Saratoga Diary: Hall of Fame Friday

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TwinSpires Staff

August 3rd, 2018


At 10:30 this morning, the main track was listed as fast and the Mellon and inner turf courses were firm. Rain began shortly afterwards and by the time I got to the track just after noon, it was downgraded to muddy (sealed) and the turf was listed as good. At 2:02 p.m., race 6 was taken off the turf and switched to the main track. There must have been an ominous forecast at that point since it hardly rained afterwards. Speed dominated going two turns on the main track with leaders racing off the rail and horses were winning from off the pace in the dirt sprints.

Race 1 was a 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprint for juvenile filly maiden $50,000 claimers. Junior Alvarado gunned Malibu Mischief to the front and looked good but came up empty in the drive as Ricardo Santana Jr. had CASSIES DREAMER in a drive and flew by her on the outside to win by 2 1/4 lengths over the muddy going.

Race 2 was a maiden $20,000 claimer for fillies and mares going six furlongs and once again, the leader looked good but was run down on the outside by TIMELESS BEAUTY who gave Gary Contessa his first win of the meet. Once again, speed was run down on the outside.

With the profile we saw in the first two dirt sprints on the muddy track, Manny Franco sat H MAN in fourth place early in race 3 and ran down the leader to win going away at 7/2 odds. It was Jeremiah Englehart’s fourth win at the meet.

So, after three dirt sprints saw the leader run down in the stretch, race 4 was a two-turn route and naturally, speed held up. David Cohen put MADAME BARBARIAN on the lead and was never headed despite setting a decent pace. Zeven pressed every step of the way and none of the closers made up significant ground.

Race 5 was back to the muddy main track going six furlongs for juvenile fillies and I picked the wrong one by Into Mischief. More Mischief was sent off as the 4/5 favorite and she was terrible; finishing out of the money after never threatening. The other daughter of Into Mischief, SHE’S TROUBLE, sat off the pace and won easily by five lengths for Linda Rice and Irad Ortiz Jr.

Race 6 came off the turf and there were four late scratches. MISS MYSTIQUE was a popular winner for Leah Gyarmati who doesn’t get nearly enough horses considering her training talent. She didn’t look like she could handle 5 1/2 furlongs but was able to get rolling and despite Stonefactor drifting out in the deep stretch, was able to prevail by a neck at 7/2 odds.

Race 7 was back to two turns and speed dominated. Manny Franco put WAR VALUE on the lead and drew off to a 9 1/2-length victory. The daughter of War Front was making her dirt debut but being out of a dam by A.P. Indy, it was no surprise that she handled the wet going.

Race 8 also went two turns but this time, a horse from off the pace won. I wouldn’t have given a dime for PROVEN RESERVES’ chances at the five-sixteenths pole but Irad Ortiz Jr. looked like he found a wheelpath on the outside and followed it to the wire. It helped that early leaders Uncle Sigh and Weather Wiz ran out of gas.

Race 9 was on the Mellon turf course rated as good. The Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) for 3yos going 1 1/16 miles attracted an evenly-matched field and Chad Brown is going to be impossible to pass as the leading trainer. RAGING BULL, a son of Dark Angel who had a Group 2 stakes win in Battaash this morning at Goodwood, flew home late to nail Todd Pletcher’s Maraud and give the defending champion trainer his 13th win after 13 days of racing. Both Chad and Todd will be in the Hall of Fame as soon as they are eligible.

Tomorrow is the Whitney Stakes (G1) for older horses going nine furlongs on the dirt. GOOD SAMARITAN won the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) here last year going this distance and has been up and down since. He started the year with a good win the New Orleans Handicap (G2) going nine furlongs in fast time then was third in a wide trip at Churchill Downs. Throw out his last start in the one-turn Met Mile (G1) and he comes in here on the rebound for Bill Mott. Jose Ortiz rides back.