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.
 

Friday, July 23, 2010


Get Me Rewrite; Apprentice Wins Schuylerville


SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 23, 2010--

Dear Diary,

5:50: Co-favorite Let’s Get Fiscal was a bit fractious loading and when they sprung the latch, she joined Stopspendingmaria on the inside and Show Me The Bling outside in a display of pace hara-kiri.

As one might expect, this set the table for a late runner, who turned out to be Le Mi Geaux. Hello Rick Dutrow. And hello Freddie Lenclud, the talented apprentice who caught the eye during the Churchill Downs spring meet.

Pronounced Lon-Clue, the young Frenchman, who’s shown a knack for riding the turf course, made use of that type of patient riding style to run the leaders down late with a well timed late run from far back.

After ridiculous fractions over the tiring wet track, it took more than 27 seconds to negotiate the final quarter-mile from well back. Apprentices cannot claim a weight allowance in stakes, so Lenclud beat them all on the square. Good for him.

Meanwhile, despite the glacial finish, “Maria” deserves marks for going head to head throughout while on the fence and still be around at the finish. Given two enervating efforts in close order, she likely will be some time off now.

Paging Joe Tanenbaum, former public relations director at Gulfstream Park under the Donn family’s reign: Not counting past performance handouts but including nominations lists, the overnight for Monday, and various releases, I counted 13 pieces of paper that I must read at home tonight.

Of course, I did have two cigarettes and went to the men’s room once, so I might have missed something. We’ll keep an eye on developments, but I think I would have to take the under for the balance of the 40-day meet. The only serious threat is likely to be Labor Day, when the curtain descends for another year.

Meanwhile, need to remember to put Stopspendingmaria in my stable mail. Soon as I finish reading those releases.

3:10: Update on the tote board situation; the problem was the association’s trying to “expand its functionality,” i.e., show “will pays,” etc. It turned out to be a little too much for the little tote board that couldn’t.

So, the word is that they’re going to scrap that plan and increase the size of the betting numbers, the straight odds, and the money totals in the straight pools. If that helps, we’re all for it.

Of course, NYRA could order up another 39 days of rainy, overcast days. Those numbers shine like beacons in the dark.

Will not make another wager today. I tried the first event to see if I were walking around lucky; no good. Cut the play in half on race two; nada. So we’ll see how the rail horse, You And I Forever, fares from the pole position in the overnight James Marvin.

Not that I would expect him to beat true Grade 1 performer Vineyard Haven, fastest than fast, gamer than game, and a true horse for course. But the idea is to see if the going is truly deeper and a hindrance during the first part of the 7-furlong sprint.

And they didn’t, Vineyard Haven winning by open lengths as Half Metal Jacket made the last run to secure the place.

If it’s not too terrible, might take a chance with the fast Stopspendingmaria in the featured Schuylerville. If you’ve not nothing better to do, stay tuned.

2:20: On a different level, the association redeemed itself with the announcement that the new “stewards decisions communication initiative” starting immediately and will communicated via the simulcast feed and at NYRA.com.

In short, the reasoning behind every decision made by the stewards involving a jockey’s objection or a stewards’ inquiry, whether the result stands or a horse is disqualified, will be made available to the public. This is called a very big step in the right direction.

Track was sealed and sloppy for the third as the parade of upsets continued. Bonavento set too fast an early pace, while hounded overlay Footcandles, setting the table for last run winner Bank Merger beneath Alan Garcia.

It was the third straight winner which last raced at a venue outside New York, as the winners of the first three raced last ran at Suffolk, Churchill and Monmouth Park, respectively. Not sure what that all means; just interesting is all.

1:30: Must say that the New York Racing Association can’t catch a break. This Saratoga Summer has been dry, unusually so, but not today, opening day. It’s the slow, soaking kind of rain and, at the moment, radar screens are not encouraging with respect to tomorrow.

Try as they might, all races remained on turf until the announcement came, about three minutes before Saratoga 142 kicked off, that the fourth, fifth and sixth events would be rescheduled to the main track.

But NYRA also deserves some of the criticism it gets from “purists.” And by purists we mean people who enjoy reading the tote board. They still do, of course, only they can’t see the numbers. They are tiny.

It’s as if whoever approved the new grandstand tote board was assessing the situation from 15 feet away and directly in front of the structure. We’re thinking it’s all a reuse to boost business at the binocular-rental stand. If you have a pair and are coming to the races here, don’t leave home without it.

It didn’t take long for “The Graveyard” to claim its first victim, as the favorite--a local favorite at that, Funny Cide’s people--watch their perfect tripping Seattle Mission get beat again sans excuse. Nothing that a heart transplant wouldn’t cure.

Julien Leparoux, doing what he does best, timed his late turf run perfectly aboard up setter Dontsellmyland. And Julien did it again in the second, coming from last over “good” wet turf to nail Flourish in the final strides. The Leparoux double returned $449.50.


Written by John Pricci

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