Saratoga Diary: Week Five Begins
by DICK POWELL
Sunny? Fast and Firm? At Saratoga?
And, no races off the turf!
Three full weeks to go and in the old days, which I seem to be living in more these days, we would only be in week two. Now week five begins, but there are no promises for the weather since we had scattered storms Tuesday that hit where I live but missed five minutes away.
Race 1 had two vet scratches and only four went to post. Our Whim set a very demanding pace and Manny Franco benefited aboard favored COOL AS YOU LIKE. She pulled away in the stretch to win by 4 1/4 lengths in the time of 1:17.48 for 6 1/2 furlongs.
Manny Franco came right back in race 2 and overcame hitting the gate at the start by hustling ELEGANT ZIP up to press the pace and hold on as the 4-5 favorite to complete a chalky $10.40 early double.
Race 3 was a high-class allowance dirt sprint for fillies and mares going seven furlongs. Breaking Bread and Greatreviews battled for the lead into the deep stretch. Javier Castellano was crying out for room behind them aboard NO NEED TO APPEAL and he bullied his way out of the hole to finally get clear and nail the leaders in the last stride. In doing so, there was a lot of contact with Pacific Gale, who was outside of her and David Cohen was not conceding an inch. There was a stewards' inquiry and they ruled, rightfully so in my opinion, that Cohen caused much of the contact when he came in on the winner and the result stood.
Race 4 was a turf sprint on the Mellon turf course and there were two more vet scratches plus a main track only came out leaving a field of five. With the temporary rail 27 feet out, Rafael Santana Jr. sent Texas Music to the front and she had a length-lead around the turn. Manny Franco had favored AVERY MAEVE on the move and she quickly swallowed the leader and drew off to a 6 3/4-length win.
Race 5 was a New York-bred maiden special weight going six furlongs on the main track for juvenile fillies and the betting public had a hard time with this group. They finally made Big Brown Cat the tepid favorite at 7-2 and seven of the nine starters went off at single-digit odds. The second longest choice on the board was first-time starter SHESASUPERFREAK as most bettors have forgotten Rick James. The daughter of Shanghai Bobby shipped in from Finger Lakes and she won by over 10 lengths in the good time of 1:10.86.
Race 6 was a two-turn event for plain $20K claimers and nine-year-old gelding TURCO BRAVO was dropping in class second start off the claim by Oscar Barrera III and the former stakes winner, who was second here on Opening Day in good time, came back to wear down Imperatore and win by a length. Barrera has run five horses at the meet and now has a win, a second and a third.
Race 7 was a maiden turf event going 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mare. CIVIL UNION was a first-time starter from Chad Brown by War Front and she rallied from way back for Jose Ortiz to win going away by three parts of a length over Peter's Kitten who ran well despite a wide trip. It was Brown's 27th win of the meet on day number 23.
In race 8, it looked there was some speed in the field of 10 but Irad Ortiz Jr. put STILL KRZ on the lead and dared everyone to catch him no matter how fast he was going. The Jason Servis-trainee went the first quarter in :21.76 and the half in :44.53. When nobody could keep up, they dropped back and he opened up a big lead to win handily in 1:09.31. David Cohen had Bolita Boyz far back early and came up the inside to get second at 22-1.
Race 9 was the Bolton Landing Stakes for juvenile fillies and Wesley Ward scratched morning-line favorite Shang Shang Shang in favor of a spot coming up. He still had two of the six in here and STILLWATER COVE, sent off at 10-1, rallied on the outside for Irad Ortiz Jr. Ward's other starter, Chelsea Cloisters, held on for second after looking like she might win it in the stretch. The Ward exacta paid $65. Chad Brown's Drynachan broke poorly and did not have a closing kick.
On Thursday in race eight, Graham Motion's #3 KATIE CRUEL makes her American debut off a decent maiden win on soft turf in Ireland last out. She stretches out to a mile from a good post while adding Lasix and gets Irad Ortiz Jr.