Trainer Chad Brown has sent out three first-time starters at Saratoga and won with them all; two of them were part of Javier Castellano's five race winning streak (and one of them, Stand Proud ($27) was picked on top by my buddy Discreet Picks, one of three of his winning selections on the day).
OK, so maybe Devil May Care isn't quite as overrated as I thought. Another spectacularly easy-looking win in the CCA Oaks could make one understand why Pletcher thought highly enough of this filly to run her in the Derby. Johnny V may get a stiff neck from riding her if he keeps having to look over his shoulder for nonexistent competition. On the other hand, she again didn't beat any monsters; and a couple of horses that I thought would step up and improve did not do so, as evident from the moderate Beyer of 96 which did not show any progression on the part of the winner. So I'm figuring that I'll still make some money betting against her at some point down the road.
Desert Key ($8.80) took the 4th on Sunday, breaking a seven race losing streak going back two years and including five occasions when he was favored at odds less than 2-1. They could have run this race 1,000 times, and I would never have had the winner! Two of the three entered for the optional 50K tag were taken; David Jacobsen (surprise) nabbed the midwest shipper American Classic, a disappointing sixth, from the Toddster; and Chris Englehart took Be Bullish, who hasn't won in his last 11 tries; good luck with that.
I don't really see how they can continue to give Grade 2 status to summer juvenile races such as the Sanford which serve merely as entry level allowance races these days. Seven of the eight runners were coming directly off their graduation day; makes it more or less a complete tossup betting-wise too. Maybesomaybenot ($21.20) is by the Japanese sire Sunday Break out of an Olympio mare; not much on the catalog page to report. He earned a Beyer of 82, and seems no more likely to make any stakes noise than any number of Saratoga maiden winners we'll see this summer.
Rachel Alexandra is back at Saratoga after laboring to beat a highly mediocre field at Monmouth. Can't imagine the extra purse money that the money-losing racetrack doled out to attract her paid off with not even 13,000 fans in attendance on an oppressively hot day; and not much of an aesthetic triumph either. The Daily News makes up a story about a possible matchup with Zenyatta in the mile and a quarter Personal Ensign at Saratoga today; and though Charlie Hayward says he's contacted her connections, there's presently no reason to imagine that will happen.
"I have no idea," said Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, the wife of trainer John Shirreffs and the racing manager for Jerry and Ann Moss, who own the undefeated Zenyatta. "We're trying to decide that. We have not confirmed anything yet. We're looking at several options."I like where Hayward emphasized that the distance would not be shortened for Rachel's spoiled connections, though he left open the possibility of raising the purse. If Jess Jackson needs that extra incentive to run his horse at the nation's (arguably) showcase track in the matchup that everyone wants to see, then he doesn't belong in this game. Period.