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Pricci's Saratoga Diary
For the next 40 days of New York racing, Executive Editor John Pricci will provide his insights on all things Saratoga for the 35th consecutive year in his original "Saratoga Diary." It debuted in 1977, the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown and Jatski was placed first in the Travers Stakes following the disqualification of Run Dusty Run. So keep up with the cold exactas, hot issues, and build your own stable of live horses, all from John's unique perspective, exclusively at HorseRaceInsider.com.
 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Questing, Ortiz On Their Way to Stardom?


Diary Day 3: Hello Weekend Warriors

July 21, 2012—The first Saturday of the meet dawned brightly, so the chances that speed types will continue to hold an edge seemed reasonable.

The card started strongly, on the firm turf course, in fact, the Willard Straight Stakes at 5-1/2 furlongs featuring a salty group of seasoned stakes class sprinters.

The warriors went for Bridgetown—in fact, overboard for Bridgetown at 95-cents on the dollar, who could do no better than third behind the talented Fiddlers Patriot, for the suddenly white hot George Weaver barn.

Perfect Officer finished well too late but saved the place in a photo with the favorite. Time for the 5-1/2 furlongs? Try 1:00.63, missing the course record by 4/100s of a second. See, timing in hundredths does matter.

Haven’t seen many of the juvenile races this season at Belmont Park; my bad. But I saw one yesterday and witnessed a colt that might have a bright future, indeed.

The debuting colt is named Spurious Precision. Sold at the 2YO Ocala Breeders Sales this spring, the price of $105K was three times the average for offspring of High Cotton, so the chances were that he would be a looker.

Spurious Precision is a looked and a runner. More than that, he finished professionally and when he entered the circle, he filled the eye with his scope. He’s a big boy.

After bearing out a bit at the start and bumping with a rival, he took a position off the flank of Exploring, engaged from about the three-path on the turn, took command then, after shaking the competition, he drew off leaving the sixteenth pole and won by 3-1/2 lengths in a worthy 1:03.49.

Show Some Magic was a game runnerup. After surviving his bumping match at the start, he recovered nicely, stalked the leaders on the turn, set sail about 4 wide into the stretch, chased the winner briefly but could not match strides late.

If we’re correct about the winner, then this guy will find the circle in his next start; bet on it.

Note to turf racing fans. The races thus far have been extremely contentious and unless we get some rain soon to take some of the sting out of both grass courses, it’s going to be jockey and trainer racing, not horse racing.

As if grass racing weren’t dependent enough on the trip!

The Grade 1 Coaching Club lived up to its billing as a speed display for the extraordinarily fast Questing, only it didn’t go quite according to script.

Unlike in her recent allowance win at Belmont, she was settled into an attending position by Irad Ortiz Jr. as Yara and her new blinkers wasted themselves up on the lead.

Questing moved up to take an attending position, Ortiz waiting for the five-sixteenths to ask in earnest, at which point she opened three into the lane.

Mother Goose winner Zo Impressive moved up menacing at headstretch but Questing opened the lead out and it was over. Zo Impressive maintained place over favorite In Lingerie, who moved boldly at mid-turn but failed to sustain her run, settling for third.

Questing continued forwardly but drifted extremely wide from the area of the sixteenth pole to the wire but she was never in dangerous of winning a Grade 1 in her stakes debut.

The filly is owned by Godolphin Stable and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who won this race last year with It’s Tricky, one of this year’s leading 4-year-olds.

***

CHARITY BEGINS AT THE SPA: As much as anything, the Saratoga season is about charitable functions as anything else.

Of course, these are difficult times for the 98 percent, and most everyone has contribution fatigue these days, but I’m compelled to bring a few items to your attention, especially if you’re planning to visit the area—or are already here.

Everyone in the area has heard of Old Friends at Cabin Creek, a retirement farm in Greenfield Center, about 10 minutes west of the town of Saratoga.

This coming dark day, Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., they are officially welcoming Commentator to the farm. The 11-year-old gelding has been in residence since July 12 and apparently has settled right in.

If you don’t know Commentator, you have visited this website in error. He was the game and incredibly talented New York-bred that not only dominated his peers but a prolific open company winner, as well.

A two-time New York-Bred Horse of the Year in 2007, 2008; he also won Saratoga’s storied Grade 1 Whitney.

Twice!

He attempted to three-peat in 2009 but finished third and subsequently was retired.

For the curious, yes, Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm is the same outfit that exists in Georgetown, Kentucky, but they have a satellite farm here in upstate New York.

Befitting a millionaire, Commentator is here and he enjoys company. Besides, doesn’t everyone come to Saratoga for the racing season? Not a bad way to spend a dark Tuesday. Stop by; check him out.

The Bobby Frankel Division of Old Friends is located at 483 Sand Hill Road, approximately nine miles from Downtown.

* * *

Now, if you have a good day at the races, or even if you don’t, and are in town next weekend, July 27 – July 29, there’s a terrific Antiques, Art & Jewelry Show at the Saratoga City Center, 522 Broadway.

There’s a Doris Lindner sculpture to be raffle for the benefit of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

The person you want to contact there is Elinor Penna, who will be manning Booth 45.
If the name sounds familiar, Elinor is the widow of Hall of Famer Angel Penna Sr. and was one of the original--if not THE original--female sports handicappers.

There’s a small admission charge to get into the show. Ms. Penna said that if you step up to the admission booth and mention the name Broadway John Pricci, the admission fee will be reduced by $2.

Always wondered what would happen if anyone put a price on my head. Now I know: I’m worth exactly 20 Dime Supers.

***

Actually, would not have made it to the backstretch this a.m. if not for the efforts of Andrew Prestigiacomo, a member of Saratoga’s finest.

Trapped in my driveway as yet another charitable event was held--the 5K Silk & Satin Run for the benefit of Special Olympics New York Athletes--it was the Sgt. of the Traffic Safety Unit who gave me a personal escort to the corner of George St. so that I could make the right onto Nelson Ave. and proceed to the main track stable gate.

Maybe that wasn’t it at all. Maybe he took pity on the runners, 3,300 strong that came from all areas of the Capital District to participate. Quite a community, this.

Written by John Pricci

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