4-10. Slowly but surely we seem to be turning the corner and scoring more wins than places with our top picks. We had four on top Saturday (2nd, $9.50; 6th, $7.80; 7th, $7.80; 10th, $3.90) compared with only two in the place spot. But one of those was quite quirky... Regular readers know that we're always on the lookout for a good Sheppard Special -- one of those annual bombs that trainer Jonathon Sheppard unleashes at the Spa. We like to throw them on top in the picks because the offer very good value. so as we handicapped Saturday's 1st race we really debated about whether to put Sheppard's Forget the Judge on top -- but we eventually went with Colonial Bay on top and the Sheppard runner underneath. But when the post time odds on Forget the Judge turned out to be a very juicy 15-1 we were re-considering our logic. And then when Colonial Bay dwelt at the start we were even more chagrined. And then when Forget the Judge forgot to stop in the stretch and looked like a winner with a furlong to go we were crushed. But then our original fourth choice in the race, Rolled Stocking, came again and just held off the Sheppard runner. So at this point it was our fourth choice over our second choice for what looked to be a nice exacta (5-1 over 15-1 with the big favorite out). But hold all tickets! After reviewing the tape the stewards declared Colonial Bay a non-starter. The horse had reared in the gate and just as the assistant starter took ahold of him the gate opened -- and that caused the horse's poor start from which he couldn't recover. So now the exacta was over third pick over our move-up top choice, but now the odds were 5-2 (favorite) over 11-1. And the exacta, at $59.50/$2 was not quite as lucrative as it could have been. But we almost ended up backing into an 11-1 winner on top -- although I'm not sure how we would have scored that one after the non-starter declaration changed the result.
It was still a pretty good day however. We continued our proficiency in exactas involving our top two selections when we hit the gimmick cold in the 2nd ($33.20/$2) and flip-flopped in the 8th ($28.80/$2). Also our top three boxed for tri's in the 8th ($145.00/$2) and nightcap ($61.50).
Attendance was a solid 33,776. The weather was trying its best not to cooperate. The day was actually fairly nice. Temps were in the low '70's. Some sun broke through but things became overcast and there was a heavy, but relatively brief, downpour prior to the 7th. After that storm blew through things stayed nice through the remainder of the card -- but a steady, heavy sprinkle hit the area perhaps a half hour after the last race. This rain sustained for an hour or so -- but it didn't seem to damper post-race partying at Siro's. Folks enjoyed the Burners UK on the outdoor stage -- most were under the various tents or under their own umbrellas, but a few braved the light shower. When the precip finally stopped folks mingled back into the yard and had a typically good Saturday evening time. Things were still going strong at 9pm.
It's NFL Alumni Day. Some former gridiron greats will be available for autographs from 11-12:30pm.
It's another giveaway day -- today you can pick up a Saratoga T-shirt with each paid admission while supplies last.
If you can't be at the track remember that the Jim Dandy, as well as Monmouth's Haskell, can be seen on ESPN2 at 6pm ET.
Wateree...Not a particularly strong field of state-breds so we'll give this gal the nod on the fact that she's been facing open company in the midwest.
Emptor...Has been getting close the last few tries.
Happy Anna...Might surprise with a little added maturity during the layoff.
Say Hey Willie.
Courriel...Faces winners after having just broken maiden last time -- and that's a big step, but has been improving nicely and place and show horses from maiden-breaker came back to win next out, so that effort might be even better than it looked.
Rich Girl...Also lightly raced and is coming out of a win in a NW1 at Delaware.
I Love The Organ...Maiden breaker two back was impressive. Back in for a tag today.
Amazem Grace/Clay Rocket.
Macao...McGaughey 3YO put in a nice closing effort in career debut as the 5-2 fave. Will be tough if able to improve off of that try.
Wilcox Ridge...Pletcher/Velasquez firster -- and they're always tough. Don't ignore.
Quartz...Looked good in Calder debut.
Nives...Got a nice prep sprinting at Churchill. Will be tough if takes to grass.
Stock Tip...Biancone always tough first time out.
Fonda Ronda...Not a bad debut after having some traffic trouble. Add blinkers.
On dirt: Stock Tip, Fonda Ronda/Spikes, Island Reversal, Stormy Weather, Paddy's Daisy.
Gebb's Dixie...Nice improving form in three starts this season.
Aquilino entry...Sabellina preferred -- showed marked improvement when moved to turf.
Little Buttercup...Pletcher/Velasquez filly is the one to beat. Has yet to miss board in nine career starts.
On dirt: Nevaeh, E Ticket, Zukinikiki, Leedle Dee, Market Guru.
Gracious Humor...Won nicely last time this one was dropped in for a tag.
Spooky Mulder...Expect a rebound from poor performance at Canterbury. Will be tough if able to capture prior form.
Dubai Sheikh...Fits at this level and Asmussen is 30% first-off the claim.
Grey Traffic...Lightly raced filly from Frankel/Bailey. Ran second in a G2 three back.
Provincial...Just missed in similar event last time at Belmont.
Dance Tune...Nice 4-1-2-1 record so far -- and that win was scored in his one try at 7F.
Governor Brown...The trip is a concern but this Clement 4YO has been knocking at the door since arriving stateside. Picks up Johnny V today.
Hawksbill...Frankel turfer is the one to beat off of two good races since invading from Europe.
Dynamite Flyer...2-2 so far. Nice turf work for this on 8/3.
On dirt: Tales of Glory, Broadway View, Feel the Wind, Rowans Park, Big Country.
NINTH RACE - Jim Dandy G2 $500K
The Cliff's Edge...Likes the track and if anyone can run down Medallist it should be this guy.
Medallist...Appeared to be something special with big front-running win in G2 Dwyer. But two turns in a question mark.
Swingforthefences...Another that should be in the hunt late.
Hottentot...Always like this setup: Came back from layoff to run to sprints, now stretches to two turns.
Russian Sweetiepie...Won a similar event here last season.
Takeiteasyedye...Comes in off of a couple of turf wins.
On dirt: Childress, Takeiteasyedye, Fidget, Candybedandy, Give and Take.
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