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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saratoga Notes

Since I posted this horror list of McLaughlin's recent two-year old first-time starters, he did score a winner on Saturday, for Darley, with Liston (Storm Cat), a Stonerside homebred who won by a length with a 77 Beyer. Little surprise given the connections and breeding (a half brother to the highly disappointing Country Star) that he was 9-5 (in a field consisting entirely of first-time starters).

However, the barn added three more losers to the list: Hatheer was second by a length as the 6-5 favorite last Thursday, and then two more ugly ones: Common Currency was 5th by 14 1/2 on Sunday....and on Monday, Ready for Change, another beautifully bred Stonerside/Darley homebred (AP Indy out of champion Ajina)was 6th by 47 lengths at odds of 3-1!! If you take the seven McLaughlin two-year old first-timers who have gone off at odds of 5-1 or less and lost at the Spa, they did so by an average of 15 lengths; and that's including the one who lost by just one. That's pretty bizarre. So I think that this barn is obviously being way overbet in this category at this particular meet, and I'll continue to beware.

- Nice return to the races for Gayego; in hand after an awkward beginning, and home in furlongs of 11.45 and 11.54. He earned a Beyer of 99 for six furlongs in 1:09.25. "He's probably a little better at seven furlongs or a mile than he is at six," said Godolphin Guy Rick Mettee [Schenectady Gazette], who said the horse will be pointed for one race or another in the Breeders Cup. Because that's what one is supposed to do with their top horses - send them to the year-end championships.

- Top Lass ($30.80) was the second longshot winner in a row for trainer James Ferraro, who scored with Heavenly Blaze ($51.50) on Saturday.

And another winner each for Linda Rice and George Weaver, coming in the late double.

- If Sunday was the final free summer concert of the season for me, as it appears it may be, it certainly came to a fittingly climactic conclusion with a fierce performance by Dinosaur Jr at Central Park. Don't know what else to say about this band - it's the 4th time I've seen them since their reunion - except that these guys are in prime form, performing at a level of virtuosity that I don't often see in a guitar/bass/drums rock trio (though Mission of Burma's show ranked in the same category). Murph's jackhammer drumming and the ingenious bass attack by Lou Barlow (releasing a solo album this fall and opening with his band for much of the next leg of Dinosaur Jr.'s tour, could make any guitarist sound good; throw in guitar God J Mascis and his infectious songs, and you have quite a special band. Moody, melodic cacophony, as described in the Times.

As I've mentioned, their excellent (there I go with the superlatives again) new album Farm is available on Jagjaguwar Records. And Dino Jr will perform at two venues in or near two of my favorite places on earth, both of which I've been lucky enough to be able to visit this summer - October 4 at Northern Lights in Clifton Park, 10-15 minutes or so south of Saratoga; and November 4 at Belly Up, in beautiful Solana Beach, right around the corner from Del Mar. And, better yet, they will return to New York on November 21, when they will play with Sonic Youth, former labelmates back in the 90's on both the classic Indie labels Homestead and SST.

Preceding Dinosaur Jr was an excellent set by The Walkmen. And Friday night was the final show of the season at the South Street Seaport. On record, Brooklyn's School of Seven Bells are about lush production and the Cocteau Twins-ish vocals of twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. Live, they were all about the guitar played by Benjamin Curtis, formerly of Simple Machines; at least to me. Their latest album, Alpinisms, is available on Ghostly International.