Saratoga Diary: Week 6 Ends
by DICK POWELL
Sunday's thunderstorms went south last evening so the Saratoga area dodged that weather bullet. Week 6 saw the last five days with Fast and Firm conditions and we hope it stays that way. Next week, the rail on the Mellon turf course will still be down but it will be out at nine feet on the inner turf course.
Race 1 was a New York-bred maiden special weight race going seven furlongs on the main track. Todd Pletcher's JUST RIGHT did nothing in his well-bet career debut then came back with blinkers added and was a good second at 12-1. The public made five of the six starters within $1.25 of each other in the betting and Just Right went off as the second choice at 27-10 after being the 7-5 morning line favorite. Johnny Velazquez broke him well from post one and instead of weakening in the stretch, he pulled away to a 4 3/4-length win over Red Zinger in 1:23.96 .
Race 2 was a 1 1/2-mile maiden special weight event for older horses. Julien Leparoux put Junonia on the lead and tried to do what he did on Saturday when he won the Sword Dancer (G1) at this distance aboard Glorious Empire. But Javier Castellano sent Sargeant Drive up to take the lead coming by the finish line the first time and he opened up about six lengths going down the backstretch. Jose Ortiz had WINTER UNION farther behind but caught up quickly on the far turn going three wide. He ran down Midnight Tea Time and held off No Mans Land to win by 1 1/2 lengths in the time of 2:27.52.
Race 3 was a maiden $75,000 claimer for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course. Klaravich Stables, the leading owners at the meet, sent out an entry that was bet down to 9-10 favoritism. The Chad Brown part of the entry, Merger Arbitrage, would probably have been favored on her own and was coming off a 284-day layoff. Instead, Rick Violette's SUPERCOMMITTEE was able to get to the inside when leader Blame the Gods kept shifting out and held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over her stablemate.
Race 4 was a high-class open allowance dirt sprint for New York-breds going 6 1/2 furlongs. Turning for home, any of the five starters had a chance but Eric Cancel found a seam in the stretch and shot CELTIC CHAOS through to go on to win as the second choice in the wagering.
Race 5 was a New York-bred $25,000 claimer going a mile on the inner turf course. Irad Ortiz Jr. gave CLOONTIA a textbook inside/out trip and when he tipped to the outside, he had first run over the rest of them to win handily at 6-1. Wicked Freud tried to follow the winner but when he went to the rail, he ran out of room and had to steady at the worst possible moment.
Race 6 was a first-level allowance race going 5 ½ furlongs on the Mellon turf course. I thought New York Song was a live play third start off the layoff but the dreaded post one kept him stymied as he dropped back and could not find clear sailing. Luis Saez dropped STOLEN PISTOL back early but when he found clear sailing about five paths out from the hedge, he exploded to win over Bam Bam Blu in 1:01.79 seconds. Joe Sharp has had a terrific meet with limited starters and it seems like all his horses are live.
Race 7 was a New York-bred $25,000 claimer going seven furlongs on the dirt. BLUE BELT was dismissed at 50-1 odds despite being trained by Rudy Rodriguez. He went gate to wire at Finger Lakes two starts back then came back there and tired against optional claimers on a sloppy track. Today, Junior Alvarado fought to take the lead and forgot to stop. He opened up a big lead in the stretch and held off Fleet Irish and Sal the Turtle to win and pay $103.50!
Race 8 was the Better Talk Now Stakes for three-year-olds that have never won a stakes race at a mile or over. Run on the inner turf course at a mile, it showed why Jose Ortiz is a sensational rider. He had ROSE'S VISION in behind horses and when they turned for home, he ducked to the rail where there was not a lot of room. The son of Artie's Schiller had his ears pinned back and sometimes the horse down on the inside finds room but doesn't have the momentum of the ones on the outside but Jose got into his mount and the Canadian shipper was the gamest of winners.
The final race of the day was a competitive turf sprint for New York-bred juvenile fillies. Only #6 Short Pour was covered in the Pick 6 and only the 1,4,6 and 11 were covered in the Pick 5. The favorite was Molly's Party who drew in from the also-eligible list with the scratch of Evan's Nice Now. First-time starter Miss Diagnose came out with front-leg bandages and Niko's Dream had blinkers. Why can't racing list equipment on first-time starters? Molly's Party was reluctant to load and Traci's Girl took an early lead. Kendrick Carmouche had Matzo Bella down on the inside and she looked loaded but SURGE OF PRIDE out finished Short Pour to force a Pick 6 carryover of $291,756 for Wednesday but complete the Pick 5 for $56,531.
Tuesday we will take a look at the first six weeks of racing. Only six days to go and some big races coming up.