Saratoga Diary: Week Seven Begins
by Dick Powell
Brutally hot day at the Spa as the last week of racing begins. If it were any hotter, there might have been reason to cancel, but at least there was a bit of a breeze. Unfortunately, it was in the horse’s faces in the homestretch and there were some slow running times on the main track.
The rail is still down on the Mellon turf course and is out to 18 feet on the inner turf course. Even though the television monitors say it is set at 18 feet, if you look at the chart of Race 4, it says nine feet. To my eye, it’s 18 feet. This is not the first time that this has happened and I have pointed it out before.
Race 1 was an allowance race for steeplechase horses. DARK GEMINI won going away in the stretch and, when he pulled up on the backstretch, an official came over and alerted the track ambulance to come get him. I didn’t see him limping and it might have been a precaution to the heat. Hope so.
Race 2 was kind of the typical class dropdown that we see here and don’t know what to do with. TWOFER cost $290K last year as a two-year-old but has had six tries to break his maiden. Following a 137-day layoff, he was dropping down to maiden $20,000 claimers. With new rider Ricardo Santana Jr., he was shuffled back to last before rallying up the inside to win going away. Brooklyn Gertie acted up in the starting gate and had to be scratched.
Race 3 was infuriating. Rachel’s Smokin was a complete basket case in the paddock. They could barely get a saddle on her and had to wait for the field to leave before she left to go out to the track. Only problem was that she did not have a rider aboard. Her groom had trouble controlling her and it looked like there might be a terrible accident as she kept turning sideways and trying to kick her pony.
I thought the rule was a horse had to carry the assigned weight from the time riders mounted to when they loaded in the gate. She was so bad that the pony could never get near her on the track and one of the outriders had to take her to the gate – still with no rider. Finally, before loading, Ricardo Santana Jr. got aboard and she actually loaded in the gate for the turf sprint for maiden $40,000 claimers. How was this filly allowed to run?
Rachel’s Smokin showed good speed as Santana hustled her hard and then Luis Saez brought first-time starter A BIT OF MISCHIEF up the inside to take over into the turn. Street Passion tried to get out on the turn and Paddydunalot went to the outer fence and had to be eased. A Bit of Mischief pulled away to win easily for Joe Sharp in a race that saw more than a bit of mischief. The winner was claimed by Looch Racing and Tony Quartarolo
Race 4 was a starter allowance event going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. Last out, Chad Brown’s PROGNISTICATION was super impressive beating $40,000 claimers here. When he didn’t get claimed, that opened up the starter allowance hideaway and, while he had to work hard to hang on over stablemate Financial System, Javier Castellano got him home in time.
Race 5 was a New York-bred maiden special weight for juvenile fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs. Manny Franco looked like he might have a winner with third-time starter Midnitesalright but, after forging to the lead, second-time starter MORE MISCHIEF came back on the outside after looking beaten on the far turn and got up to win for Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz. It was the ninth win at the meet for her sire, Into Mischief, who is now tied with Tapit as leading sire here this year.
Race 6 was a turf sprint for $40,000 claimers who had not won two races. Linda Rice’s TRES CHARMANT sat the perfect trip in third, and when Shanghai Glory bore out a bit on the turn, Jose Lezcano shot her up the hedge. She held on to win for Rice, who scores 24 percent second start off the layoff. Lune Lake rallied late to get up second after showing speed in her lone turf sprint start.
Race 7 was a six-furlong dirt sprint for New York-bred first-level allowance fillies and mares. Irad Ortiz Jr. sent FAIR REGIS up the rail turning for home and Manny Franco had Out of Orbit in a drive on her outside. Every time it looked like Out of Orbit was going to get by, she lost momentum, but the head-on replay showed Franco was the culprit and the result stood. Had Out of Orbit ran straight, she would have won. Fair Regis did not pull up well and would not want her coming back on short rest.
Race 8 was a second-level New York-bred allowance event going seven furlongs. THE CARETAKER beat open-company starter allowance foes going seven furlongs then came back here to beat first-level New York-breds in an off-the-turf event going 5 1/2 furlongs. Moved up in class but in great form, he won here at a generous 4-1 for Kiaran McLaughlin, who has had a good meet with only 32 starters. Sharp form can handle the move up in class.
Race 9 was the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) going 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course. Unfortunately, $150,000 and graded status could only attract a field of six and two of them were maidens.
Somelikeithotbrown showed up in the paddock with first-time front bandages. Still, he was bet early and then dropped down to even-money at the off time. I thought all horses that take big, late money win easily? I guess I have to stop reading the internet.
Somelikeithotbrown was able to gain a hard-fought lead in the stretch but here came Javier Castellano on the outside with maiden, first-time turfer OPRY, and he rallied from far back to win going away at 7-2 odds.
Tomorrow should be a relatively quiet day at the track and I can’t wait to be there. The weather is supposed to cool off some and should be way better than today.
Christophe Clement has been cold at the meet with only three wins in 28 starts. In Race 8, he sends out LULU’S POM POM (#1) in a turf sprint for first-level New York-breds. Clement has won the Belmont Stakes (G1) with Tonalist and trained Gio Ponti, but he does great in turf sprints and this daughter of Pomeroy should be involved early from post 6 with Irad Ortiz Jr. back aboard.