With only six days of racing to go, a Wall Street operative named Bill Taylor heads the five public handicappers that select horses each morning for The Saratogian’s Pink Sheet. These last couple cards have proved hard for the lot. Taylor has picked but two winners from 21 and his closest competitor, a guy by the name of Daniel Feiss, could do just one better.
It hasn’t been because longshots have won. It’s that the racing’s been so competitive that several horses figure in big fields of entrants that have little to show for themselves. Handicapping, for the most part, has been trying to figure out which horse will get the trip and which have connections with intentions. Maiden runners went postward in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh races Monday. A Pick Six carryover of over $423,000 awaits horseplayers Wednesday.
Of the maidens to win, the most interesting was the 4-year-old Senor Dehere. The notable turf specialists Graham Motion and Julien Leparoux experienced satisfaction of seeing the Australian-bred gelding from a New Zealand mare swing out at the top of the stretch when he was fourth four lengths back before scampering home to win the sixth easily.
NYRA was to run the $70,000 Saratoga Dew for New York-bred fillies and mares as the feature, but it failed to gather a quorum. Although attendance for the meet’s five full weeks is down nearly five percent and handle is off almost two percent, it hasn’t been because there aren’t interests to bet on.
Away from the track, the jockeys played softball. They beat a team of media mopes 28-22 in a nine-inning game at the Rec Center. An infield with double play skills of first baseman Mike Luzzi, second baseman Javier Castellano, shortstop Alex Solis and third baseman Kent Desormeaux provided the key to the victory. Channing Hill was Babe Ruth, hitting several round trippers.
Nonetheless, the star of the game was Billy Barber, age 12, of Saratoga Springs. He won the 50-50, gave half of his winnings back to the permanently Disabled Jockey Fund for which the game was played, and still made a cool $45. PA announcer Rick Mitchell of 101.3 FM could tell you the names of the media, but was blank on the names of the winners.
Perpetrators of “Prankenstein” - a joke played on turf writer David Grening of the Daily Racing Form that went awry - are banned from the press box on Wednesday. Kyle Brownell of the Glens Falls Post Star and colleague Dave Litfin allegedly produced a fake announcement that Saratoga would race five days a week for eight weeks next year and put it on NYRA stationery.
Grening, about up to here with the length of the current meet, believed that the notice was real and blew a fuse. He’s too pooped to believe there’d be more, but he bit on it anyway.
Vic Zast is the author of the award-winning book, “The History and Art of 25 Travers.” He’s a Saratoga Springs summer resident, who lives in Chicago during the off season.