4-9. Like Wednesday, we were off to a hot start -- hitting three of the first four -- and then we cooled down. However, we managed to end things on an up note by gabbing the winner in the nightcap as well (1st, $6.70; 3rd, $2.40; 4th, $5.90; 9th, $7.90).
On the gimmick-side, in the opener our first pick topped our third selection for the $27.80/$2 exacta. In the 4th, with our top pick winning, our other three scrambled underneath for the $103.50 tri and $145.00 super. And our top two flip-flopped for the meager $6.30 exacta in the feature race.
The crowd of 31691 was "spinner-inflated" for the giveaway bobblehead of 'Sam the Bugler'. Sam -- along with his twin brother -- was spotted mingling through the crowd autographing the doll. Regardless of the announced total the crowd did seem healthy for a weekday and they enjoyed some gorgeous weather. Temps were warm but comfortable with none of the humidity that plagued Opening Day.
On-track, the formidable Spa pair of Pletcher/Velazquez made a statement that they're going to contend for titles again this year by teaming up to win three races on the card, and Johnny V added a fourth win on the afternoon for another trainer. Trainer Patrick Biancone swept the late double. His Henny Hughes had a facile four-length victory in the featured Saratoga Special. Reports came out earlier this week that the horse was purchased privately after his win in the Tremont for a seven-figure sum.
Off-track, Congress Park downtown was filled with the mirth of the Bard as the Saratoga Shakepeare Company performed before a few hundred people on blankets and bag chairs. The run continues through the weekend, Fri-Sat at 6pm, and Sun at 2pm.
Hasslefree...Another drop down the claiming ladder for 4YO form Lukas/Lewises. Should be set up for a good run coming out of two one-turn tries at Belmont.
Stellianos...Fits at this level.
Epic...If able to repeat efforts from May and June this one will be tough -- but those were against cheaper.
Ready to Talk...Like the set-up: Stretches to two turns on grass after a couple of decent dirt sprints. Pletcher/Velazquez.
Chettan County...OK try in turf sprint debut despite some trouble. Looks like the kind of race to build on.
Mott entry...Mott's not known for first-time out winners but both Island Design and Violent Beauty look capable of being heard from.
Embraceable You...Should find the drop and return to 6F to her liking.
Uboughtwhat...Another that should appreciate move in against cheaper.
Sacre Via...A little bit of a hard read coming out of Churchill and Mountaineer but could contend with an improved effort.
Kiss and Go.
Charming Jill...Shows good, improving form in three starts against open company. Finished just behind India last time and that one won here Thursday.
Wampum...If this one ever gets a clean start she'll be tough to beat.
Blenny...Trainer good with 2YOs. Over 20% second-start.
Potrisunrise...Had trouble and probably not his best distance last time. Cuts back, drops -- merits tepid nod in a very contentious race.
Big EE...Won a couple at this level decisively in the spring.
Cahill Mango... Mate to top pick might try to steal it from the rail.
Only the Best.
Brigadier Brooks...Mott's been going great guns for awhile now and this 3YO has been running well enough to win here -- and can do it today with BIG jock switch.
My Ballet...Nice, improving form and makes third start off layoff.
Seven Tunes...Could come out running.
Quick One...Moves into NW1 off of debut win -- big jump, but that last race was just too good to ignore. Prado sticks.
Royal Fudge...Think this one is better than latest. Expect a rebound to form shown against open company in Kentucky.
Champagne Ending...Third in a state-bred stake last time.
Connie Belle...Will need to step it up just a bit but she looks like she's slowly getting the hang of the game and we expect that good move forward today for Mott/Bailey.
Laurafina...Behind the very talented Melhor Ainda in a G2 tow back. Followed up with a nice NW1 win last time.
Who's Cozy...Should be up close or in front early -- and we expect her to be able to hold on late.
Spin Factor...Pletcher/Bailey? ...With Velazquez riding for Barbara?!? Looks like maybe JV was committed elsewhere for this one's first start and Todd wants to stick with Bailey now that he knows the horse. Good second in debut. Now some equipment changes. Pletcher is super second-time out of the box.
One Good Man...Really stepped it up when introduced to the grass.
Hippy Hippy Red...Long-time maiden has been racing well enough lately to be heard from in here.
Here's Ya Souvenir.
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