SATURDAY RECAP: When scratches were posted around 11:15 a.m. ET, Mr. Ed knew he was in for a long afternoon. After all changes of surfaces, my daily play was more than halved from $134 to $56. Sometimes the bets you don’t make turn out to be the best. With his recent record, Mr. Ed will take what he can get. I did end up cashing a $10 Place ticket ($21.50 return as it paid $4.30 to Place) in Race 9, when Best Bet #4 Runaway Rumor ran second … Those who had a better day included leading rider Luis Saez and law firm trainers Pletcher & Brown with three scores each … The average Win bet returned $10.30, and the $1 Pick 6 paid a modest $321.50.
IRAD INDEX: Irad Ortiz Jr. continued his mediocre riding streak, winning with one of five mounts … His starts-wins record, after four days of tracking here, is 22-4 with a net loss of $22.40 if wagering $2 on each of his mounts. Perhaps a day away at Woodbine will help revive his uninspired efforts of late.
SUNDAY AT THE SPA: Talk about throwing gasoline on the fire. The last thing soggy Saratoga needs is a Category 1 hurricane taking aim at Upstate New York. Just in case you haven’t noticed, Mr. Ed has been struggling to find his groove on dry tracks, let alone wet ones. So, in making today’s picks he has taken the distinct probability of more rain into his selection process. If, by any chance the wet conditions fail to materialize, then good luck folks, you are on your own.
DAILY DOUBLE (Races Nos. 1-2, 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT)
Mr. Ed likes #5 Four Dawn (4-1 morning line) for Brad Cox with Luis Saez & #4 Penny Saver (8-5) for Kenny McPeek with Jose Ortiz. Wager: Ice-cold $6 Daily Double on 5 & 4. ($6)
PRICE PLAY (Race No. 4, 2:49 p.m. ET/11:49 a.m. PT)
Trainer Chris Englehart spots his horses well -- and #3 Khali Magic (12-1 morning line) belongs here (especially if race is moved to main oval). Leading rider Luis Saez, who continues to pull rabbits out of hats, adds the magic touch. Wager: $5 Win & Place on 3. ($10)
EXACTA EXTRA (Race No. 6, 3:55 p.m. ET/12:55 p.m. PT)
I like three maiden special gals on the drop to $75,000 tag: #2 Opening Night (7-2 morning line); #3 Shanghai Shamrock (5-2) and #4 Lady Milagro (3-1). Wager: $4 Exacta Box of 2,3,4. ($24)
BEST BET (Race No. 7, 4:29 p.m. ET/1:29 p.m. PT)
Entered for main track only, #8 Angkor (7-5 morning line) for hot trainer Phil Bauer fits here like a glove. Tyler Gaffalione, who had a couple of wins Saturday, rides. Mr. Ed is betting on Mother Nature. Wager: $10 to Win & Place on 8. ($20)
$.50 LATE PICK 4 (Races Nos. 7-10, 4:29 p.m. ET/1:29 p.m. PT)
Race 7: 7,8
Race 8: 4,8,11,13
Race 9: 3,4,6
Race 10: 5,16 ($24)
TOTAL WAGERS: $84
HOW MR. ED MET HIS MUDDER (or when as a teen he caught the highly contagious thoroughbred racing bug): It was at Charles Town Race Course in West (by God) Virginia. My divorced mother was dating a dandy who liked to play the ponies. So when he and Mom headed for the track, I tagged along … After studying the Racing Form prior to the first race, I proclaimed, “I have the horses right here” … who will win the Daily Double. The guy gave me $2 for my bet and another deuce for his. “Get me the 1-4 double,” he instructed, without even glancing at the Form. When my horse ran up the track -- and his 1 scored at 20-1, we all got excited. When the 4 romped home at 25-1 in the second race — and the $2 ticket paid a whopping $642.80 — Mr. Ed was hooked for life. Footnote: My mother ended up marrying the guy.
COMING WEDNESDAY: An accounting of my financial condition; stakes (including The Travers) previews; and the first of Mr. Ed’s Saratoga on (about) $100 a Day for the week. Until then, stay dry.