Saratoga Diary: Sunny Third Sunday
by DICK POWELL
Considering how bad yesterday’s thunderstorms were, today at Saratoga was not that bad. Three turf races stayed on; three came off. The main track was originally listed as muddy, by the first race it was good, and then by race 6, it was upgraded to fast. Outside paths seemed to have the best footing on the dirt.
In race 1, Mo Wheels Up was scratched going to the gate. Part of the favored Joe Sharp-trained entry, her scratch meant that her entrymate, LADY T N T, ran for purse-money-only. That was too bad because I liked the winner who busted out of the gate and dominated Todd Pletcher’s Into Mystic by over five lengths in the fast time of 1:04.92 seconds.
Race 2 came off the turf and was run at 1 1/8 miles on the good main track. Chad Brown first-time starter, GAMBLER’S FALLACY, got away dead last and lost contact with the field. He was so far behind, his Trakus chiclet was not even on the screen. The second choice in the wagering began to close the gap some going into the far turn and built up momentum towards the top of the stretch. Usually, these horses flatten out but Javier Castellano had him in a drive and he won with something left over Mark Hennig’s Local Counsel who looked like an easy winner in the stretch.
Race 3 had a similar profile in that Heavy Meddle looked like a winner in the stretch but WINSTON’S CHANCE improbably got up on the outside for his Finger Lakes connections. He won last year at almost 12/1 but this year he got through his second-level New York-bred allowance condition as the second choice in the wagering.
Race 4 was a seven-furlong dirt sprint and the sluggish profile of the drying-out main track was in play again. Joel Rosario broke Rockford well from post 9 and he pressed leader No Distortion. He forged a hard-earned lead in the stretch but here came FLEET IRISH on the outside to win it by a neck at 11/1 for Kendrick Carmouche who is usually seen winning on the front end and not from way behind. Robert Falcone Jr., who originally trained Mind Your Biscuits, claimed this one for $14K last out at Belmont Park and moved up to $20K successfully.
The Troy S. (G3) stayed on the Mellon turf course at 5 1/2 furlongs and for anyone that thinks horses should race no matter what the turf condition, watch the replay and check out the clods of turf being kicked up. It looked like I was out there with my 5-iron. World record holder Disco Partner was questionable on the yielding turf and he was a tepid 3/2 favorite. I thought Holding Gold had a shot coming from behind but it was speedball SANDY’Z SLEW that gunned to the front and never looked back. Disco Partner was third.
Race 6 came off the turf and was run at seven furlongs on the main track. Again, the wide closer had the edge as Joel Rosario had SIEVE MISH on the far outside and he passed three horses in the deep stretch to prevail by a length and pay $15.60 to win. The win for Christophe Clement made up a little for Disco Partner’s defeat in the previous race.
Luckily for us, our play for today was AMERICAN POWER in race 7 and like clockwork, he moved up on the outside from post 8 and won going away for Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jason Servis. He was claimed out of the race for $40K by Linda Rice.
Todd Pletcher will take a winner anywhere he can get them and MASTER PLAN won race 8 going 1 3/16 miles on the Mellon turf course. On a course where the footing looked treacherous, he won the photo by a nose over Mr Maybe. It was another tough beat for Rosario and Javier Castellano continues to redeem himself after an off year.
Barclay Tagg has been surprisingly busy in the claim box here lately but getting horses to run long is right in his wheelhouse. He sent out IM THE CAPTAIN NOW who was perfectly ridden by Manny Franco who saved ground through the first two turns and pulled wide on turn three. The final time for the 1 3/8 miles was 2:19.16 seconds and I didn’t think a son of Trappe Shot could ever get that distance.
The Alydar Stakes was race 10 going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Only a field of 5 went to the post as a $100,000 pot is not much more than a good allowance event here and the race is limited to non-winners of an open stakes race in 2018. Johnny Velazquez tried to steal it aboard Outplay and when Timeline did not go with him, it looked like he might do it. But the track was against him and he tired when Kurilov engaged him turning for home. It looked like the Chad Brown trainee had it but here came REALM to nail him at the wire as the longest price on the board. It was the second straight win for Barclay Tagg.
On Monday, we are going back to the well again in race 5. Jason Servis sends out #6 CAPTAIN GAUGHEN in the turf sprint for $25K claimers and he won last out on Monmouth Park’s tighter turf course going this distance in good time. He should appreciate the give in the ground and Irad Ortiz Jr. rides back.