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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Diary Day 6: A.W.O.L

July 26, 2012--Regrettably detained by family health issues, but will return today.

That doesn't mean I didn't see Teen Pauline's debut. One race proves nothing, but I could not help but think while watching the replay that she has more potential at this stage than her predecessor, My Miss Aurelia. Stay tuned on this one.

Don't forget; twilight card today, or whatever the hell it's called.

July 25, 2012—What are the odds that when you get in your car to go to the track on a Sunday morning, your relatively new battery would be dead? Could probably get a good price on that one considering it’s July, not January.

And what are the odds that there would be a medical emergency at home requiring your immediate attention, compelling you to pack up and leave the course in the middle of the program? Also pretty high I suspect.

When you live on Union Avenue, getting home, without a car is a 10 minute walk in the heat with a weighty computer bag on your shoulder--and there was more in the bag than “just” a computer.

What are the odds that when you take a short cut through the Reading Room gates, they’d be padlocked, so you walk back to where you first turned in and immediately hear: “Hey mister, you can walk through now.”

So you make the pedestrian U-Turn, wait for the light on the corner of Union and Nelson, cross the street walk two flights up, put the key in the lock, turn on the TV set and watch in mocked horror as four of the five horses you used to begin the late Pick 4 sequence combine for a $2 Superfecta worth $14,578?

Computing the odds on that is a snap: Somewhere in the vicinity of 1-9.

Bets N’ Pieces: When is the national anthem not a national anthem? When the sound is inaudible, that’s when.

Interesting that in an effort to right the economic ship, a decision was made to fire audio engineer Bill Wennington, who had the expertise to coordinate all things audio for more than two decades at NYRA but had the impudence to be a union member. Another victory by the ruling class over the working class…

What do you mean you can’t distinguish much of the horses or jockeys racing on dirt at Saratoga’s far turn? You wanted a wider, turf course with bigger fields, didn’t you? The outside fence on the Mellon Course had to be moved farther out, right? Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it…or not.

What’s wrong with an $85,000 purse for optional $20,000 claiming/non-winners of 1 allowance horses? No wonder there are more $50,000 claimers masquerading as 20-claimers these days. You say there’s better use for that money, such as bolstering other, higher class levels? More takeover ammo for the state…

Since he took over as director of racing surfaces three years ago, Glen Kozak has not received one critical review of which I’m aware, and that includes during that horrible state of breakdowns at Aqueduct this past winter.

As a player, there seemingly are much fewer biased dirt surfaces than there were under his predecessor, John Passero. But I would like to make a suggestion, if that’s alright with everyone.

Just would to say that it’s OK to water the turf courses when they get hard and biased like they were this past weekend. What nature doesn’t provide, the track maintenance department should, yes?. That makes it fairer for everyone; horsemen and horseplayers alike…

If it was meant as a publicity stunt, it’s a good one. Association of Racing Commissioners International Ed Martin is asking the Olympic Games to release the names of athletes performing in with performing-enhancing drugs.

Olympic athletes are allowed to the World Anti-Doping Agency for permission to receive Olympic athletes to compete with a variety of performance-enhancing substances by obtaining what’s called a therapeutic use exemption. That’s not legally possible in horse racing, the use of Lasix notwithstanding.

Martin wants to know why mainstream media doesn’t get bent out of shape about that, along with its policy of non-disclosure. Critics of Martin have called him a media opportunist, but if that’s the case here, it’s OK by me.

Aside from the notion that animals can’t talk, why is this practice allowed to continue? I’m an anti-Lasix proponent on raceday, but at least racing’s public know which horses are getting that “exemption.”

Why shouldn’t horse owners be allowed to ask for this kind of exemption, asks Martin? When it comes to performance-enhancers, what makes the Olympics so special that the media gives them a pass? National “pride?”

It was great to see the soon to see future Hall of Fame inductee Johnny Velazquez back on the job today. And it’s not so much that he failed to win with either of his two mounts. But his trip in the G2 Lake George was absolutely scary.

We know this filly will run inside [see Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf]. But he was in tight the length of the stretch, in a rather precarious spot. He ducked and dodged looking for holes that never really materialized while the issue was still in doubt.

By the time he shook clear, the three fillies that finished ahead of her took advantage of easier trips. This is not to disparage those fillies but Stephanie’s Kitten never really had a clear run. And, at this point, it was good to see Johnny return in one piece. Wow!

Sprint Takes: Ramon Dominguez, even before Sunday’s six-pack, was riding like a jockey possessed, or at least one looking for his 18th NYRA meet riding title… The Todd Pletcher-trained Hobbs, winner of today’s sixth race, was only his second of the meet, the other being a first-time starter. An aberration, or a trend?... Didn’t take long for Rosie to get the first Saratoga graded stakes victory, did it?

The impressive thing is that she never gave up on Bern Identity when that juvenile was outrun for the early Sanford lead. Neither did the colt; good job by both… New York Bred Lunar Victory was a revelation, was he not? What are the odds that Bill Mott and Juddmonte will continue keeping him in restricted company? Maybe not 1-9, but very short, indeed.

Written by John Pricci

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