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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Notes

- Shug took the 5th at Belmont on Saturday with first-time starter Rescue Squad ($18.60) on the turf; certainly an apropos hunch bet in these uncertain times. It's also his 4th debut winner this year, coming after a long slump in that category - some 27 months - that I'd documented many times here. The percentages will even out in the long run, and I imagine that Bill Mott will start popping them with regularity again someday (he got his first one in one year at Arlington last month, but hasn't had one in NY since 9/2/07).

The Mott barn has shown some signs of life at Belmont with a recent run of 12-3-3-2, and starts the debut runner Sheikh's Serenade (7-2) in today's second race. This Live Oak homebred is by Unbridled's Song out of the BC Sprint winner Desert Stormer (Storm Cat); and she's a half to the graded stakes winner Sahara Gold. She figures to be second choice to Elusive Heat (5-2), the McLaughlin (47-9-4-3)-trained daughter of Xtra Heat who makes her long awaited debut after being scratched at Saratoga.

Back to Shug's colt, Rescue Squad got a ground saving trip from Edgar Prado; though it should be noted that he was in amongst a crowd, and showed a lot of maturity for a two year old first-timer. Had a bit of trouble in the stretch too when he got carried out, and had to battle back inside of the Toddster's favored Hype to get the win. Impressive effort. This is a son of Dynaformer, out of a Seeking the Gold mare; he's a half to Criminologist (third in the Athenia). This is also the family of Shug's Distaff (I just can't bring myself...) hopeful Carriage Trail - they have the same second dams, and their first dams are full sisters.

After coming alive at Saratoga, Pletcher has fallen back to the doldrums in which he's spent a good portion of this New York racing year. His current record at Belmont is 37-4-6-6. His most recent winner here was Sea Chanter, and I was surprised to notice that she's a Darley filly. Never noticed Pletcher training for the Sheikh before. Further research however shows that the filly had previously run for Stonerside, which explains the odd pairing. Guess the Toddster came along with the package.

Rap Tale turns up in the 7th at the Meadowlands on Tuesday afternoon. She's back on the dirt, and with all the original excitement over trying her on the grass, the fact is that she's won the last three times she's been on the dirt; and four of the last five. And as "bad" as her last win, the race at Philly Park, looked visually and figure-wise, interesting to note that the third and 4th place finishers in that race have come back to win.


Anonymous said...

From Sunny Jim in New Jersey

Hi Alan -

Was wondering about this: Interesting turn of events in that stake sprint at the Meadowlands last night. In addition to Just Zip It, seven other horses scratched out of the race, leaving just five starters from an original thirteen.

So all she would have had to do to earn a check, then, was beat one horse if she had been left in the race. Isn't the payoff a few percent for finishing fifth? (I know in harness racing it's 5%.) With a $65K purse that's nothing to scoff at, no?

Do you think she would have been left in had you known there would be all those scratches? As it turned out, a 2X-allowance horse took second in the greatly diminished field.

Why do you think all those other horses were scratched anyway? For all the complaining
New Jersey trainers like to do about the state losing out by virtue of being surrounded by racino states, I notice that so many of them are so quick to scratch their horses. The Meadowlands fall meet has had to deal with short fields for many years now, and last night there was nothing wrong with the weather.

I see a couple of trainers who actually have taken advantage of this situation: They will enter a horse in a grass race, but will run only if the race comes OFF the grass, knowing that the fields will be short - sometimes with less than five entries.


Alan Mann said...

Sunny - Yes, the fifth place award was $1950. Not bad for a night's work. But I think Zada Belle probably scared most of them away. Don't know if they would have run Zip It anyway. The point is I think that she's a filly who runs her heart out ever race, and the concern is that she could become discouraged - or worse - in a race in which she's badly outmatched. The stakes has no nomination fee, and the entries are taken so far in advance that it just lends itself to a lot of scratches as we saw.