08/29/2006 11:00PM

Spa Stakes Play for Wednesday


Today's featured P. G. Johnson Stakes for 2-year-old fillies has been washed off the grass along with four of the day's eight other races. As of noon there are already 33 scratches off the card and the track condition after a dark day of steady rain is anyone's guess. If some idiot (me) hadn't promised to furnish a stakes play for every day of the meeting, I'd call it a day right now and start working on Thursday's card.

Races carded at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass normally become nine-furlong dirt routes when there's a surface switch, but because these are 2-year-olds the P. G. Johnson will be run at seven furlongs. So what we now have is a seven-horse dirt sprint that includes two maidens, two who have never raced on dirt, and three fillies who won maiden races at Evangeline, Colonial and Louisiana Downs with figures that normally wouldn't win a maiden race, much less a stakes, at Saratoga.

Every wiseguy is going to try to beat the Pletcher entrant, Brushed Gold, who won her debut on the grass here July 31, on the theory that she's purely a turf horse. I'll be a bigger wiseguy and take her, on the theory that she's the best horse in a spotty field, that she ran on the grass first time out as much for distance as for surface, and that a daughter of Touch Gold from a Broad Brush mare should be just fine on the dirt. Mud wouldn't hurt either.

So let's try a little pick-three through Brushed Gold, with the emphasis on the little. Ferocious Fires and Baby Rusch appear to tower over their statebred N2x rivals in the seventh, and there are only six warm bodies left in the finale, down from an initial field of 15. So for each $12 unit, and there won't be many of them, the play goes:

Race 7, $1 pick-three partwheel: 4,7/4/1,2,7,9,12,13 = $12