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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, July 12, 2023 – How can this be a column entitled Saratoga Diary with a Hallandale Beach deadline? Easily, with a top of the cap, or the flip of a finger, to what is euphemistically known as the Golden Years.

The issues are teeth that are longer than they used to be, the ones that remain, as we squirrel away resources for rainy days sure to come, even without the reality of climate change and increasingly extreme weather events, even without inflation rates recently lowered to 2%.

Unfortunately, the greed factor remains alive and well in Saratoga Springs. Given the nearly eight-week duration of the Saratoga racing season, rentals are fewer and farther in between, jump-starting already high prices, renters using a supply-and-demand cudgel for cover.

In short, we have feelers out and will make the sojourn if the racing gods permit. If not, we’re considering two savers: a bucket-list trip to Kentucky Downs for a long weekend shortly after Labor Day, with forays into Nashville 35 miles away, or a road trip to Charleston for a brief but real vacation. It’s been decades.

Meanwhile, we open the pages of our old Saratoga Diary, as we’ve done each year since 1977. There are, as they say, many duplicators, but this is an OG original, with pre- and post-race analysis and commentary when the spirit moves and the schedule allows.

Our fervent wish is to supply video-trip notes on the Spa feature daily for each entrant, fleshing out an analysis we’ve supplied Albany’s WNYT, an NBC owned-and-operated station, for more than three decades. A labor of love is the term most apt to describe this exercise; it’s been an honor.

Listed in post order, then, the opening day feature:

DAY 1     Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes              Juvenile Fillies            6 Furlongs

  1. Carmelina (5-1) Parx shipper was quick into stride after a slightly hesitant break, hand ridden confidently into stretch, winning in full stride. Scopey individual won handily. Major player
  • Becky’s Joker (15-1) Scaled down Gary Contessa operation debuts Practical Joker filly in a stakes and coming off a rapid blowout. Can’t imagine Contessa would put himself into a position to be embarrassed.
  • Union Suit (20-1) Following a barn change to Graham Motion, was second in Belmont’s Astoria comfortably set the pace while being hounded, going handily throughout, and clearly was second best.
  • Status Seeker (12-1) showed speed tracking the speed from between horses, a good educational experience, and was driving hard for the win beneath Rosario.
  • Saratoga Secret (4-1) was on a hard chase throughout, dueled in midstretch, won driving by 3 as clearly best, long, full stride at finish with Saez. Sharp in half-mile breeze before leaving KY.
  • Closing Act (10-1) long on experience, winner of the Astoria, curious morning line. Stalked 4-wide backstretch, asked to challenge 3 across turn moving well midturn. Driving inside, greenly, choppy action.
  • Wine On Tap (5-2) very fast from gate, took back to stalk leaders, driving 3-path, best! Added distance should suit!
  • Kiss for Luck (30-1) mate of Carmelina, won debut at 4-5, could not find video of race anywhere despite replays for all other races. Curious!
  • Dancing Diana (6-1) ridden away from gate showing good speed, pressed hard head-to-head inside on turn, changed leads efficiently, driven out, clearly best, interesting future?
  • Mila Junes (30-1) ridden out to stalk the pace throughout, driven out 4-path stretch in sealed wet, confident handling late stretch.
  • Sugar Treat  (6-1) bumped break on rail Tapeta track, checked out while in closer entering turn, angled out on move 4-wide entering, driven out confidently. Much the best!

The Skinny: These fillies may or may not win championships but this is one of the deepest Schuylervilles in recent memory. Predicted rain storms are the fly in the ointment, precluding confidence. Dancing Diana is the lean, bias dependent., at 9-2 or greater. Most worrisome are, in graded order, Saratoga Secret, Wine On Tap and Carmelina.

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8 Responses

  1. I will refrain from offering daily Saratoga selections this year. In 2022, I proved that a measured, consistent approach to wagering at the Saratoga meet could limit losses to a mere minus 29 percent. A result easily rationalized on Labor Day evening as a reasonable 8 week entertainment expense.

    Good Luck to all !

    1. Hey Dan,

      There is nothing more entertaining in racing than handicapping this most challenging meet. I will add patience is the virtue vis a vis success, let the meeting come to you. One down, 39 days to go… Enjoy!

  2. “Dan M”, One of the best quotes and evaluations ever offered at HRI is “a reasonable 8 week entertainment expense.” Just wanted to FYI all readers that AMWAGER is currently offering a $150 deposit match on all new accounts. That is one way, at least for me and my pitching wedge wager approach, that I will negate much, if not all of my expense at the Saratoga Meet. If I get a few house chips, I will turn aggressive, but with my own money, I plan on perusing David Arrogona’s daily Timeform selections and John Pricci’s daily FRA narratives for most all my guideance. I plan to also check on the HRI comments boards as well as the various internet free past performance lines, and then step up to the line for a few daily “free throws” in the north country this July and August. “All expenses paid” if you will. Sweet Deal is my read. – Peace my friends and safe journey to all this summer. To Dan M from Den M, let’s tear them up this season. Riders Up!

    1. McD, thanks for the heads up re: AMWAGER, $150 new deposit match. Enjoy the Spa McD, your loyalty is appreciated as always. Have a great meet!

  3. Well, I’ll be damned! Just checked the leader board in money won and Asmussen, Pletcher, and Brown are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th having been supplanted by Cox who is usually 4th or 5th. But, there are six months of racing to go, so the monopoly on purses won will no doubt continue with the three laughing all the way to the bank.

  4. The Old Irish in me reverts back to the verse that there are but three things to have in plenty in life: Wisdom, Generosity, and Sunshine. “Taking the high road up the Northway” said Sam I. Am. Only Sunshine in the skies today, even if we happen to get rain. Just greatful for the present that the present is. Riders Up!

    P.S. John, Your B & C travel plans just might be a better value and option. I would go with the roads less taken my friend. Better value to be had with the alternates.

    P.S. When you ref Mark Jackson as your best analysis. What sport or sports? Also is there any internet access to your daily Capitol Region Saratoga commentary?

    1. McD, taking your travel advice for me under advisement. It makes more sense, but I love Saratoga, so we’ll see how it all shakes out.

      Mark Jackson was All City at Loughlin, honorable mention All American at SJU, and currently a featured analyst of NBA telecasts. The man’s got game!

      As for our work on WNYT in Albany, it will be repeated here throughout the meet. We only analyze the feature races and opine on major storylines, much as we do here at HRI.

  5. WMC, The 1% will always be the ones to beat in any endeavor. Larger bankrolls rule whether it be bettors or trainers… Good luck at Parx; will be checking it out on Pa Derby Day come September…

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