Saratoga Diary: Wet & Off the Turf

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TwinSpires Staff

July 26th, 2018


Heavy rain hit Saratoga Wednesday night and into Thursday morning resulting in a very wet main track and not only was there no turf racing but the steeplechase that was scheduled for race 1 was postponed until Monday.

The action started in race 2 and the track started out listed as Sloppy on the toteboard. For the second day in a row, the Equibase chart shows that it was Sloppy (sealed) and it definitely was since I watched the tractors go by clock-wise with the floats attached. Speed, or at least the ability to avoid the wet kickback, seemed to be the way to go as GENERALIST went to the front for Javier Castellano and never looked back. As usual for 6 ½-furlong main track races, the first quarter was run in 21.74 seconds and it was the 8th winner of the meet for leading trainer Chad Brown and 9th for leading rider Javier Castellano.

Race 3 was an off-the-turf 5 ½-furlong sprint and Jose Ortiz gunned first-time dirt horse Black Canary to the lead and held it grimly until deep stretch where main-track-only PICTURE DAY ran him down. Even with the six-horse field, the exacta with a 6.75-1 over a 3.75-1 came back a whopping $98 for a $2 bet.

Joel Rosario looked like he had pace edge in race 4 aboard LA FREE VERTE and after gunning her to the front, she never looked back for Wayne Lukas. The 2-5 favorite, Fiduciary Values, struggled over the track and finished fourth.

Race 5 was a non-descript 1 1/8-mile event for $16K claimers. Irad Ortiz, Jr. sent 3-2 favorite BRIMSTONE to the front and he raced well off the rail. David Cohen tried to press the pace on the outside aboard Imperatore and found himself carried out wider and wider around the far turn. Jose Ortiz got Top of the Page going and it looked like the Ortiz brothers would finish one-two. Irad kept drifting out aboard Brimstone and Cohen wisely dove to the inside for clear running. It looked like there was bumping in the stretch as Brimstone held on, Top of the Page weakened and Imperatore rallied back on the inside to get second.

Here is where it gets interesting. Despite Brimstone obviously drifting out, there was no claim of foul from Jose against brother Irad. Luckily, as they have been doing most of the meet, the stewards posted the Inquiry sign. After many views of the replay, they let the result stand. It was another example of riders not claiming foul because of various conflicts. The stewards were right to post the Inquiry sign and regardless of their final decision, they did the right thing since it gave us the replay angles that we need. I would have taken down the winner but that’s just me.

Race 6 was a good group of allowance, non-winners of one fillies and mares going nine furlongs on the Sloppy (sealed) track. Todd Pletcher sent out ALBERBELLO and Johnny Velazquez had her in front every step of the way to win by over five lengths in 1:49.40. It was her first start going long and even with the track in her favor, she passed the test with flying colors.

Saratoga is known for super tough maiden special weight races and race 7 fit the bill for 3yos and up. FULLY VESTED looked to have a ton of speed in here and Joe Bravo was able to use it to best advantage as he carved out a first half-mile in 44.25 seconds and never looked back. The son of Discreet Cat won by over five lengths in the racehorse time of 1:09.58 seconds. The addition of blinkers seemed to have him more focused and being a new gelding did not hurt either. Big Muddy broke poorly and finished full of run.

$50K claimers contested race 8 on the Muddy (sealed) track and a speed duel developed between odds-on favorite Secret House and Doyouknowsomething. Secret House won the battle but lost the war as he surged to the lead only to be run down by perfect-trip G ZAP and Kendrick Carmouche.

John Morrissey himself would have proud of the slugfest in the stretch of the race named after one of Saratoga’s founders. WEEKEND HIDEAWAY had the lead in the deep stretch and Luis Saez shut off Eric Cancel and Celtic Chaos in the deep stretch. The stewards took a look and let the result stand as Saez was under no obligation to let Cancel through up the rail. The winner of this race in 2014 broke his maiden here on a sloppy track in 2012.

The final race of the day was an off-the-turf 5 ½-furlong sprint for 2yo fillies. Third-time starter Super Simple used her experience to best advantage as she finished between horses to eke out a nose win. There was a steward’s inquiry since the winner had to come out as the leader tired. After a long time, they disqualified Super Simple and placed her second behind GUACAMOLE, who took the worst of it in the stretch. I had a big win bet on Super Simple but can’t argue with the decision.

Friday Selection

There is a front coming through the area tomorrow afternoon so it’s anyone’s guess what condition the courses will be Friday. Race 8 is a non-winners of two allowance event going nine furlongs on the main track and despite having many gaps in his record, I like Danny Gargan’s SIR BALLANTINE. He won two starts back going a one-turn mile at Aqueduct then came back to run an even fourth in a wide trip on a sloppy track. The son of Stay Thirsty draws the rail and gets Kendrick Carmouche, who is 25% riding for Gargan.