DAY #3 RECAP: The Grade 1 Diana was won by #8 Althiqa ($9.90) with Manny Franco up … The betting public, cashing tons of tickets, is right more than wrong (so far) with average win on Saturday returning $8.40 … Steve Asmussen picked up two more scores (#9 Chattalot in Race 5, #1 Beau Liam in Race 8), putting him within 16 of becoming all-time winning trainer … Jockeys Jose & Irad Ortiz, Jose Lecano, Manny Franco (late Daily Double score) and Ricardo Santana all had two winners … Races 3-5 $1 Pick 3 of 9/9/9 returned $221 … On the other hand, the 1/1 Daily Double in races 8-9 paid 5.30! … As for Mr. Ed, I had chalky late Pick 4 ($55), cutting loss for day to $39.
Mr. Ed’s SARATOGA ON (about) $100 A DAY
Day #4 - Sunday, July 18
BEST BET (Race No. 2, 1:41 p.m. ET/10:41 a.m. PT)
Manny Franco rides class-dropping #2 Charleston Strong (7-2 morning line) for Jeremiah Englehart, who adds blinkers and distance. Wager: $10 Win & Place on #2. ($20)
EXACTA EXTRA (Race No. 5, 3:21 p.m. ET/12:21 p.m. PT)
Four-horse play in tough maiden sprint. Wager: $2 exacta box with 1,2,4 & 8. ($24)
PRICE PLAY (Race No. 6, 3:55 p.m. ET/12:55 p.m. PT)
Added distance key for consistent #6 Matta (8-1 morning line). Johnny Velasquez returns for respected barn. Wager $5 Win & Place on #6. ($10)
PICK 4 (Race Nos. 7-10, 4:29 p.m. ET/1:29 p.m. PT)
Race 7: 1,2,9
Race 8: 3,8
Race 9: 2,3,4,5,8,10
Race 10: 4,7,10
Wager: $0.50 = $54 ($54)
TOTAL WAGERS: $108
SETTING THE SCENE: One of the things I love most about Saratoga is there isn’t a bad seat in the house, or outside for that matter. From the high-class, clubhouse-turn private suites to the classy trackside restaurant, to grandstand reserved seating, to 800 “backyard” first-come, first-serve picnic tables -- everyone can find their day-at-the-Spa comfort zone … In fact, visitors are welcome to bring their own food, beverages (cans only), tables, tents and chairs for drinking, eating, and relaxing on grassy areas under 150-year-old shade trees -- within view of giant TV screens and remote betting windows … All are encouraged to come early, stay late and enjoy sound of Billy Joel crooning “New York State of Mind,” if exiting after the final race.
WHY SARATOGA? Anyone who boasts they can consistently beat Saratoga at the windows, might just be delusional. The reason serious horseplayers like to bet Saratoga is that it’s so damn hard to beat Saratoga. Quality horses, the super-deep jockey colony, owners who put their money where their horses run and 18-hour-a-day trainers. Remember friends, a losing day at the Spa is better than a winning day at any other track.
JOCKEYS & TRAINERS: The Ortiz brothers, Irad Jr. & Jose, are again expected to dominate rider standings. Others to watch include Hall of Farmers Johnny Velasquez and Javier Castellano. Those looking for longer shots, consider up-and-comers Eric Cancel, Tyler Gaffalione and fan-fav Manny Franco … Before all is said and races run, our law firm of trainers (Todd) Pletcher, (Chad) Brown & (Bill) Mott might just account for half the meet victories. But, I’ll be keeping a close eye on Steve Asmussen, Jeremiah Englehart, Danny Gargan, Brad Cox, Kelly Breen and Al Stall, too.
FOR FANS: New $1 Pick 6, not Mr. Ed’s way to wager, appears to be off to a solid start … Saturdays feature $300 buy-in, on-track handicapping contests (been there, won that) … The 40-day meet will treat horseplayers to 76 stakes races worth $21.5 million in purse money, highlighted by the Travers for top 3-year-olds on Saturday, Aug. 28 … Several maiden claiming contests offer $100,000 in prize money. It’s not Charles Town, folks … Season closes on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6.
LOOKING AHEAD: Racing and Mr. Ed return Wednesday after a two-day break. The mid-week card begins with the day’s only stakes contest -- unfortunately a grassy marathon for steeplechasers. A good time to catch a cup of hardy Manhattan clam chowder and study Race 2 past performances … Believe Mr. Ed, the first few weeks at Saratoga can quietly drain one’s bankroll. If you’re committed to the full 40 days of horseplaying, now is not the time to go for a lifetime score. Watch more, wager less until you find your confidence level. Stay calm, be patient and enjoy the finest racing available anywhere.