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.
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Daring Dancer: Poetry in Graham Motion


SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 23, 2014—Have to give a lot of credit to trainer Graham Motion and jockey Alan Garcia for turning around the fortunes of Daring Dancer in today’s Grade 2 Lake George.

Motion, winning the Grade 2 for 3-year-old fillies going a mile and a sixteenth on turf for the third time, didn’t let her completely flat performance downstate deter him from making another run in the Diana, but she rebounded in a manner that underscored her first two grass victories in which showed lots of promise.

With Garcia sitting ice cold saving ground throughout behind a moderate pace, he cut the corner beautifully with the filly, tipped her outside gradually, got her in high gear approaching the sixteenth pole and relentlessly bore down to catch A Little Bit Sassy, who had better position throughout and got the jump on the winner.

With Garcia switching to his left hand for the final hundred yards, the filly surged to win by a head, a surprising margin since no one was sure who even won the race until the judges posted it on the result board in a bang-bang photo finish.

“I honestly think it was the soft ground [when she finished fifth in the Wonder Again last time out],” said Motion post-race. “She was a different horse today. From the beginning she was right in the bridle. Alan gave her a beautiful ride.”

“Somebody had to win and I’m glad I won that race,” Garcia said. “I was looking for a hole but I decided to move outside. She [won] it spectacularly.”

That she did.

Bueno Senor Grandison: A nice promotion to start the day as Spanish language-radio race caller Luis Granderson got to call the second race in his native tongue live over the track’s closed-circuit system.

Fans appeared to enjoy the Spanish Heritage Day festivities as part of International Heritage series, listening to the race call in Spanish. Granderson is from Panama and has been calling races since 1978.

Horseplayers in South America are enjoying his race calls via local simulcast venues there.

A formful beginning for the up-and-over set as Rudyard K and Selection Sunday finished 1-2 as the favorites in today’s opening steeplechase event at 2-1/16 miles.

There will be ‘chasing every Wednesday and Thursday with first post set at 12:25 p.m. Flat racing begins with the second race each day at 1 p.m.

Juvenile maiden fillies completed the early double with Expressive Rumor, blocky-sprint-meant body and all, came on with perfect-trip handling beneath Rosie Napravnik, her first Spa winner, to nail the overbet Overspending, who held well for place. The runnerup was very quick early and won’t be a maiden long; note.

Napravnik will ride likely Haskell favorite, 3-year-old filly Untapable, in Sunday’s $1 million Haskell at the Jersey Shore. Steve Asmussen trained today’s second-race winner and will tighten the girth at Monmouth Park, in a deep and contentious renewal of the Grade 1 event.

Got Lucky got a great ride from Johnny, looking very much like his mentor, Pa Pa Cordero, as he brought his filly inside to eyeball rallying Madaket Millie then back out to see late finishing Unbridledexplosion, who hung late from her 6-path rally but definitely should benefit from the effort; bet back in the right spot.

Girlaboutown was much the best in the fifth, looking very much like a future repeater and Quit Smokin was going well on the outside in late stretch in a useful effort; note.

Artemis Argotera needed a confidence builder following a disappointing try in her season’s debut and got one. With a devastating two-move-on-the-lead 10-1/4 length win after being shadowed down the backstretch early, winning eased up by Jose Ortiz in the final strides.

She made all the running in 1:22.20, after posting splits of 22.78, 45.22 and 109.11 for the 7 furlongs. She’s ready for bigger game.

Through a Diary Notebook: The meet got off to a fast start over the opening four-day weekend and one surprise was the unexpectedly good per capita from Sunday’s baseball cap giveaway crowd as 26,000 fans bet $3.8 million on-track.

The crowd probably was not that large due to the spinner phenomenon which occurs when fans pay multiple admissions. The NYRA said spinners would not be counted more than once but I don’t know how they can stop fans from entering the grounds more than once…

Opening Saturday Sanford-winning Big Trouble showed a big kick late. He has plenty of scope for development and trainer Tony Dutrow promises that he will take his time with this one who will not be Breeders’ Cup bound…The runners-up, Mr. Z and Cinco Charlie were very good in defeat…

Somali Lemonade certainly is a new filly at 5 after adding blinkers and given her head early in her races, benefiting from a perfect trip, but it was Stephanie’s Kitten who might have been best with a wide, flying finish off extremely slow fractions…

Stopchargingmaria is a Grade 1 winner now and with time between races she has become an absolute tigress. She might not want any part of Untapable but then one never knows. That‘s the fun part of watching young horses develop….

Frankie Dettori certainly brought a special brand of excitement to the Spa opening weekend, proving popular with the crowd, trainers not named Wesley Ward--his sponsor for the weekend with a glut of live mounts—and his brilliant race riding that was surprisingly, refreshingly aggressive. There are reports that he might come back later in the meet…maybe the airlines won’t lose his luggage and tack this time.

Trainer David Cannizzo completed the rarest of racetrack triples over the weekend, saddling two winners on Saturday and getting married on Sunday. But no honeymoon yet, not with races to be won at Saratoga…

Insiders are whispering that full knee replacement likely will force Gary Stevens back into the TV analyst chair. I’ll invoke the Frank Whiteley rule on that one: Whiteley, when asked about a horse that was coming to the end of his career, he said “don’t count a horse out until it’s dead at least 24 hours.”

Just shocking and sad news, the sudden death of horse owner Dan Borislow who suffered a heart attack while playing in a pickup soccer game. Borislow, who campaigned the good horse Toccet, was the wily bettor who jumped into the Rainbow Pick 6 pool on the Sunday before a mandatory giveaway and walked off with $6.6 million. Easily the worst example of good news-bad news ever…

Written by John Pricci

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