SARATOGA DIARY, DAY 2: MO MONEY, MO MONEY, MO RIVERA WAS MONEY

Happy Mariano Rivera Day, Yankee racing fans! And even if you’re a Yankees hater, how can you not admire the first ever unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer?

I was surprised by the jockey comments following Thursday’s Quick Call stating the turf course was soft. I would have expected good or yielding, but maybe that’s the way it is because it’s fresh grass and perhaps there was more rain than what was apparent on the feed. Friday’s courses are rated dirt fast; turf yielding.

Either way, like the idea that the four turf races that were re-scheduled was announced early, giving bettors time to go back into their past performances. Hope that trend continues, both in protecting the course for the long meet and making such announcements early.

FIRST RACE: Derby Memories, under heady Kendrick Carmouche, went to the front and improved his position—by double-digits at the end. Certainly looks like a repeater even on the rise, as long as dynamics are favorable. He stopped the 9-furlong timer in 1:48.92, pretty snappy. And that’s all they wrote…

SECOND: Not many anxious moments for Main Track Only, odds-on Daddy Knows. Make Motime made mid-race move on backstretch on rail under a Leparoux full-nelson, trying to save horse and improve position simultaneously. He had to steady on turn, breaking mo-mentum, then was going well at the finish after tipping out. Stable mail please. BTW, to compare, these 9 furlongs went in 1:51.

THIRD:  Conquest Hardcandy–well rated by Tyler G, who took a comfortable stalking posture throughout–assumed the lead under a pull and had plenty left, though he was driving hard at the end to maintain the winning margin. Runnerup Dream Passage enjoyed a ground saving trip.

MO MONEY, MO MONEY, MO MONEY—no, not the Spike joint, the G.O.A.T., as in GREATEST OF ALL-TIME. Mariano Rivera was honored by NYRA in ceremonies before the fourth race. Rivera, the first unanimous first-ballot inductee ever, will have his plaque erected in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, about two hours south and west of Saratoga.

Mariano and The Mig

According to master of ceremonies John Imbriale, “more men walked on the moon than scored against [Rivera] in the post season.” Considering he helped win the New York Yankees five World Championships, that’s, like, crazy, right? Thanks for the memories, Mo, or, Tony Soprano’s nephew Christopher would say: “enjoy your success.”

FOURTH: Soul P Say set the pace in 7-furlong sprint, pressed throughout, and was very good until he got very tired, very late; overall good effort. Winner Big Muddy and runnerup Orpheus both rallied wide while on the move into the stretch, ‘Muddy’ prevailing late under strong Ricardo Santana handling… Lord Simba, racing in the back of the pack, entered the stretch extremely wide, losing all chance; note.

FIFTH: Not good judgment by Luis Saez aboard runnerup Good Shabbos. Sharp on the inside down the backstretch, he correctly steadied off a lively pace, a move that looked good, and was good, as a phalanx of four battled it out across the track into the stretch. All Saez needed to do was wait for the stretch, then tip out.

Instead he asked Good Shabbos for her life around the four battlers at a loss of ground that hurt momentum and tired late due to the premature wide rally. Normally love his aggressive-position style but his anxiousness got the best of him here. Winning Vast broke her maiden on debut for Bill Mott; doesn’t happen often–nor does getting 12-1 on Mr. Mott. Bet Good Shabbos back, providing it’s not on Saturday.

SIXTH: Start of the Late Pick 5—tomorrow there will be a million-dollar bonus for a lone ticket holder; somewhere over the faux rainbow. (Good idea trying to attract more handle without having to institute a 20-Cent Jackpot concept, but how often is there a single winner of Pick Five)?

Troubled trip for Saez, this time not his fault; racing luck can be cruel. Heavy Roller had inside-speed position going into the lower first turn but would force Saez to steady for about a half mile in a 9-furlong two turner.

Meanwhile, Felix in Fabula, stalking comfortably throughout, was set down by Jose Ortiz soon after entering the stretch, proving best as mate Curlin Road was a pick-up-pieces second. Winning trainer Bruce Levine has been live the first two days of this meet.

SEVENTH: Finally, Saez finds the circle on much-best favorite Filly Dilly, a formful result when MTO Saloon Girl with Johnny followed the winner home for Wesley Ward. That’s it and that’s all.

EIGHTH:  Rosario and Saez, obviously thinking they had each other to beat on Doups Point and Dreamzapper, respectively, hooked up from the start and battled each other all the way. Meanwhile, sitting off both their hips in perfect position was Fiery Opal with Edwin Rivera.

At mid-turn, the three hooked up and all were trying and driving hard to the finish. Fiery Opal’s trip and Rivera’s tactics proved the difference as he wore down the tiring speedsters, saving just enough to hold off Irish Valor who made the last run but couldn’t get up. Not the best horses but they put on quite a show.

G3 FORBIDDEN APPLE: Junior Alvarado just might be having a New York career year. After getting debuting Vest home earlier by working his way through horses and winding up saving ground, he took advantage of his outer turf draw–which might have been the better part of the yielding ground.

After breaking sharply, Alvarado set up shop in the three path and of all the contenders—there were many—he was the only one with winning position when the field turned for home. Position and cut in the ground helped get it done. Trainer Catherine Day Phillips picked the perfect spot; Mr. Havercamp got perfect handling.

Stakes postscripts: Voodoo Song chased throughout, tiring in midstretch as if short of condition and will benefit from the effort. Qurbaan, way overbet, rallied fairly well from between horses but on balance very disappointing. March to the March, toward the inside, Hembree, over the top, finished well through deep stretch.

TENTH: Fight Night and Accabonac Harbor fought it out fetlock to fetlock with the latter prevailing from the outside. Several stride beyond the wire, ‘Harbor’ fell, unseating Javier Castellano, lucky to walk away. No word on the maiden at this posting.

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