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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.
 

Friday, August 31, 2012


NYRA’s Auto Pilot, Sophomoric State Rule, Fails Again


August 30, 2012—How much of a hit did the state’s coffers take today because, parimutuelly speaking, someone was asleep at the switch?

Check that, this is the new NYRA, where the game’s on automatic pilot: No one was asleep at the switch prior to today’s featured Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes; there was no one AT the switch, or didn’t know where the switch was.

Very likely, the switch-thrower was halfway down the Thruway on their way back to Belmont Park.

There was no superfecta wagering available on the Grade 2 for juveniles, a 10-horse field. Why? Because of the asinine state rule prohibiting superfecta wagering on races containing coupled entries.

You know, as if horseplayers can’t count to five.

The thing is that when superfectas are lost due to insufficient entrants or a preponderance of races with couplings, the mutuels department generally adds a superfecta here and there, in stakes races and even in some smaller fields.

There were three stable couplings in the With Anticipation. However, two were entered Main Track Only and the other a very late scratch, which is permitted in stakes up until 45 minutes to post time. Sonofasamurai, the #2B, was that very late scratch.

Resultantly, there were 10 entrants with no couplings, and a superfecta could have been added, even under the silly rule, but wasn’t.

In the previous race, the 10-horse Equalize Stakes, there was no Super wagering because of a stable coupling. The race was won by Miami Cat, which many believed was the weaker half of the entry. It’s just such a waste.

But it will all get better soon. Just you wait and see.

Sophomore Class Takes Another Hit

The 3-year-old division took another hit this morning when it trainer Chad Brown announced that Street Life, who was vanned off after finishing last in the Travers, had been retired.

The winner of his Curlin Stakes Travers prep in his penultimate start, his stakes season began with a win in the Broad Brush Stakes at Aqueduct last winter.

But it wasn’t until he finished third in the G2 Peter Pan that he gave some indication he was coming into his own and become a serious race horse.

And now he’s gone, off to the breeding shed following the lead of last year’s juvenile champion, Hansen, and the winners of all of 2012 Triple Crown events, Belmont winning Union Rags and Derby and Preakness hero, I’ll Have Another.

Finally, after waiting several days for the soreness to calm down, it was determined that indeed he had ruptured a ligament in his left front pastern.

“[The injury] is not unprecedented but it’s new to me,” said Brown, “I’d never had that happen before.” And having studied at Cornell before apprenticing with Shug McGaughey and Bobby Frankel, he should know a thing or two about equine anatomy.

“To not only lose the race but lose the horse for his career, a horse that I felt had a tremendous amount of potential and could have gone on to accomplish great things, is harder to take.”

Amen to that, for it was his Curlin victory that indicated he might have broken through. Even though he added blinkers for the Peter Pan and wore them while finishing an interested fourth in the Belmont, it wasn’t until the Curlin that he demonstrated the kind of acceleration that separates a good horse from a very good horse.

And now we’ll never know. At least his contemporaries had a chance to show what they had at the highest levels. It’s its fashion that makes it even worse.

Gets Those Winter Book Bets Down Early

But not to worry; we’ve seen the future, “the fastest horse in the world.” Now let’s see what Archwarrior, who debuted in today’s third race, can do when he meets seasoned winners.

Lest anyone get the wrong impression, “the fastest horse…” is a little cheeky, but he was impressive and his next start will be anticipated with great interest.

Having missed the post parade, we picked up the binoculars with about four minutes to post and the juvenile colts were on the backside.

Through the looking glass, he was what you’d expect; four legs a mane and a tale.

On a serious note, he appeared to be a bit short-coupled and built a tad downhill, not quite but reminiscent of a sprinter type.

But for a colt who worked in :10 2/5 at the Ocala breeze-up sale, and reportedly outworked last year’s Travers winner before today’s debut, he rated kindly down the backside, content to follow the very speedy second-starter, Transparent.

Approaching the quarter-pole, Johnny Velazquez asked the Todd Pletcher trained son of Arch, from the Seeking The Gold mare, Winner’s Edge, to engage the leader in earnest.

He went about his business, as the racetrackers say, drawing out to break maiden in 1:10.03 by 3-1/4 lengths over a strong finishing fast-working newcomer, Malachite: As to the running time, the fast track was no speed highway.

“I worked him behind horses,” said Velazquez, “so it’s not he’s been on the lead in the mornings. I knew I could rate him. He’s not very quick away from the gate.

“He’s not going to win by 10 or 12 lengths,” the newest Hall of Famer continued. “He’s just kind of steady. He should run all day long.”

And, as for his next start? “We’ll play it by ear and see how he comes out of this,” his trainer said.

Written by John Pricci

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