3-9. A fun afternoon. Three winners on top [3rd, $5.80; 5th, $3.70; 8th, $21.20]. Lots of action otherwise... Three cold exactas [3rd, $25.20/$2; 5th, $16.80; 8th, $115.50]. In that 3rd our fourth pick completed the $168.00 tri and our fifth pick completed the $524.00 gimmick in the featured 8th.
When the meet is all said and done we certain to regret our failure to pull the trigger the last couple of days on the Sheppard Specials. Longtime readers know that we depend on trainer Jonathon Sheppard to toss a couple of bombs during the meet each year. Because of the light steeplechase schedule this year it seems as though perhaps Sheppard brought less stock to Saratoga and has run only a few on the flat. But he did bring Dr Bloomer for Friday's 7th race. When Bloomer was entered in a Wednesday race we put him in the second slot and wondered in our comments "The Sheppard Special of the meet"? The Doctor scratched when that race came off the turf -- and when he resurfaced yesterday we were just a little less confident, putting him fourth in our mix. But the profile of a Sheppard Special is precisely that they don't look best in the race -- they jump up to win at a nice price. Shame on us for not being bolder -- Doctor Bloomer won at 14-1. Part of the problem for us was the fact that Hunting Hillbilly was also in the race and we had chased that one through two races at the meet already and thought he had excuses in both. Hillbilly was in the hunt until late at 6-1 and faded to eighth.
We did bailout a little bit by using Dr Bloomer on the Challenge page -- and frankly we also enjoyed a nice payout on track by using our top four in exactas and triples. So it wasn't all bad -- but we would have liked to have had that one to add to our scorecard of winners-on-top.
And, of course, Thursday's features jump stake was won by anther Sheppard runner, Mixed Up, at 4-1. We really debated between that one and Hirapour and eventually went the wrong way. Live and learn. And we should have learned by now not to ignore Sheppard because he's been so good to us in the past!
Friday was Saratoga's first go-around with "twilight racing". First post was 3pm and the experiment seemed to be a success. The weather held nicely. Cloudy but temps were comfortable. Through the first half of the card the crowd seemed a little slim -- but then things picked up and by the last few races there was a nice buzz among the announced 17,993 attending. Standing in front of the clubhouse before the nightcap there were noticeably more people lining the fence to watch then would normally stick around for the finale. Traffic was jammed on surrounding streets well after the races ended. And both Siros [celebrity chef and horse owner Bobby Flay was there] and the Horseshoe had large, enthusiastic crowds well into the night.
A free Funny Cide poster on a first-come, first-served basis to 10,000 patrons.
The Final Stretch music fest takes place on Broadway downtown. Music acts will be performing -- free -- up and down the street from 7-11pm.
Weather forecast is calling for rain -- but things are still dry early on Saturday morning.
Res Ipsa...Looks like a few in here have both plusses and minuses. We might find some value here as this guy only has the one win showing as an on-the-board finish in seven starts. But it looks like they had some high expectation early -- perhaps on turf. But he broke his maiden in an off-the-turf race with a decent Beyer. Now has been dropping down. Showed speed at this level last time. Turf-to-dirt. Moves to new barn. And comes back in five days. Interesting.
Critical Decision...Huge Beyer in maiden win for $50K. Hasn't duplicated that in two subsequent starts -- but eligible to wake-up with the drop.
King Hoss...Would probably rate this one as top pick -- but frankly the jock is cold at the meet. But a wire job wouldn't be a shock.
Timber Reserve...By a win-early sire. Cost $400K at a 2YO sale. Should go well in debut effort.
Gasconade...Another well-bred firster.
Zanjero...Eligible to improve in second start.
Spring At Last...Has had trouble in both starts but should have gotten some good two-turn education last time.
Dubai Gold...Will be rolling late -- just not sure there's enough pace in this short field.
Political Force...Comes back quick for The Chief. Blinkers off. Don't ignore.
Simply Speed...Another 5.5F turf sprint for Linda Rice [She's 5-for-8 at the meet]?
Belle Harbor...Looks to be improving and showed good speed in first try on grass.
Don't Mind Me...They come out ready early form this sire.
On dirt: Don't Mind Me, Belle Harbor, Simply Speed, Ad Muster, Simply Preferred.
Abraaj...Always a little leery about high-priced yearlings that take awhile to make it to the races -- but this one should be competitive if everything is right.
Coronado's Strike...Improved start #1 to start #2 and that last race was featured a tough field -- note that the winner in that race won the G2 Amsterdam earlier at this meet.
Unaffected...Plenty of early foot and might prove tough to reel in.
Fourth of Gold.
Diamond Fever...This 2YO is bred to be a nice one.
Southernconference...Zito having firsters ready is no longer a secret at this meet.
Tater Tutt...The 8/13 workout sticks out.
Stately Pegasus...AE lister. Really debated between our top two in here -- but eventually settled here thinking there's not much speed other than this one and if he does sneak away early he could be tough to catch.
Bachelornumberone...AE lister. Finished ahead of top pick last time and, as we noted, these two were tough to split.
My Man Lars...Couple of nice, improving efforts so far. Should be in the hunt if able to continue moving forward.
On dirt: Stately Pegasus, Baby Yaya, Bronxdale, Executive Search, Sugar Slam, My Man Lars.
EIGHTH RACE - Forego G1 $250K
Nightmare Affair...We chased this horse through some nice prices this winter -- and then missed at that 14-1 last time. But we might get out today since all the expected speed in here should set-up this guy's closing kick.
Pomeroy...Second to top pick last time. Loves this track and that nice lifetime best Beyer in last year's G2 Vanderbilt sticks out.
Mass Media...Closed to win this race last year at 15-1.
NINTH RACE - Woodward G1 $500K
Flower Alley...Will be interesting to see what the betting public makes of this guy because he has the potential to be one of those that gets overlooked because of one bad performance. The Ny bettors are probably too savvy for that and will remember this one's powerful win in two stakes here last summer. But the caveat is, of course, his failure to duplicate that 3YO form so far this season. We'll see...
Sun King...His near-miss in the G1 Whitney was just too good to ignore.
Andromeda's Hero...Always liable to suck-up for a piece.
Back Bay Baron...Hmmm, tossed in an inexplicable dud last time and now takes a significant drop. The red flags are waving but this is a crafty claiming barn they often move them into realistic spots. But this is a big drop. He's the one to beat if all the wheels are on -- but that's the question.
Ocean Forest...Another dropper -- but he's been floating around this level, and doing well.
Lake entry...Riproarious and Clinton Harbor Md both have plenty of early foot.
My Interpretation...Open stakes three back. Tough NY-bred stakes last time. A little class relief and Prado in the saddle is enough to give this one a tepid nod on top.
Fairytale Story...Looks like the one to beat off of the nice improving numbers. Also getting some class relief and had a post position advantage on the top pick.
Holy Kryptonite...Last looks like an aberration. Should rebound if she takes to the surface.
Point Me to It.
On dirt: Montauk Daisy, My Interpretation, Holy Kryptonite, Willi's Sweet Girl, Stellar Maiden, Tally Me Out, Point Me to It.
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