, looks like showdown between G2 winners Olaya and Noble Stella, who spent much of year running second and third behind Honey Ryder in turf marathons. Olaya never fires but Noble Stella ($10.00) turns in a sparkler, sitting behind the rank Sabellina for a mile until Mike Smith says go, then collaring her to win comfortably by two over Latice. Noble Stella runs the 11 furlongs in a fine 2:16.02, more than two full seconds faster than afternoon's other two races at the distance to give Roger Attfield his first training win of the meet and Smith, who will have a new agent in former trainer Phil hauswald when Belmont opens, his fourth.
Race 10: My NYRA One account balance stands at $0.45 after betting my last $115 in win savers to two of the five horses I'm not covered with in pick fours in this statebred N1x. There's no way I can get out for the meeting but it would be nice to have something to play with when Belmont opens Friday without a rebuy. Things break the best way when repeater D Money ($15.00) storms from last at the top of the stretch to nail saver-only Helene's Dream at the wire, completing an overlaid $5,888 pick-four and a $44k getaway pick-six for four wiser bettors. D Money, third winner of the meet for Del Carroll and 22nd for Castellano, made similar last-to-first move to win by neck at 32-1 here Aug. 13, benefits from quick pace that cooks choices Say Revain, Democrat and Mr. Bourbon Street.
It's over. I lost for the meet but I had plenty of fun, came close to a couple of scores, saw plenty of interesting and outstanding racing, ended on a high note and, heaven help me, can't wait for racing to resume on Friday. Thanks for listening, and Saratoga Journal will be back in a mere 324 days.