Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

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Saratoga Race Course
Monday, August 23, 2004
Meet Total ... 61-216

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Yesterday

4-10. Like Saturday we got off to a blazing start (four of the first six) and then kind of limped home. Four winners on top (1st, $5.70; 2nd, $6.10; 4th, $3.70; 6th, $5.10). and there were plenty of gimmicks to be had -- although, again like Saturday, not a whole lot of value -- as our picks filled out the top three spots in six of the ten races. We had the early double cold ($15.00/$2). It was our top pick besting our third and second choices for the $56.50/$2 tri in the 1st. We had a cold exacta in the 2nd ($18.60/$2; quin, $10.00). Our top three boxed for the $58.00/$2 tri in the 5th. A cold $10.00/$2 exacta in the 6th. And a few other tickets cold have been cashed using the picks as well...

Handicapping tip: When you see Pletcher's main man, jockey John Velasquez, jump off a second-time starter for Todd (and the trainer has a 27% win stat in that category) in favor of another -- DON'T IGNORE! In yesterday's 3rd Velasquez passed up a return ride on Pletcher's Storm N Lightning in favor of first-timer Galloping Grocer from trainer Dominick Schettino. Even though that trainer is only about 9% with firsters, Grocer won off by almost twelve in near track record time. Sometimes ya just gotta read between the lines...

Wow! We'll never know the real attendance because 'spinners' (it was pint glass giveaway day) inflated the numbers -- but it was legitimately a H-U-G-E crowd. Folks were sprinting for picnic tables like it was a Travers Day when the gates opened at dawn. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper on Union Avenue before the third race. The place was jumpin'. NYRA hit the trifecta, pint glass giveaway, beautiful weather, and Funny Cide!

The fans were lined up five deep prior to the featured Saratoga BC and they broke into spontaneous applause as Funny Cide was walked into the paddock. Media gathered around last year's Derby winner and by the time the players rolled down the stretch the house was ready to rock and roll with cheers for the hometown hero. Alas it was not meant to be as Evening Attire shook out of his 2004 funk by relishing the return to Saratoga, a track he loves, and winning over a strip that probably still had some moisture in it even though it was labeled 'fast' -- and that's really Evening Attire's specialty, his off-track record going into yesterday was 9-4-4-0. Funny Cide put up a bold effort however, running wide most of the way and sitting close to some fast early fractions and still holding on for second. The race time was a legit 2:00.83, four ticks off the track record.

And is anyone riding hotter right now than Cornelio Velasquez? He won the feature on Sunday's card as well as one other to total out at 18 so far for the meet -- good for fourth place behind J Velasquez, Bailey, and Prado. Those three are NY regulars -- and of course J Velasquez has the Pletcher juggernaut working for him -- whereas CV is not. So he's really impressing over the past week or so -- especially on the grass.

And is the betting public jumping on Best Bets picks with too much gusto?!? One of our "Sheppard Specials" Sunday was Vallonga in the 8th. We were expecting some good value on this one because she hadn't run since October 2002. We could only shake our heads when she opened up the favorite and wound up the 3-1 second-choice when the gates opened. Unfortunately she ran like she needed one -- or two, or three -- but the price was just ridiculous. Maybe the "Sheppard Specials" aren't so special anymore (although we happily took the $18 price last Monday on Spanish Spur!).

The attendance figure was listed as 70,175. Weather was near picture perfect. Sunny and nice temps.


Today

FIRST RACE
Gone to Be King...did everything we could to try to find something to beat him because he's going to take some money off the decent looking debut -- but not convinced he's that tough. However the rest of these just didn't offer anything to really latch on to -- so we're stuck here.
Kitty Connection...Might appreciate the cutback to a sprint -- looked solid three back at 7F. Also adds blinkers and Prado.
Of All Times...Big improvement shown in 2004 debut and solid work on 8/5. Took a long look at this one to grab the 'W' but connections are ice-cold.
Run Along Sonny.

SECOND RACE
Ahpo Here...Took a break this spring and came back with a good grass try. Should be ready for a good run today.
My Man Ryan...Been going well since May.
Beau Tie...Wouldn't be any surprise on the drop for Lake/Velasquez.
Heir D'Twine.

THIRD RACE
Unshuttered...Can't ignore Mott's 35% stat second off the layoff.
Sazerac Song...Toss last on the muddy track. Prior race was promising.
Tap'n Tango...Stretches out off of two improving sprints.
Our Rite of Spring.

FOURTH RACE
Oracle of Omaha...Violette trainees tend to improve second start and this one had some trouble in debut.
Belarion...Could be tough if takes to the lawn.
You Are a Kris...Iwinski is 27% with second starters.
Sheperdsville.
Gold Minister.

FIFTH RACE
Motivus...Drops in for a tag and returns to turf.
The Penny Drops...Won first-time in for tag two back, now takes another drop down the ladder.
Peace Emblem...Also takes a drop that should be beneficial.
Orpington.
On dirt: Diligent Gambler, Kid Tuaca, Gold Reserve, Skip Court.

SIXTH RACE
Precision Perfect...The fades are a little scary but he's getting better. Ran behind a nice looking Caribbean Cruiser last time.
Yankee Magic...Beaten fave in debut and trainer is better second-time out.
Carminooch...Pletcher/Velasquez firster.
Sort It Out.

SEVENTH RACE
Hurricane Hannah...Will need to step it up a little here but should be capable off of two improving efforts so far this season.
Ormsbys Treasure...Speedy sort picks up Prado today.
High Peaks...Last looks perhaps a little flukey. Should find it tougher today to lead all the way with Ormsby Treasure on the outside.
Just Gabi.

EIGHTH RACE -- Lake Placid G2 $150K
Spotlight...Bailey should go for the lead, try to slow it down, and sprint them home.
Lucifer's Stone...Better than last. The one to beat.
Mambo Slew...Won a G3 in last NY foray.
Vous.
Delta Sensation.
On dirt: Bending Strings, Shadow Cast, Fortunate Damsel.

NINTH RACE
Krasnaya...Been going well lately. A little iffy though on his tries over less than firm going.
Two Mile Hill...Has yet to live up to $1.25 mil purchase price but might wake-up with move to turf.
Erase...Mott filly is usually in the hunt.
Music Way.
On dirt: Points West, Two Mile Hill, Whoopi Cat, Spring Season, Get Set, Ice n'Gold.


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