Saratoga Diary: Handicap horses or people?
by Dick Powell
Same conditions as yesterday. Main track fast, Mellon turf course firm with the temporary rail at 27 feet and the inner turf course firm with the temporary at 18 feet.
Race 1 was a maiden $40,000 claimer going 6 1/2 furlongs and, as usual, we saw a fast first quarter-mile. SEAUXTALE, making his first start in 252 days and exposed for the claiming price, gunned to the front for Irad Ortiz Jr. and covered the first quarter-mile in :21.86. That was about par but Ortiz kept the pedal down and he covered his next quarter mile in :22.31. Throw the Fade was chasing but could not close the gap as the winner won it by three lengths in 1:15.77. It was the fourth win in a row for Ortiz, who won the last three races yesterday.
Race 2 had six older $32,000 claimers going 1 1/8 miles on the main track and Doyouknowsomething was loose on an easy lead. He threw in a :23.69 third quarter and that was his undoing. Manny Franco had SECURITIZ in a drive and joined him on the outside at the top of the stretch. He poured it on from there to the wire to win by over nine lengths in the spectacular time of 1:48.34. It was the fastest nine-furlong dirt race at the meet so far and the winner was claimed by Joe Sharp.
Race 3 was a $100,000 New York-bred stakes race for fillies and mares going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track, so naturally only five entered. Swing and Sway did all the dirty work on the front end with the first quarter in :21.57 and the half in :44.02. Favored Picco Uno loomed on the outside of the leader but she began to struggle. Have no fear Jason Servis, your other horse, BONITA BIANCA, rallied three wide to take over in the final strides to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:15.39.
Today’s question is do we handicap horses or people? TRADEABLE was a good second in her career debut and looked as good as anyone here in Race 4. The public agreed and sent her off as the 5-2 favorite. Her trainer, John Hertler, was winless in 21 starts this year and jockey Julien Leparoux only had one win at the meet. If you handicapped her people, 5-2 was a terrible price. She rallied from just off the pace in the turf sprint for New York-bred juvenile fillies and held off the crazy rally from Kitty’s Legacy, who was left at the gate.
Race 5 was for plain $40,000 claimers going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. Jose Ortiz sent SOUPERFAST to the front and he never looked back as the 5-1 second choice in the wagering. The turf is still playing a bit slow but the winner covered the distance in 1:42.51 and, considering the first half was run in :48.60, maybe the turf courses will start to favor front-end speed. In his last two starts, Souperfast had not shown this kind of pace but Ortiz won it out of the gate. The winner was claimed by Pat Reynolds.
Race 6 was a maiden special weight for fillies and mares going 6 1/2 furlongs. There were some beautifully-bred fillies in here but remember, this was not a two-year-old race and if a starter has not run yet, she must have had something very wrong to miss this much time. Chamber took all the money but she broke in at the start and then chased down on the inside. Joel Rosario could not get up last race but this time his furious rally aboard PINK SANDS got the job done in the final stride. The daughter of Tapit was making her first start in 265 days but she had four good starts last year and that experience edge came in handy. Tapit now has a meet-leading eight wins.
Race 7 was for $50,000 claimers who have not won three race lifetime, and when Johnny Velazquez put ADULATOR on the lead and the son of Flatter dropped his head, you knew he was going to be tough to catch. Velazquez set a steady pace and the only challenge in the stretch was Jose Ortiz on the far outside with Casses Story. Adulator, like his stablemate Securitiz, got the job done going nine furlongs on the dirt while dropping down in class. Jimmy Jerkens was winless coming into today and won both races but he lost both via the claim box.
Race 8 came up super strong. First-level allowance three-year-old fillies going a two-turn mile on the inner turf course attracted a field of nine and COOL BEANS looked like the controlling speed. Florent Geroux sent her to the front from post nine and, like the other race on the inner turf course today, went gate to wire over Data Dependent and favored Altea.
The weather forecast for Friday is – don’t ask. Race 1 is a turf sprint for starter allowance horses and #6 HUBBADAHUBBADABOOM tries turf after failing on it last year at Kentucky Downs. He has good early speed and no matter what surface he races over, Javier Castellano should have him up near the lead.