Equidaily Racing Journal

Today's Best Bets

by Seth Merrow

Saratoga Race Course
Sunday, September 3, 2006
Meet Total ... 86-316

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0-11. Oh no -- with emphasis on the "O"! We tossed our first oh-fer of the meet. Perhaps our first in a few meets... And, unfortunately, that virtually guarantees that we won't break the century-mark. With only twenty races remaining we're all but mathematically shutout in that quest. But we'll continue to plug away as the battle among the public handicappers is tight with a small group leading things in the mid-90s and another pack just behind and right in our mid-80s vicinity.

It was only a week or so ago that we looked around at the crowd on-track and wondered why racing can't market itself better -- or perhaps differently -- and bring more of these people to tracks around the country on a regular basis. Undoubtedly Saratoga is special -- large crowds with a good mix of young and old, male and female, hardcore punters and casual fans. So we wondered -- if it works so well here, why can't it work elsewhere?

But alas, even the magic of Saratoga seems to have it's limits. Even with two solid G1 races and the return of Funny Cide, the attendance was an incredibly disappointing 13,111. Mind-bogglingly low for a Saturday at Saratoga [albeit, while still probably healthier than numbers that would be recorded downstate]. Perhaps with the end of summer and school right around the corner -- many folks just don't see Saratoga as a destination once that calendar page turns. And certainly the threat of inclement weather -- which was the forecast -- kept some fans away.

It's too bad however, because whereas Saratoga has been snake-bit in the past on big days weather-wise, Mother Nature gave us a pass on Saturday. As mentioned, the forecast called for rain during the day from the remnants of Ernesto. Instead there was a heavy cloud cover and a couple of sprinkles early -- but really no precipitation to speak of. In other words, a fine day for racing. Temps were cool and it was cloudy -- but everyone stayed dry and the tracks were fast and firm.

The mystique of a Kentucky Derby winner is interesting. In the paddock prior to the G1 Woodward, media attention was clearly focused on Funny Cide. Cameras were clicking away and video was rolling as the 6YO gelding was being saddled. And when the horses paraded to the track the crowd lining the rail -- sparse though it was -- applauded as Funny Cide trotted by. The trackside crowd also gave him a round of applause when Tom Durkin called his name in the post parade. Unfortunately, Funny Cide lacked any punch when the real running began in the Woodward, finishing eighth in the field of ten. Also disappointing was Flower Alley. After showing so much promise at the end of his 3YO campaign -- with wins in the G2 Jim Dandy, G1 Travers, and a solid second in the G1 BC Classic -- he has now fizzled in two straight G1 events this year. Hard to know what to make of this turnaround...

It was the second head-scratcher of the day -- along with the attendance figures...


A fleece blanket giveaway with each paid admission while supplies last.

The Final Stretch music fest takes place on Broadway downtown. Music acts will be performing -- free -- up and down the street from 7-11pm.

Men's Club...A tepid vote. Has been going well -- but against much better, so the drop raises red flags. And we'd be much happier with a hotter jock onboard.
Desert Quest...Looks like he fits at this level and goes turf-to-dirt.
Wood Winner...Also seems to fit at this price. Might appreciate some moisture in the track.
No Called Strikes.

Mr Component...Solid debut despite some trouble. Clearly the one to beat with a repeat or improvement.
Max Cam...Longtime maiden has been going well since moving in against state-breds.
Lion Song...A couple of place-finishes in last two tries against NY-breds.
Executive Search.

Getcozywithkaylee...Looks to be maybe a little better than these.
In the Gold...Should find some class relief here.
Toll Taker...Has some early foot and wet track experience.

Holly Time...Lightly raced but showing plenty of talent and potential.
Dade County...Return to the races was impressive.
Hither Lane...Also looked good in his comebacker.
Bold Mon.

Rocket Legs...Ran well in debut despite trouble and Pletcher is 33% with second-time starters.
Royal War Academy...Looks to be well-bred for the grass.
Storm Scene...That 6/24 work signals some obvious talent.
Chita Tycoon.
You're the Mon/Curvature.
Spy in the Sky.
On dirt: Rocket Legs, Wollaston Bay, Chita Tycoon, Sipsey, Mott entry, Brooker D, Piggott, Spy in the Sky, Storm Scene.

Roanoke's Best...Just missed against Jules for AJ two back and now goes turf-to-dirt.
Birthday Song...Gutsy win for $40K last time now comes back for $35K.
Jules for AJ...Hard to argue with the 2-2 record since arriving upstate. Would probably rate higher if Prado was still onboard. Pino's a solid rider -- but we just prefer the guys who are experiencing the track day-in and day-out.
Embraceable You.

Imperial Reign...$1 mil 2YO purchase should have gotten a good education in debut.
Saint Pegasus...Interesting. Near-miss in debut for Mott -- on turf. Now comes back on dirt.
Autobahn Girl...Well-bred and ran into a monster of a performance in her first try. Dangerous.
Whimsical Miss.

EIGHTH RACE - Saranac G3 $100K
Desert Wheat...Should find some value with this Mott turfer. Just feel he has more talent than his record this year indicates. Will be rolling late.
Green Lemon...Might be on the improve.
Spider Power...Another that might get overlooked on his recent record -- which shows plenty of stakes power but hasn't won in last three.
On dirt: Congo King, Thundering Success, Classic Pack, Desert Wheat, Sadler's Trick, Rock Lobster.

NINTH RACE - Spinaway G1 $250K
Cotton Blossom...Pletcher 2YO filly won opening day stake at 8-1 -- looks eligible to bookend the meet.
X Star...Showed talent in debut win and look capable of making a move into this type of company.
Appealing Zophie...Moved straight from MSW win into stake. Ran second in that one and should benefit from the experience.
Ruby Crown.

Derivative Trader...Third to a repeat winner in a decent dirt debut. Then followed-up with an OK third on grass when dropped to $45K. Jock change might tip the balance. Must overcome post position.
Senorita Ballado...Look for an improved performance moving down from MSW.
A'int Shy...Eligible to come back as an improved more mature performer.
Irish Ballerina.
On dirt: Crispy Cat, Derivative Trader, Birds Up, Senorita Ballado, A'int Shy.

If we are interested in both halves of an entry -- in event of a scratch -- it is noted that way [in other words, both halve are named]. If only one-half of the entry is named, then we prefer that half and will move to our next pick listed [rather than the other half of the entry] in event of a scratch.

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