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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Notes - Sept 2

- John Pricci, writing at, posted an in depth report on Friday's meeting at which the New York horsemen aired their complaints about track conditions not only at Saratoga, but at the downstate tracks as well. The complaints concern the state of the dirt tracks for the morning workouts, and specifically, track superintendent John Passero's frequent sealing of the tracks after the afternoon's races even when there's no rain in the area. NYTHA president Richard Violette told Bloodhorse: “We are not happy with the track being sealed when there isn’t rain in the forecast east of the Mississippi.” The horsemen claim that the sealing is causing the tracks to be too hard in the mornings, especially before the daily break for harrowing. Violette said: "Lots of us are scared to death to breeze a horse before the [8:15 a.m. renovation] break.

The whispers about a larger-than-normal attrition rate from training injuries suffered in morning workouts traveled up the Northway months before any horses did. Track maintenance procedures had rendered the surfaces too compact, too hard. []
In a subsequent posting on Saturday, Pricci quotes Violette has specifying Belmont as the main problem. “The track here has been good but the weather has been idyllic. The problem was at Belmont [this spring].” And now, horsemen and NYRA are not even agreeing on what they may or may not have agreed to. Violette claims that NYRA committed to eliminating the nightly hard rolling of the track, but Hayward responded “Those were Rick’s words, not our words....We promised at a meeting with five other horseman before [the open meeting] that we would look at it. In the next two weeks we could come up with a new policy.” Furthermore, Passero flatly stated that he won't be making any changes.

But even though the two sides are not quite seeing eye-to-eye, the exchanges lack the rancor that was prevalent before the horseman's group split from Empire. So hopefully this will be worked out to the horsemen's and, most importantly, the horses' satisfaction soon.

- Can you believe it - two more winners for Linda Rice at Saratoga on Saturday. She's now won the last five races in which she's had runners, though she had an entry in Saturday's ninth, and only one of them won. I'm not sure how that effects any consecutive winner streak as far as the record books go. She's so hot that I'm surprised they didn't finish in a dead heat. She also moved her into a tie with the Toddster, who has started twice as many runners, with 12 wins at the meet. I wonder what the odds would have been on a head-to-head proposition on those two.

Bob Baffert may just change his opinion of Polytrack and be thankful for its existence. Otherwise, he may not have come to Saratoga to win five out of eight races here, including two graded stakes (thus far, with Maimonides slated for the Hopeful on Monday). Midnight Lute was his third consecutive winner, and a dominating (and extremely well bet) one at that. High Finance was the clear choice of the morning oddsmaker at 2-1, but Midnight Lute (6-1 [these morning line odds before the scratch of 5-1 Chatain]) got bet to 5-2. I wasn't around to see how the betting went, but I think you could almost say that High Finance was dead on the board at 2-1. Where were all those West Point partners?

Midnight Lute's win was actually somewhat similar visually to that of Lawyer Ron. He stayed in close attendance to the pace - and a contested one in this case, as Attila's Storm, as expected, gave High Finance a rough time. And, like the Woodward winner, he took over when ready, with ease, and drew away once getting to the stretch. The final time was 1:21.06; final 3/8ths in 35.82 seconds.

The Beyer boys will once again have to use their imagination in conjuring up a fig for Lawyer Ron, as the Woodward was the only two turn race of the day on the main track. The final time of 1:48.60 was exactly two seconds slower than his Whitney, which got a 116 (projected down from the 120+ number that the raw figures suggested). He came home the last 3/8ths in 36.15 that day; on Saturday, that fraction was 38.15. And remember he was three wide both turns in the Whitney. So I think it's fair to say that he bounced....and perhaps also that the horses behind him didn't run that well at all. I'd guess that they'll figure that he regressed a few points and give him something like a 110-112.