NYRA did its best to spin Friday's rainy opening day at Saratoga as a rousing success, even resorting to comparing it to the corresponding day last year, when racing was held at Belmont.
Today’s attendance of 23,178 dropped 8.9 percent from 25,444 at 2009’s opener but soared 307 percent over the 5,695 at Belmont Park Friday.Talk about your meaningless statistics! C'mon man, that's like comparing last night's attendance at the Yankees game to last Friday when they were on the road!
“Our business today far surpassed last year’s at Belmont Park and we’re confident of an excellent Saratoga meet as soon as the weather cooperates.” [NYRA Press Release (the 10th of 11 to arrive in my inbox on Friday)]Oh please.
However, I said I'm not going to be negative anymore, and the weather outlook happily looks pretty good for the next several days, so let's move on. Races 1 and 3 today are off the turf.
In the 8th, Persuading (5-1) cuts back to a sprint after a decent two-turn try at Churchill.....thank goodness for the shippers from that track, who always liven up the racing here (and they'll need it this year). Hard to say exactly which way this daughter of Broken Vow will go; she closed off a hot pace to graduate, and then set one herself in her first try against winners. She held well that day at this distance before succumbing late to Tiger's Song, who was on a form spree for Catalano and was favored next out in an overnight stakes at Churchill (before being pulled up and vanned off). I imagine she'll be forwardly placed here (and she'll benefit from the scratch of Happy Week). Solid five furlong work for this, and I'm looking for further progression here. Nice breeding; she's a half to the Hollywood Prevue winner Belgravia, and this is the distaff family of Afleet Alex (the second dam of Persuading is the third dam of Afleet Alex). Patience Drive (8-1) returns off a layoff for Seth Benzel; four-year old daughter of Pulpit improved nicely last fall, and has shown distance and surface versatility. Ash Zee (2-1) figures to be overbet first-out against winners off the inflated Beyer.
In the 9th, the Coaching Club American Oaks, Seeking the Title (8-1) has the looks of a two-turn specialist who will absolutely love this nine furlong route for trainer Dallas Stewart. She got the Calvin Bo-Rail treatment in the Iowa Oaks; and then, blocked in the stretch, calmly switched paths to the outside to get up over a field of seasoned, if not spectacular, fillies at Prairie Meadows in her sixth career start. Daughter of Seeking the Gold has a solid Phipps pedigree (though she's not a Phipps-bred) - her unraced dam, by Monarchos, is Personal Ensign - and figures to progress with time and distance. Bullet five furlong work over the training track; looks quite enticing at her morning line odds. Acting Happy (5-1) makes her first start since upsetting the Black Eyed Susan for Dutrow, when she finished four lengths in front of Harissa, the filly that the top choice got up late to defeat in her last. The trainer says that she's been pointing for this meet since that race, and she's had a solid regimen of distance works at the Big A to prepare. The overrated Devil May Care (6-5) sets up the tote board for the prior two, or whoever else you might like. Easy one-turn win with an in-the-clear trip off a hot pace in the short-field Mother Goose; different story today. Best of luck and have a great day.