Saratoga Diary: Week Three Begins
by Dick Powell
Ten days in the books, 30 more to come. Yesterday, the forecast for today was not only a washout but dangerous thunderstorms with hail and lightning were predicted. There was a light drizzle around 10 a.m. (ET) and, so far, it has not gotten any worse. There is a pocket of bad weather that is right on our doorstep but it has stayed to the east while trailing bad weather looks like it might stay to the west.
The main track is listed as fast, the Mellon turf course is firm with the temporary rail at 18 feet and the inner turf course is firm with the temporary rail at nine feet.
Arch Kingsley Jr. and Mike Mitchell combined for another win in the opener for allowance horses going over the hurdles. Mitchell put BOSS MAN on the lead and they never looked back to win by 2 1/4 lengths as the third choice in the wagering.
Race 2 was for $14K claiming fillies and mares going nine furlongs on the main track and Mike Luzzi almost stole it when he sent My Girl Annie to the front. She set dawdling fractions and was still there in the stretch. The two favorites checked out and the lone danger was GIANT ENDING, who got up near the wire to win and pay a generous $13.40 with Kendrick Carmouche showing he can do more than win dirt sprints. The final time was 1:54.54, which surprised me since I thought the track would be tighter with rain in the forecast.
Race 3 was a turf sprint for New York-bred maiden $40,000 claimers and Jose Ortiz, a remarkable four-for-56 in his first nine days of racing here, got things going when he sat aboard GHOST GIANT and took over in the lane as much the best. The daily double combining two offspring of Frost Giant paid $90.50. Ferrad's Party was crushed by Brockmoninoff coming out of the gate and was pulled up down the backside by Joel Rosario.
Todd Pletcher won his seventh race of the meet with YOUR ONLY MAN in Race 4. He went off at a generous 4-1, as Pletcher continues to win steadily without being overbet. Javier Castellano picked up the mount on this one, and despite running third against this claiming level last out, Your Only Man was not claimed.
Race 5 was a maiden special weight event going six furlongs but it was for fillies and mares. The well-bred first-time starters had to have something pretty seriously wrong to be making belated debuts so two of the ones that had already raced finished first and second.
Mike Dini is not a household name in these parts but he wins 20 percent second time out and shows a big, flat-bet profit doing it. CATORIA showed good speed in her career debut at Monmouth Park and had a nice breeze since then. Dismissed at almost 24-1, she gunned to the front for Joel Rosario and never looked back. Odds-on favorite Circle of Love was second in both career starts and she could not make a dent in the stretch. The exacta came back a huge $162.50.
Race 6 saw juvenile New York-bred fillies in a turf sprint. The betting public could not get enough of first-time starter Corey Scores and made her the 9-10 favorite. Jeremiah Englehart's JADED LADY was making her second career start after running second on a sloppy track at Finger Lakes but the experience of that race was big for her. She pressed the pace with Luis Saez and gutted out a half-length win over first-time starter Tradeable. John Hertler does not win with many debut runners so the fact that Tradeable ran well indicates she is a quality filly and should be tough next time out.
Usually, the inner turf course plays against wide draws but we saw Giant Zipper win from post 12 in the first week and Irad Ortiz Jr. gunned FOLLOW THE SIGNS from post 11 and never looked back going a mile for New York-bred first-level allowance runners in Race 7. It was another winner for Steve Asmussen but not ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. since Ortiz rode him last time out. Despite the inner turf listed as firm, the running time of 1:37.20 indicates there is still some moisture in it.
Race 8 was the Shine Again, a seven-furlong dirt sprint for non-winners of an open stakes race this year. I thought the main track would be more speed favoring but the rains never came and it was a bit dull without water put down on it. Javier Castellano sat off a modest pace aboard YOUR LOVE and took over in the stretch. The Chad Brown trainee maintained her advantage to the wire and won by a length as the second choice in the wagering. The running time of 1:23.70 was way slower than what we saw last week.
Race 9 was a New York-bred second-level allowance event and Steve Asmussen and Ricardo Santana Jr. were at it again as BANANA THIEF got up by a nose over second choice Frisky Magician and paid $17.20. The son of Kitten's Joy covered 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon turf course in 1:03.29 but will now have to go back to open company.
Race 10 saw John Kimmel drop DISCREET MISSION down to $16,000 claimers for the first time and the results were immediate as he dominated and set up a $30,629 Pick 6 carryover for Thursday.
In tomorrow's 10th race, Rick Violette sends out SUPERCOMMITTEE (#6) in the maiden $75,000 claimer. She held well to be third against these two starts back then ran well in an off-the-turf event on a muddy track back at Belmont Park. The daughter of good turf sire The Factor draws well and has enough speed to give Jose Ortiz lots of options going into the first turn.