- Don't forget to bet on Evangeline's races Sunday night; see below for my analysis of the second race, and links to picks by my fellow bloggers.
- Well, we’re back upstate, through Sunday, lured by the perfect weather and an $89 hotel room (offset partially by gas at $3.29 per gallion.) I’ll never quite get used to Saratoga in September. Labor Day always meant Belmont Park, and it just seems as if everyone has overstayed their welcome just a bit. Man, it’s quiet, even though the crowd picked up to a shade under 14,000.
Jerry Bossert of the NY Daily News is one that feels that you've just got know when to say "When."
With the traditional closing weekend stakes races shuffled to earlier in the meet, tomorrow's uninspiring Forego is the only Grade I race remaining on the Spa calendar. It could easily be run at Belmont, which is where we all should be after Travers weekend ends.
Since NYRA seems determined to maintain a six-week meet, racing should start a week earlier and end with the last weekend in August as the grand Travers finale. Everyone would then have a few days to ship back downstate, with Belmont opening on Labor Day weekend. Belmont quiets down after the July 4th weekend, so starting the meet up here in mid-July should not damage business. It might even be stronger than the dead final week after the Travers. The Travers is the most anticipated race of every Spa meet, and once it's over, it feels like the meet is, too. It should be.
I’m thinking it was time for me to say “When” based on my futile performance on Friday. I’m pretty relaxed though, as I will have had a profitable meet regardless of what I do here this weekend. I wasn’t even close, except for my final bet, the 6th from Arlington.
John Ward had a hot first timer in the third. Dr. Pleasure is a 2 yo colt by Thunder Gulch, out of multiple G1 stakes winner Beautiful Pleasure. Also taking money was Zito’s Regent Spirit, who was similarly bet in his debut just a week ago. Unusual to see Zito run one back so quickly. Dr. Pleasure broke a bit slowly, but moved three wide on the turn and drew away to extremely impressively. Reader Jim wrote to say that this colt would "crash the party for First Samurai and Henny Hughes. His race today was the best for any of the 2yos this meet."
Later, Ward was accompanying another starter to the paddock and I overheard him telling a railbird that Dr. Pleasure "wasn’t supposed to come off the pace.” Of course, I was pretty far away so he really could have been telling the guy to “get the f--- out of my face.”
Except for the other division for the 2 yo maidens, this was a card of mostly full fields and open betting races; and there wasn’t a single state-bred race on the card. Where has this stuff been all summer?
The 5th was a 50K maiden claimer, and Phil Serpe’s dropdown Mr. Fourth of July was bet down to 2-1 from 6-1 in the morning line. Meanwhile, Steve Asmussen, who has an excellent record with horses making their debut in maiden claiming events, had 7-2 morning line Doc Hook, who I’d used in some busted Pick 3s. He opened at 7-1, and basically just stayed there, dead on the board despite Bailey riding. This is the type of horse I throw out with confidence - he might as well have been 20-1 to me - and I considered those Pick 3 wagers using him as wasted. Mr. Fourth of July bolted on the turn and 16-1 Senza Aglio got the money. I was nowhere with Shade the Cat, nor with Vous in the 6th, which was taken by a 29-1 overlay, the cooly named Theatrics Ofdance, who I had underneath on my exotics.
Talk about a 2 horse race! In the 7th, Asmussen’s Cab was 4-5, Darley Stable’s Testimony was 2-1, and the third choice was 11-1 Marrouche, who split the exacta with Cab on top. If my eyes aren't deceiving me, it's Asmussen's 9th 2 year old winner of this meet.
Up the track again in the 8th with Vous, as another longshot, 14-1 May Night, took the PG Johnson for 2 yo fillies on the turf. It was her first start on the surface.
In the 9th, Frankel’s had Wild Storm, a one time Chilean stakes winner who has done nothing but burn money here. I remember he was bet off the board when he ran a not close 3rd in his first race in almost a year a couple weeks ago, and again, the money poured in on the nose in the win pool. It was bad money after bad, as he reared at the start, rushed up to contention but faded to 4th. Ten Carat Ruby was the second winner in two days for trainer Eddie Kennealy. I went with my nemesis Richard Dutrow, but Childress was slow early and rallied for second. I passed the 10th in favor of the Arlington race, so at least I had a couple of close results to end the day. Perhaps I can mount a rally starting today – an 11 race card of full fields – jeez, where have these horses been all meet??
- Afleet Alex jogged on the track for the first time, and Tim Ritchey said he’s “99% healed” and should be OK to gallop in two weeks. However, he sounded cautionary regarding his chances of making the Breeders Cup.
"It would be an extremely hard task to get to the Breeders' Cup. The only way is if everything goes perfectly and I can find the right prep for him. But I've told the owners, let's just get him back and find a spot. There is always the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at the end of November, then we'll have a lot of races to choose from next year. It should be a fun experience." [Bloodhorse]