07/26/2006 12:00AM

Litfin's Saratoga plays for Thursday, July 27


The good news from opening day is that both plays met their minimum odds requirement; the bad news is that both Judy Soda and Pulpiteer were soundly beaten.

Judy Soda might rate the benefit of the doubt, because the track seemed to favor inside speed types and she managed to hold third after chasing front-running Samsincharge in the Rogues Walk, an overnight stake for statebred fillies and mares.

No excuse, however, for Pulpiteer, who had dead aim on the leaders turning for home in the nightcap and backed out of contention.

Oh well, 35 days' worth of opportunity remains.

Race 4: The card for day #2 is fraught with danger. The early daily double is comprised of a steeplechase at 2 1/16 miles and a maiden dash for 2-year-old fillies that features several well-connected types with designer pedigrees. The stake is the Sanford, in which Scat Daddy looms 1-5 against four rivals, three of whom are maidens.

We're going to put all of our proverbial eggs in one basket and take a shot in the fourth race, a maiden special-weight on the inner turf at one mile, against Captive Melody, who has finished second in all three of her starts, including two as the even-money favorite at Belmont where she had good trips.

Art Critic, meanwhile, finished last of 12 in her only start as a 2-year-old, which was a turf sprint on soft ground at Newmarket last October. She is related to several European stakes winners, and is also a half-sister to Performing Magic, winner of the Illinois Derby and the Remington Park Derby, so she should appreciate stretching out in distance.

More importantly, she has a big-time owner, and her trainer is now Bill Mott, who regularly has turf horses ready to fire in their first start back from a long layoff.

Art Critic is 6-1 on the track's morning line. We'll settle for a fraction of that.

The bet: $50 to win on Art Critic (turf only; minimum odds 5-2).

Total wagers opening day: $50

Total return opening day: $0

Total win/loss opening day: minus $50