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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Saratoga News and Notes

Got permission from the Head Chef for a quickie Alabama weekend trip up to Saratoga, though not without paying a stiff price.  In return, I cheerfully agreed to accompany her out to the Hamptons this coming weekend, where she is catering an event for Wellness in the Schools.  So, no Travers for me.  However, it was well worth it - two gorgeous weather days, a couple of excellent betting cards (especially Alabama day), and a chance to hang out after the races with some nice folks at the paddock bar on a picture perfect upstate evening.  Great place to drink and chat, not so great to hang and bet the races during the day given the paucity of betting windows and lack of simulcasting screens.

Also was able to expand on my meager winnings from the long trip earlier in the month.  Not however before blowing it all plus more on Saturday.  One might think that a guy who, that very morning, wrote that trainer Phil Serpe was in the sneaky sharp trainer category , might have eeked out a profit on a day when he won three times!   I can't really say for sure I would have had Cybertron ($27.80) even if I hadn't missed the 1st due to two one-lane construction bottlenecks on Route 90 to Albany.  And the other two didn't meet my value standards; used them but preferred others on top.  So, what can you do.

Also didn't help the cause when I bet the wrong horse and the one I intended to bet won.  The only reason I'm even admitting that is because Strong Impact ($7.40) was 9-2 when I bet him....or, rather, when I didn't bet him....with just a few minutes to post.  So, it didn't cost me that much.  Still, imagine my surprise when I checked my account after the race, yikes.  We all know I think somebody who bet the wrong horse and won.  I knew one guy who erroneously bet $50 on Temperance Hill ($108.80) in the Belmont.  (Although I stuck with Genuine Risk, who I bet in all three legs, Temperence Hill subsequently went on to become one of my most profitable horses during that little slice of life.)  I've never had such luck.  But then again, you're talking to a guy who hasn't been put up via disqualification since 1983.

Did come back strong on Sunday though, with the 2nd race winner and exacta, the 9th race exacta and the late daily double (all tweeted out in advance of the addition to the winner of the 9th at Arlington, a race I unfortunately did not cash on).  So a pretty good job overall by me, solidly profitable on-track this year.  Next time I step out onto a racetrack apron will be at Del Mar!

Questing was the star of the weekend with her dominant performance in the Alabama, for which she earned a Beyer of 106.  I watched the race live at around the 1/8th pole, and man, it really looked like she was motoring away from the rest of the field as she drew away to win by 9.  But of course, she wasn't, really.  After running stunningly fast fractions for a mile and a quarter race - 46 to the half, 1.09 3/5 to the three quarters - those in pursuit had had enough.  But so, actually, had Questing.  Just not as much as the others.  Her last half was run - swerved and ducked - in 51.55; so the feeling that she was accelerating away was illusionary, as is often the case in North American dirt racing.  Not a single one of the other fillies, strung out in a single file spanning some 42 lengths as they staggered home - was able to gain any ground; favored Grace Hall was 30 lengths behind.  In truth, it was a horrible race, further testament to the obvious fact that today's thoroughbreds are not bred to run classic distances.  Don't mean to demean (too much) Questing or her effort - she did what she had to do, vanquishing the field with a dazzling display of early speed.   But, from what we've been reading and hearing since, one might think we saw the second coming of Ruffian.  Hopefully, the colts will put on a better show in the Travers.  (Of course, I seem to recall having similarly disparaged Royal Delta's Alabama win last year, and we see how that worked out.)

Horrific spill in the 2nd on Monday; Pete's Parlay became the third racing-related fatality of the meet.  After a glorious weekend, you know that NYRA had to pay the piper as it generally seems to work out.  This was a grim prelude to the task force report on the spate of deaths at the Big A that is due out today. [UPDATE: Not happening, see Teresa's comments below.]

I'd mentioned John Hertler earlier in the meet as a low percentage trainer who nonetheless always gets in at least one win at Saratoga.  In fact, Jitney, who I picked in that context here, came back to win again (didn't have him that time).  In the 4th on Monday, he picked up his third winner from 17 starts (all on grass), a not-so-low percentage of 18%.  Half Wildcat ($12.20) is by Discreet Cat, 5th on the sophomore sire earnings list, now standing at Darley for $12,500, down from his initial $30,000.

David Jacobson, never hesitant to dip into his pocket and pick off a high-priced claimer, found himself on the other end when his 6yo Midnight Silver was claimed for 50K in the 6th, by William Badgett.  But at least he got more than his money's worth.  Jacobson claimed this son of Silver Deputy for 20K at Saratoga last summer, and started him a stunning (these days) 16 times since then, climbing up the claiming ladder while winning six times, with five seconds, and three thirds.  Just twice out of the money, and those were both 4ths.  He earned over $200,000 in purse money, plus the proceeds of this claim.  That's the way to do it!

Another winner for the Toddster as the stupidly-named Notacatbutallama ($4) took the 7th.  More stunning than his 25 wins is the fact that he's started 102 runners, 42 more than Chad Brown or Bill Mott in the runners-up slot in that category.

And yet another winner for Contessa, who dropped his one-time graded stakes winner (of which I imagine he hasn't had that many) Grand Rapport ($5.40) in for 25K, picked up his 8th winner from 50 starters, a solid percentage for this barn especially at Saratoga where he's only 9% over the last five years, and lost him to trainer/owner Diane Balsamo.


Teresa said...

Apparently the release of the task force report is delayed again -- I've heard from numerous people that it's not coming out today -- trying to get the next target date.

alan said...

^^no surprise. State probably trying to pressure them to release now, but they're not ready. The governor wouldn't want to see Travers week to unfold without such a distraction, would he?

Teresa said...

Just talked to Racing and Wagering Board -- no new target date for release.

Anonymous said...

Its gonna be a useless report anyway.

Figless said...

Since its not being released it must exonerate NYRA, will probably be released late Friday night before Election Day so no one pays attention.

Not to worry, sure Joe Drape has his latest expose' ready to release on Thursday.