Saratoga Diary: Not Much New
by DICK POWELL
The forecast today was bad weather coming in later in the day and Tuesday looks like there will be enough rain to affect Wednesday's racing. After the weekend saw nine turf races get switched to the main track and one turf race run at the wrong distance, there were a few suits on the grounds. One noticeable difference is that Wednesday and Thursday have "only" four turf races each day – two on the inner and two on the Mellon turf course. We'll see if that trend continues since the turf courses are badly beaten up.
Today started out Fast and Good with the rail on the Mellon turf course moved out to 27 feet. Races 1 and 3 were taken off the turf and races 4 and 9 stayed on. Around 3:30 p.m. (EDT), race 9 was taken off and was run at nine furlongs on the main track. In race 1, SILVER WINGS RAVEN out-sprinted Wesley Ward's Fooch to the lead and never looked back. As the longest price in the field of four, he paid $25.40 and knocked out a lot of tickets in the Pick 5.
Race 2 was a plain $20K claimer going seven furlongs for fillies and mares. Daria's Angel went to the front and Joel Rosario pressed the pace with ASIAN'S WAY and took over turning for home to win by just over a length. The two speedballs held on and completed a $29.60 exacta.
Race 3 came off the turf and was run at seven furlongs. It looked like J C S Star would be the speed of the race but she went to her knees at the start. Instead, Manny Franco sent SHANGHAI DREAMS and showed new-found speed when making the lead. She opened up a big lead and won by 5 1/4 lengths with first-time Lasix. Would have been nice to know she had that kind of gate speed.
Race 4 stayed on the turf going 5 1/2 furlongs for juveniles. Before the race, FOG OF WAR had to have the pony come over and control him going down the backside during warm-ups. Luis Saez broke awkwardly and whatever chance he had to go to the lead was lost. Seismic Jolt had the lead to the top of the stretch and here came the cavalry. Behind the cavalry was Fog of War and he just blew by the leaders like they were tied to a pole. Todd Pletcher's Current, a flashy $725K son of Curlin with a blonde mane, got into early trouble and rallied gamely. Watch for him going two turns on the turf.
Sunday, I said that this isn't your father's Saratoga and race 5 today was more evidence. A New York-bred maiden $25,000 claimer going seven furlongs on a main track that was getting wetter from intermittent showers. A field of eight went to the post and the public settled on Party in the Sand as the 1.95-1 favorite since it looked like her running style might be correct for today's main track. I don't know who Corby Caizzo is but LIGHTWORKER looked like she could make the lead and Jose Lezcano did. She had a clear lead in the stretch and desperately held on by half a length in 1:25.56. It was the kind of race that proved that you can make money as long as your pick is faster than the others.
Race 6 was a plain $25,000 claimer for 3yo fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs on a wet main track. Whenever there is a speed bias, it eventually ends since the jockeys and trainers finally figure out that you have to be on the lead to have a chance. In the deep stretch behind a blistering pace set by Kendrick Carmouche aboard Reata's Reward, it looked like every horse had a chance. At the wire, Jose Ortiz had KAREN'S GEM's nose down on the wire to beat Tiz Priceless who was a half-length ahead of Aggregator. The fractions were :21.72, :44.88, 1:12.10 and 1:19.18 in an amazing fast early/slow late pace scenario.
Race 7 was a money allowance for older horses going nine furlongs. Luis Seaz put Flowers for Lisa on the lead and maintained two lengths after a first quarter in :24.90. They cruised down the backside with nobody moving until the far turn. At one point, the strong horse looked like it would be Bonus Points who loomed three wide but Johnny Velazquez got YOU'RE TO BLAME to find her best in the stretch and pull out to beat Flowers for Lisa in the final 100 yards.
Race 8 saw seven New York-bred fillies and mares going seven furlongs and the betting public looked like they were overdoing it with TAKE CHARGE AUBREY as they made her the even-money favorite. When she surged to take the lead at the eighth pole, she certainly rewarded their confidence. Nice filly for Bruce Levine and looks ready for stakes company next time out.
Tuesday, we will wrap up week four and go over where we are with three weeks to go in the meet.