Clocking The Pick-6

by John Piesen

Of course the national focus at Saratoga is on the weekend – notably the Travers on Saturday, and Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign on Sunday. But first there is the matter of a two-day Pick Six carryover into Wednesday’s nine-race program to the tune of $210,428!

The fact there is a two-day carryover comes as something of a surprise inasmuch as seven of the nine races on Monday produced single-digit winners, and four of the six winners in the Pick Six paid less than $9.

Even Daily Racing Form was caught by surprise, with nary a mention of the carryover in its Wednesday editions. But thanks to Mine Over Matter, who circled from last over a speed-biased track to win the fifth on Monday as the $39.60 rank outsider, management and the players get an unexpected pre-Travers gift.

MOM was yet another sobering experience for jockey Desormeaux. The Hall of Famer, Although a remote sixth in the Spa standings, has at least three times been the point man in a big Spa story: 1) Lisa’s Booby Trap; 2) Admiral Alex, and 3) Mine Over Matter. KD has only three calls in Wednesday’s Pick Six, but two are live – Drink of the Day in race six, and Sudden War in race seven.

Other than race eight -- the five-horse Albany Stakes headed by the odds-on Ibboyee from Pletcher-Velazquez -- the races in the Pick Six sequence all have large, competitive fields of maidens and/or claimers.

But here’s the kicker. All five are scheduled for the turf! Chances are we won’t know until late Wednesday morning which races will be run on the green, and which won’t.

After steady rain Sunday and Mondays, scattered showers remain in the forecast through Thursday before the skies clear in time for the big weekend action. It is worth noting that John Piesen Racing (888 612 2283) went 2-for-3 on Monday -- (Karen’s Joy, $6.50; Meese Rocks, $8.80) – so the JPS will be taking some momentum in Wednesday’s program.

That said, let’s take a look, starting with race four at 2:40 p.m. (Eastern).

After hitting the board in three maiden-specials, Peb Hughes is dropped into a $75,000 maiden-claimer by trainer Motion, who is a mere 1-for-19 at the meet. This is one of eight mounts for Ramon Dominguez, who needs to catch fire if he’s going to knock off a 10th straight NYRA title. With two weeks left, he stands third with 31 winners, compared to 38 for Johnny V, and 37 for Castellano.

Last Saturday, RD went to Arlington to ride three grade-stakes chalks -- Perfect Shower and Ave for trainer Attfield in the Stars and Stripes and Beverly D., and multi-champion Gio Ponti for Clement in the Million. All lost…with dubious trips. But Ramon bounced back with five Spa winners on Sunday and Monday.

The main threats to Peb Hughes may be a pair of Kitten’s Joy firsters -- Pervis, to be ridden by Castellano for the sizzling Chad Brown Stable (35-13-5-3), and Santo Gato (Mena). Trainer McPeek has to be a force with something named Iwannaiwannaiwanna, a remote second in his Ellis Park debut, Gets Lasix and Leparoux.

The lovely Linda was one-two in Sunday’s first race, and is looking to double-dip again with Tidal Slam (Garcia) and Doast (Dominguez). But a mile may be a tad long for Linda, who has moved into second in the Spa standings with 15 winners. The Toddster is long gone with 23.

Lunar Puzzle (Maragh) rates a look off his two-back placing at Monmouth for trainer Ryan. Millennium Jet is 1-for-28, but has been right there in his last five starts. Smooth Transition, the lone MTO, obviously is a factor for Flying Zee if the race comes off.

Chances are the winner of this 2-year-old filly race will be one of the seven firsters. Of the seven, the fastest worker is the aforementioned Drink of the Day, who posted a bullet :47 1/5 for trainer Mott last week over the Belmont training track. Drumette, Rochitta and Silent Joy also are flashing speed in the a.m.

Orangeblackandgold had a wide trip in her Chicago debut for Proctor. If the race comes off, Mott may scratch and go with MTO Deja Blu, who has some fancy pedigree. The other MTOs are firsters Indian Lilly and Five Mach Speed, a 360K yearling purchase by Live Oak, who gave us Sultry Song.

Grass or dirt, Moon Town, a winner of three straight for McPeek with huge numbers, will be tough with Leparoux despite the 10-hole. But we beg the question: Why is Desormeaux riding uncoupled stablemate Sudden War rather than Moon Town? Dubai Rainbow was a fast-closing third in the Jaipur, and does his best work with jockey Hill. Lime Rickey was beaten a mere two lengths in the John’s Call, and Pleasant Strike is multiple graded stakes-placed for the Toddster.

Best race of the day if it stays on the weeds. If not, we’ll see wholesale scratches, and conceivably one or more of the four MTOs will run wild.

Ibboyee, a four-time graded stakes-winner of 600K, has banked more money than his five rivals combined in the $100,000 Albany Stakes for 3-year-old state-breds. Didn’t we say the same thing last Friday about Blind Luck in the Alabama?

Ibboyee will be odds-on (and a universal single) for the Toddster and Johnny V…but so were Quality Road in the Whitney, and Devil May Care in the Alabama? Stormy’s Majesty obviously was over his head in the Jim Dandy. Prado sticks. Johannesburg Smile held well for third to Ibboyee in the New York Derby. Goes back to Castellano.

Pletch is sittin’ pretty in the finale with a Tabor firster named Excited, and Mayday Maria, a closing second in her debut. Mott counters with a pair of well-bred firsters, Miss Alabama and Wear Red. He also has lone MTO Empress of Gold, a well-bet fourth first out. Praviana broke slowly from the one-hole in her first start.

Good luck in the Pick Six, and a reminder that my picks will be available here online at John Piesen Racing.

To close, two other items caught my attention last weekend:

1) At Monmouth Park on Sunday, the first two finishers in race seven were (you won’t believe this) Mywifenoseeverything and Thewifedoesn’tknow. The exacta, combining the 2-1 favorite and the 6-1 fourth choice in the field of nine quarter-claimers, came back $29.40.

2) When Blind Luck and Havre de Grace finished 1-2 in the Alabama, it marked the second big-time Spa stake this summer in which the first two finishers exited a one-two finish at Delaware Park.

A Little Warm and Miner’s Reserve ran one-two in an allowance at DelPark, and then repeated that finish in the Jim Dandy. Then Blind Luck and Havre de Grace came off a one-two finish in the Delaware Oaks.

Good to see Rick Porter, who gave us Rockport Harbor, Hard Spun, Round Pond, and Eight Belles, back In action with Havre de Grace, a really nice filly who is headed for the Cotillion on Oct. 2 at Philadelphia Park.

Thanks for tuning in. Please check back Friday for a look at the Travers and the rest of the weekend action.



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