Man, what a rotten day on Saturday, another tough weather break for NYRA. Despite the fact that the heaviest rain didn't start until midway through the card, it was a crummy day to start with. Though they would have done well to crack five figures on a sunny day in my view, there certainly would have been more than the announced crowd of 7,000 even. The visibility was so bad that the guy who sits on the roof and counts the crowd gave up and just gave it his best guess.
The two prestigious Grade 1 grass stakes, smack dab in the middle of the Pick Four and Pick Six sequences, stayed on the turf, and damaged the courses enough to cause Sunday's three graded grass stakes races to be moved to the dirt.
"Worst-case scenario is run to turf races in the rain, it just rips up the course," Campo said. "There was nothing we could do."Canceling the races altogether would likely have necessitated refunding all the monies bet into the Pick Six and the $500K guaranteed Pick Four, so that was a non-starter for that and other reasons I'm sure. They could have taken them off the grass though. That would have made them "all" races for the Pick Six, and a fairer deal for the bettors considering how drastically the conditions changed from the time the bets were placed earlier in the day. I read that there were 2 1/2 inches of rain, certainly enough to cancel grass racing under any other circumstance.
Campo said canceling the turf races once they are carded and running them another day was not considered.
"We've never done that before," he said. [Daily Racing Form]
I didn't read any complaints about the course not being safe, but the bizarrely slow times showed how much of a bog the courses were. When they went 26 4/5 in the first quartr of the Flower Bowl, a guy behind Handride and I remarked that it was a fast harness quarter. But in the Joe Hirsch, Interpatation ran his second quarter in 28 1/5, which is an average if not slow split at the trotters these days. It shows you just how tiring that course must have been that, even after running so slowly early, these Grade 1 animals (a category which I hesitatingly put the winner) slowed down considerably in the final quarter relative to the one before. If anything, I'd think that these horses got some good conditioning for their next race which, for runner-up Gio Ponti, will be the Classic.
"Because of what he's done so far on turf -- winning four Grade 1 races in a row -- we don't think he's got much more to prove on the grass in America," Clement said. "I believe that the mile and a quarter of the Classic is the perfect distance for him and I'm very excited about the prospect of running him there because I think the artificial surface is very fair for both turf and dirt horses. [Brisnet]I certainly can't criticize Summer Bird for another Grade 1 win just because it again came in the slop. But it's just my nature to be skeptical until proven otherwise; and the fact is that he hasn't won a stakes on a dry track other than at the freaky mile and a half distance of the Belmont.
However, having said that, depending on who shows up for the Classic, you could be looking at 6-1 or 8-1 or more. Somewhere in there is a price that could make taking a shot on a Belmont/Travers/JCGC winner worthwhile. Quality Road could be an interesting contender too, but Pletcher seems hesitant about the synthetic track.
Three winners for the Toddster on Sunday. Ailalea ($14) stretched out successfully to graduate in the 4th; she's a Pulpit half-sister, out of a Woodman mare, to the stakes winning Spritely, and this is the distaff family of Stevie Wonderboy (standing at Airdrie for $15,000). Dad's Crazy ($10.20) (Langfuhr) was the longest shot in the three-horse Pilgrim having lost all three of his career starts, all on the grass. And Eskendereya ($7.20) took the Miss Grillo; she's by Giant's Causeway out of a Seattle Slew mare, and she's a half-sister to Balmont, a two-time G1 sprint winner in the UK.