HANDICAP RECAP: Saturday results add up to a mixed bag. On the negative side, the Bros. Ortiz continued to avoid the winner’s circle, posting only a single score between them with Jose winning Race No 3. Older brother Irad was shut out … On the positive side, Steve Asmussen became the winningest trainer of all time when #7 Silver Tap captured Race No. 5, recording win No. 9,446 for the esteemed conditioner. Jockey Luis Saez (34 wins) picked up three more victories to extend his lead over Jose (25) and Irad (25) Ortiz. Michael Maker (16) continues to lead over Chad Brown (12) in the trainer standings … The icing on Saturday’s cake was #4 Knicks Go ($4.10) domination of the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes by more than a half-dozen lengths. While Mr. Ed had the winner, he was 0-4 on his other selections … The average win ticket returned a healthy $14.70 and the $1 Pick 6 paid $12,515.
SUNDAY AT SARATOGA: The 10-race card, featuring the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational (Race No. 9) kicks off at 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT. Here are Mr. Ed’s top selections:
BEST BET (Race No. 3, 2:15 p.m. ET/11:15 a.m. PT)
Mr. Ed once had a boss whose name was Payne. While I considered her a real pain, co-workers insisted she knew how to run communications. Nonetheless, I took every opportunity to say no to Payne. I could call this strictly a hunch play, but trainer Ray Handal and jockey Joel Rosario are both having a fine meet — and #6 No Payne (5-2 morning line) is on the cusp of breaking her maiden. No Payne, gain. Wager: $10 Win & Place on 6. ($20)
PRICE PLAY (Race No. 5, 3:21 p.m. ET/12:21 p.m. PT)
Chad Summers sends out #8 Distractandattack (9-2 morning line), who hopefully gets firm turf on which to sprint. Overdue Irad Ortiz Jr. retains mount. Gelding ready to attack winner’s circle. Wager: $10 Win & Place on 8. ($20)
$0.50 LATE PICK 4 (Races Nos. 7-10, 4:29 p.m. ET/1:29 p.m. PT)
Race 7: 3,7
Race 8: 2,5,7,8
Race 9: 4,5,6,7
Race 10: 1,3,5 ($48)
EXACTA EXTRA (Race No. 9, 5:39 p.m. ET, 2:39 p.m. PT)
Mr. Ed hears that Irish invader #6 Rocky Sky (3-1 morning line) has been impressing folks in morning works over Oklahoma turf training course. Distance suits filly for Chad Brown and Irad Ortiz Jr. Sky’s the limit. Wager: $4 Exacta Box 6 w/ 4,5,7. ($24)
TOTAL WAGERS: $112
UNDERESTIMATING YOUNGSTERS: When I first came to the Spa in 1981, I couldn’t understand all the fuss about 2-year-old colts, and occasional geldings, making their first career start. “I’d rather bet on mules or wiener dogs than waste my time on any maidens,” I told my mentor. “They are green, generally run slowly and have no previous form from which to handicap. No thank you,” I concluded … Over the past four decades I’ve come to appreciate 2-year-old maiden races, which are now among my favorites. Today’s promising youngsters are often next year’s Triple Crown contenders. So, don’t dismiss the chance to catch them while they’re young. When you see one you like, bet on him, follow his development. Who knows? He might be next year’s Kentucky Derby champion.
SLEEPLESS IN SARATOGA: It has come to Mr. Ed’s attention that contrary to his earlier discourse on the “average” cost of a day in Saratoga Springs, there are other, far less extravagant ways to enjoy a day near the nation’s finest racing venue. For instance, room at an Albany Airport motel, 30 miles from town ($107 tax); fast-food-breakfast sandwich ($2 with coupon); parking on Lake Avenue (about) a mile from track (free, but obey posted signs, the fine alone could break your bankroll); Grandstand admission ($7); hamburger & fries lunch at backstretch grill ($4.25, no tip); iced coffee at donut stand ($3.40); wagering (about $100); bottle of water from kids hawking just outside track ($1); two slices of pizza downtown, off Broadway ($3.80 for dinner); spending night in your car, or like Mr. Ed once did, in a stable (free). Total cost: (about $150). Not my idea of 24 hours in Saratoga Springs, but to each his own.