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Friday, July 29, 2005

Back to the Grind

- I had to drive back to the city after the races yesterday, and noticed that there was virtually nobody else going in that direction. Why would anyone possibly be heading that way when there’s a beautiful forecast for a weekend of racing at Saratoga? Unfortunately, reality calls, and I won’t be back up there until next weekend, which will kick off a full week for the Head Chef and I. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to sulk. :-(

Well, at least it was a perfect day on Thursday; they’ll not be a more exceptional weather day for the balance of the meet, and the opening day snafus were largely corrected, except for all the TV monitors that are still out (and which weren’t even inspected until July 25, as noted prominently on the tags on each one). I found a bunch of betting machines with no lines at all, and even made some money. I used my spot play in the 5th, Maybry’s Boy, and when I chose the horses to use in the exacta, I put some extra on the combination with Charming Jim because I saw it was paying a whopping $75. He was dropping in class for the live barn of Edward Plesa, took early money in the win pool and drifted up to 7-1, but the exacta price really stood out. I read somewhere once – Brohamer? Cramer? – that if you see an exotic payoff that seems really outstanding, instead of the natural inclination to think ‘well, since that’s paying so much I just have to bet two bucks on it,’ that’s the time to take a shot. I don't like telling people how they should wager, but this is one betting tip that I think makes excellent sense. I got it right this time and the most generous $72.50 payoff made my two day trip a profitable one even though it was the only ticket I cashed.

There were a couple of races which featured what to me were attempted betting coups, but only one of them worked out. In the 2nd, a 2yo maiden affair, Somethinaboutbetty (Forestry), a first timer from Steve Margolis, was 8-1 morning line, but opened at 2-1 and stayed there (she actually got hammered back down there from 5-2 on the last flash) with Gary Stevens and decent but not spectacular works. She was prominent throughout, but come the stretch run she was left in the wake of the slight favorite India, the second of 3 winners for Pletcher/Velasquez. You’ll read a lot about the impressive win by 2yo Henny Hughes in the Saratoga Special, and Patrick Biancone saying stuff like "He could be the next Secretariat, but I don't know if he will be.....He could be because he does it so easily. It looks like he's just galloping and everybody is struggling behind him." [Albany Times-Union] But India was very impressive in her own right as she sprinted down the stretch to win by 12 in 1:04.66, watch out for her. She’s by Hennessy out of a stakes winning Miswaki mare, and she’s a half to stakes winner Pilfer. Mott’s $1.4 million Serena’s Cat was dull on the board at 9-2 and ran 5th. And if you don’t think Somethinaboutbetty was getting bet on the nose, note that the exacta with the favorite and second choice returned $33!

In the 7th, La Ina was 6-1 morning line, shipping in from a 4th place finish in her U.S. debut at Keeneland in April for Michael Matz, who seems to have some good stock here. But she also took money right from the start and went off 5-2. She set the pace from the start, with Ramon Dominguez doing a good job rating her under pressure to 6f in 1:13, and the German-bred was able to hold off 5-1 Praia Da Pipa (Mott/Bailey) while sprinting home in :35.30 to win by a bobbing nose. Nice score.

Mott had a winner with Sweet Symphony at 1-5 against three rivals in the third. The AP Indy-Brandy Rose 3 yo filly stalked a crawling pace to six furlongs in 1:16.35, prompting Tom Durkin to note “At some point they’ll start to run.” But she never really had to, cruising home in a sluggish 1:53.47 for 9 furlongs. Randy Schulhoefer had Captiva Bay ready off a layoff since January to take the 6th, and Biancone sent Cryptovinsky to win the 9th and sweep the late double.

As for Henny Hughes, he threw in an eighth of :11.70 after the half to put away second choice Master of Disaster, and he cruised to win by 3 3/4. Dick Powell noted in Brisnet: The final margin was irrelevant since Stevens was not asking him for anything. If this was a workout, which it was, the clockers would have designated it as a breeze. He as making his first start for Darley Stable, which reportedly paid $4.3 million for him after his 15 length win in the Tremont.