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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reflections on Saratoga’s Opening Day Races

Previous commenter Charles is right on about watching out for Lion Heart babies. In the slop at Saratoga on opening day, Nick Zito-trained Brave Victory ($4.50 place) just missed catching Cool Coal Man’s gray half-brother Cognito in race 2, while D. Wayne Lucas-trained Cameron Crazies ($17.20 place) popped a bit of a surprise, finished second in the G3 Schuylerville at 22-1.

The winners in both those races—Cognito (Langfuhr) and Jardin (Montbrook)—are Steve Asmussen trainees. Asmussen also won race 6 with Jazz Nation to take the early win lead over Rick Dutrow who won consecutive races with Building New Era and Stormin Normandy.

In the other baby race (for New York-breds), young sire Hook and Ladder shined with sons Lookin at Her ($11.40 win) and Vinnie Van Go ($4.20 place) forming a nice $1 exacta payout of $22.10. Currently, Hook and Ladder is #10 on the Leading NY Sires list, but I suspect he'll being moving up more quickly this year. Personally, I'm looking foward to the return of his best performer Big Truck, hopefully at Saratoga.

I was also thrilled to see Alan Garcia continue to thrive; he scored in all but one race in which he rode, with two consecutive winners (Accredit and Theartofcompromise), a second (Lee Stewart) and a third (Gone Astray). Maybe it's just because he is getting good horses, but I like the vibe of the young jock—and maybe I’m not the only one who has a little “jockey crush” on him, eh Teresa?

Barring scratches, there are several babies I’ll be closely watching on Thursday. I suspect Asmussen may continue his winning streak with Stunning Electra in race 2, if Tom Bush’s Not a Peep doesn’t take to the wet track or bounces from her big effort last out—the Belmont race that gave us Doremifasollatido. The first-time starter I like here is Tomorrows Roses, who comes in with a string of nice works including two bullet gate works most recently, and the last one over the distance of this race.

In race 5, lots of interesting angles. There’s the high-priced first-time starter Cats, an $875K Fasig-Tipton purchase last August, going out for D. Wayne Lukas. The Suave One has a coupled entry, the Smarty Jones first-timer Smarty Marty and $350K Ocala purchase Market at Midday, the latter of whom should love the wet going. However, John Velazquez has abandoned her for Shug McGaughey’s first-timer Siren Serenade—daughter of multiple-G1 winner Versailles Treaty and three-quarter sister to G1-placed Saarland (who won the G2 Remsen at 2). And then there’s Mine All Mine who Wesley Ward scratched from yesterday’s Schuylerville. I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy this one, unless there are lots of scratches or if Garcia is having another day like Wednesday—then I’ll take a chance on Venado.

In the G2 Sanford, I’m taking the “clever or cute name” route to handicapping, with Phosphorescent (by Rock Slide out of In Glowing Colors) and, particularly, Dagnabit. The latter has several positives—broke his maiden on off-track, came up late to win the 5.5f Tremont, third-place finisher in that Essenceofthemoon came back to romp over an allowance field at Delaware four days ago, Rick Dutrow-trainee. Now if only Tom Durkin can call him the winner in his best Elmer Fudd voice...


Teresa said...

For shame, Valerie! I try to reserve my jockey crushes for those over 30...

Fenway said...

Do you know who trains Xtra Heat's 2yo, Elusive Heat (x Elusive Quality, of course!)? EH has notched some bullets at Saratoga.

Valerie Grash said...


According to Alan over at Left at the Gate, Kiaran McLaughlin is Elusive Heat's trainer. Can't wait to see her run!! I have a good feeling about her carrying on her mama's legacy.