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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saratoga News and Notes

I was thinking early yesterday that I'd write that, despite the horrific heat, NYRA at least lucked out during opening weekend as far as rain and sloppy track/off-the-turf races go. And they did, for the most part, and throughout the crucial weekend cards. But sometime before the start of Monday's third race, after the first was run on a fast track and the second on the turf labeled firm (despite the weather being showery according to the race charts), it must have been a typical Saratoga cloudburst that promptly turned the track to sloppy and washed out the grass races. NYRA moved up the post times and shaved about 40 minutes from the entire race day. [Saratogian] I imagine that might not have thrilled anyone who was planning his/her afternoon break around betting the 5-14-5-7 late Pick Four and missed out on the opportunity.

The attendance was a Belmont-like 7,838.

The track condition led trainer John Kimmel to scratch Friend or Foe, who I was planning to bet against in the Evan Shipman. He'll now run in the Whitney instead. We'll be there that weekend, so I'll have the chance to bet against him in person. “I guess it was meant to be. My horse is ready.” [Saratogian] We'll see....I suspect he'll be in a bit over his head, and besides, he hasn't finished in the money in either of his two two-turn tries, both graded stakes races at Saratoga.

In the first, Joonbi ($7.90) held on to get trainer Seth Benzel on the board. He's a three-year old son of Pollard's Vision, who's stud fee is up to $12,500 from the $10,000 for which this colt was bred; and hails from the direct distaff line of the popular New York-based sprinter Kelly Kip (who now stands in California for $4,000).

Select Cat ($4.70) won the third, thus keeping the Toddster's hitting streak alive at four days with one winner each. This two-year old daughter of Tale of the Cat was never threatened and drew off by five (though good only for a 70 Beyer). Out of a mare by the deceased Secret Hello, this colt's third dam is Bepopper, the dam of Hatchet Man and Stop the Music. This is also the female family of the multiple G1 winner Yanks Music, and the Belmont/Travers runner-up Vision and Verse.

On Sunday, Bretton Woods ($22.20) won for trainer George Weaver. And in the 7th, the Irish Linnet Stakes, his Frivolous Buck rallied wide and sharply for 3rd at 11-1. Regular readers of this blog know that this is a guy that I like to follow at this meet. Too bad I wasn't doing so on Sunday. But he's prone to hot streaks and well worth keeping an eye on from this point on.

2nd race winner Dehere of the Cat ($6.50) is the 5th winner for the first-year sire and one-time phenom Discreet Cat, who stands at Darley for $17,500. Winning trainer Michael Trombetta used to have a ridiculous winning percentage for first-time starters, but I see that it's now down to a more normal 16% on the pp line, which I think covers a year and a half or so. Interestingly-pedigreed NY-bred is inbred 5x4 to Secretariat, and 4x5 to Damascus, a name we don't see much that close up in pedigrees these days. He's out of a Dehere mare who's a half-sister to the stakes winning Ballymore Lady.

In the 4th, Happy Bull ($4.10) and Que Posse completed an all Delaware Park exacta, and no surprise to see David Jacobson snare the winner for the 50k optional claiming tag. Son of Yonaguska made a tempting target with his record of (now) 14 in-the-money finishes in 15 career starts, and Jacobson is not shy about pulling the trigger whatever the price as we know.

Chorus Music ($8.10) won the aforementioned Irish Linnet Stakes for trainer John Terranova. She also won the Irish Linnet Stakes which was run at Belmont in April, which has to represent some kind of record. This daughter of Strategic Mission seems to have come to learn and love the game at the age of six.

Star Torina ($25.80) took the 8th on the turf in her debut, for Mott. She's a full sister to one-time Derby pretender Adriano, a graded winner on the grass. Her third dam is the dam of the Haskell/Belmont winner Bet Twice.

Sanford winner Overdriven ($2.60), who scored a 100 Beyer in his debut for Pletcher, got a 93 in defeating four other maiden graduates in this entry-level allowance masquerading as a Grade 2 stakes. Another hot one for Mike Repole, who paid $350,000 for this son of Tale of the Cat as a yearling at Keeneland last fall. He's a half-brother to the one-time Derby pretender Smooth Air.