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Saturday morning, July 28th
A short report (well, short for long-winded me, anyway!) on a dismally rainy morning. I am very glad that I am not in the room with the track officials who will need to decide if/when to pull the Diana off the turf. Actually, if the current weather keeps up, there will be no decision to make—everything will come to the dirt. I’ve read in several publications that Nick Zito would welcome a sloppy track for his runners in the Vanderbilt and the Whitney. Commentator, running in the Vanderbilt, narrowly beat St. Liam in an exciting Whitney two years ago.
Got to the track around 7:30 am and already every picnic table in the backyard was secured. It’s a longtime tradition that once you have claimed a table (or any seat, really) by placing newspaper, a folding chair, a tablecloth on it, it’s yours, and nobody takes it, so most people here go early, secure seats, and then go home until the racing starts, secure in the knowledge that their seats will be waiting for them. I was surprised to find earlier this year that this is NOT the case at Keeneland, at least according to a couple of locals that I met there. It will be interesting to see how many of those people actually show up later, if the bad weather keeps up. I set up two folding chairs for my brother and me, and it will be a real treat to sit in them later, as they will undoubtedly be saturated.
Not much to report from the workouts this morning, but I did want to note something I forgot to include last night. Yesterday’s sixth race, an ungraded stakes, was notable not only for quality of the fillies and mares, but also for the fact that two of them were racing in foal. This is not unusual, and it’s not uncommon for a mare in foal to win—I’ve seen it happen on several occasions. Not so much yesterday—Iron Goddess was third and Sabellina, a long-time favorite of mine, was sixth. This is Sabellina’s third race since being bred to Pulpit in May, and her best finish was third.
The rain has now stopped and the sky is getting brighter…I can see those NYRA guys doing a sun dance somewhere on the grounds…
No need for a pass at all--gates open at 7 am and admission is free at that point; you can wander anywhere on the grounds, which will be cleared at 10 am.
You can pay for a trackside buffet breakfast, bring your own, or buy bagels, muffins, coffee, juice, etc. for a concession on the ground floor of the clubhouse.
I worked at Fasig-Tipton in college--love going there to check out the sales. Good luck buying and/or selling!
Someone else I know is staying at the Microtel Inn in Latham--around $90/night, I think. I don't know anything about the place, but Latham is 30-40 minutes from here. There's also a decent Holiday Inn Express in Latham at which I once stayed during a conference, so you could check that out.
Wolf Road in Colonie (near Albany, probably 45 minutes from here) used to have a strip of hotels including the Hampton Inn. You could check there, too.
Clifton Park is closer, and I don't know whether their rates would be cheaper, but there are probably lots of chain hotels there, too.
You don't have to get there right at 7 am for the workouts; they go until 10 am, and I almost never get there right when the gates open.
Saturday evening, July 28th
Four amazing races by the top runners in the game. I went to the track late today (in a vain attempt to stop the betting bleeding—more on that later) and really focused on only the four big races today. The rain stopped late morning and it was a glorious day—the NYRA guys must have been thanking the racing gods for keeping the rain from their parade. The winners of these four races earn an automatic berth into their division in this fall’s Breeders’ Cup.
My Typhoon was awesome in the Diana. I have to say, I just love the whole idea of the Diana: a race for swift fillies named after a goddess; I’m an English teacher and the whole thing appeals to my literary sensibilities. My Typhoon is just a wonderful filly who loves Saratoga; she won last year in a grade II and finished fourth in last year’s Diana, when four fillies hit the wire within a length of each other—a head bob one way or another would have made a difference in the order of finish, so that fourth last year isn’t as bad as it looked.
My favorite bet is the three-horse, $1 exacta box, for $6. I will occasionally take one of the three and place a win bet as well, but today, I vowed to stick to the $6 per race bet (see stopping the bleeding, above). I had My Typhoon, but my other horses finished third and sixth. When one’s exacta horses finish first and third, it’s called having your exacta split, and it is a term with which I am all too familiar, unfortunately.
I have a soft spot for Nick Zito—I like him, I like his horses—so I have a hard time ignoring them in any race. So in the Vanderbilt, I boxed Commentator, Diabolical, and Simon Pure. 1st: Diabolical 2nd: Attila’s Storm 3rd: Simon Pure. My second split exacta of the day. I was debating between Attila’s Storm and Simon Pure…woulda, coulda, shoulda.
I have always loved both Teammate and Miss Shop, and I usually bet one or the other in a race—and the “other” always wins. I bet Teammate, Miss Shop wins. I bet Miss Shop, Teammate wins. Maddening! Today in the Go for Wand, I thought I would outsmart the racing gods and bet both, and I figured to use Ginger Punch as the third horse. At the last minute, I went off Ginger Punch to Ermine…and you know how that turned out. 1st: Ginger Punch 2nd: Miss Shop 3rd: Teammate. OK, so it wasn’t first and third, but it was second and third, and it was definitely not first and second. Have I used the term “maddening”??!! My own financial considerations aside, Ginger Punch ran a terrific race and silenced any skeptics she might have had.
Handicapping the Whitney was both fun and, um, maddening. You could make a case for virtually every horse in the race, and it was hard for me to set aside my sentimental favorites, so yes, I used Sun King, even though I didn’t really think he had a chance (this is one of the downfalls of my betting strategies: I’d rather regret making the bet than not making it. So I’d rather lose money betting Sun King than have him win when I have no money on him. You will note that these are not the practices of a real bettor).
I have never been a big Lawyer Ron fan and have been present at his last two races (Met Mile at Belmont in May and Salvatore Mile at Monmouth in June). The former was a mediocre at best effort (though he did finish third), but he closed well at Monmouth and I thought the extra distance today would serve him well. My third horse was an admitted outsider and longshot, Awesome Twist. I had it right with Lawyer Ron, but my other two finished last and next to last, and unfortunately, my win bet was with Sun King, not with Lawyer Ron, who ran a mighty impressive race (setting a track and stakes record) and changed my thinking about him. I still can’t believe that Wanderin Boy set that pace and hung in for second, but at least my man Nick Zito got a big check today, albeit for yet another second in a Grade I.
Tomorrow is the Grade II Jim Dandy, named for the horse who defeated Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in the 1930 Travers at odds of 100-1. And yes, another Nick Zito horse is entered…wish me luck!
What a beauty Ginger Punch is. A real "Ginger." Her color and mane! She must get henna treatments for her locks :):)
What a race she ran today! And they were going to retire her. If I remember, she is age 7?
The girls ran a great race!
"I have never been a big Lawyer Ron fan and have been present at his last two races (Met Mile at Belmont in May and Salvatore Mile at Monmouth in June). The former was a mediocre at best effort (though he did finish third)"
I will pay you $100 dollars to say that to Todd Pletcher's face at Saratoga:) $200 to say it to Cordero...
LR broke from post 1 in the Met and didn't have the best trip down on the inside. Mediocre is harsh even for a horse you (and others) don't like. But you all are making him MY favorite horse:)
She ran a monster race, Dawn--so exciting to watch her.
I wonder, though, if you're thinking of another horse in terms of age? Ginger Punch is four.