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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saratoga: Nice!!

Have to say that Saratoga really outdid itself on the short jaunt I took up there on Thursday and Friday.  Man, it was nice!!!  Always helps when the weather is spectacular, which surely is an apt description of what it's like this week.....and for most of the meet as far as I can surmise.  Everything seems so bright and stunningly clear when it's like that....and probably more so for me, being my first trip up there this summer.

It all made it really tough for me to get in the car and drive home after the last race on Friday.  I mean, it's the weekend, everybody was first getting there and I had to leave!  Hard to do,
and I found myself stopping and lingering at the state park before relenting and hitting the highway.  It was a little surreal at time; when I emerged from that narrow stretch of the Taconic where it opens up at the southern part, I was literally the only person on the road for long stretches.  Why would anyone be heading south at that time?  Fortunately it won't be too long before I'm heading back north, and with the Head Chef this time.  We'll be heading up the day after the Travers, and staying in town for the rest of the meet.  Until the bitter end.

Well, it was quite an interesting trip, both recreationally and business-wise.  It included an unexpected appearance by yours truly on the Capitol OTB cable TV show on Friday morning.  Which made for a nervous and restless stay at the hotel in Albany on Thursday night!  (Too cheap to spring for a more convenient location.)  Spoke to host Seth Morrow briefly about the blog, and then about TimeformUS, and I believe I made it through without making a fool of myself.  Many thanks to Seth for having me and to Teresa for setting it up.

It really struck me just how happy and nice everybody seems up there!  You'd think that everyone was making a lot of money, which I kinda doubt is really the case.  Got to spend some time with friends and acquaintances and they were all happy and nice.  Got to meet Princess of Sylmar's owner Ed Stanco, Chris Kay, Randy Moss, the Capitol OTB handicappers Jeanne Wood and Anthony Momino, and they all seemed really nice and happy.

No, I did not meet the Toddster, but I'm sure he would have been nice and happy too (though maybe not after the third on Friday before which he is pictured here).

Actually can't think of anyone I encountered in any capacity that would not fit that description. Imagine how much fun I would have had if I had actually won!

 - I'm not a big track bias guy as you know; but there's no doubt in my mind that the main track at Saratoga is speed favoring; no question.  (Just as the Polytrack at Del Mar was when I was there.)  I think that was apparent from a couple of the races in which the front-runners actually did not hang on.  I was hanging out with Bob from Kasey K on Friday, and we were looking at Souper Speedy before the 6th.  His dependable stretch runner Hello Lover (last year's Pennsylvania Horse of the Year, another big earner that he claimed for ridiculously little) had beaten that horse last time, yet he was pointing out just how great Souper Speedy had run despite being taken out of his usual running style.  He also towered over the field on the TFUS figures.  So, when he got his desired stalking trip this time, I expected him to blow by the field; yet he struggled mightily and needed every step of the stretch to finally vanquish 24-1 Say No More (who, in retrospect, I could actually make a good red-board case for, but still).   Then, in the 9th, favored Awesome Vision had a similarly ideal journey, looked poised to blow them away as they turned for home, yet was all out to prevail.  I believe the track has played that way ever since it dried out from the slop of a week ago Friday, and shows no sign of abating.

 - Doug Salvatore, our East Coast handicapper at TimeformUS, takes a look at the Arlington Million and the supporting stakes here.  I steadfastly opposed his pick on Friday, and it ended up splitting my get-out cold exacta, so shame on me!  (Some insight on the shippers from the TimeformUK team here.)  The Million is one of our free races of the day (along with the Alabama); and you can access them (after a short and free sign-up) here.  You might be interested in taking a look at the speed figures, as we are endeavoring to harmonize those for the foreign runners with the domestic ones.  Worked pretty will with Farhaan in the 10th at Saratoga on Thursday.  I'm a bit interested in Mull of Killough (12-1), a horse who seemed to really come into his own last in his six-year old season last year, and has carried that form over with a couple of solid UK performances this year.  Best of luck and have a great day!