Spa Midway Report Card

We’re a bit more than halfway through the 2010 Saratoga meet with 22 of 40 days in the books.  Now’s a good time to look back at some of the best of what we’ve seen and also the worst.  Here are my thoughts:

BEST

Trainer – Even if he goes winless over the next 18 days (and that’s unlikely) the 2010 meet will be one Chad Brown always remembers.  His 12 wins at the young meet, including 6 with first time starters, is an incredibly impressive mark and considering he only has one win in an allowance/optional claimer, you can bet his horses have plenty of conditions left. Of course, I’d be remiss in not mentioning trainer Todd Pletcher, who’s currently atop the standings, but he was expected to be there.  He is a heavy favorite to re-claim the title he did not win in 2007, 2008 or 2009.

Jockey – John Velazquez has benefited from his relationship with Pletcher as he’s picked up 15 wins for his barn alone.  Javier Castellano gets the honor as best jockey thus far as he’s been successful for a rather diverse portfolio of clients at this meet, including Chad Brown and mainstays like George Weaver.  This meet has continued a renaissance in Castellano’s career as he struggled through much of 2009 before putting together a very strong Gulfstream meet earlier this year.

2YO – It might have taken until today to see the best 2YO of the meet as Kantharos was very impressive winning the Saratoga Special over a slow track.  Other impressive 2YOs we’ve seen include Wine Police, who broke his maiden at first asking on the 2nd day of the meet.  Among the fillies, it’s tough to look past Position Limit, who won the Adirondack impressively on Sunday.  Other impressive maiden winners include Skylord (colt), who scored at first asking for trainer Todd Pletcher and is a half to stakes winning turfer Sky Cape and Maple Forest (filly), another Pletcher trainee who broke her maiden on the same afternoon as Skylord.

3YO – This remains to be seen but as of right now, the top dog in this category is A Little Warm.  With Lookin at Lucky skipping the Travers, Winslow Homer sidelined, and Trappe Shot lacking a bit of the luster he had leading into the Haskell, you have to stick with the Jim Dandy winner, who has now won two route races in a row for trainer Tony Dutrow.  It’s a tenuous lead that he holds in this category and the Travers is shaping up a formidable test.  In terms of 3YO sprinters, there’s no doubt that Discreetly Mine has moved to the head of this class.  He scored a smashing victory in the Amsterdam and was so impressive that the connections of Tahitian Warrior and Trappe Shot have all but opted out of facing him in the King’s Bishop.

OLDER FEMALE – This category is incomplete given that the Personal Ensign won’t take place until August 29.  Sure, Malibu Prayer is the best older female we’ve seen at the meet but she’s not even the best distaffer in the Todd Pletcher barn.  This award will almost certainly go to whomever wins the aforementioned Personal Ensign.

OLDER MALE – Perhaps trainer Al Stall could have asked Eddie Murphy to show up at Saratoga on August 7th and use his famous line from 48 Hours, proclaiming “There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Blame.”  To the surprise of many, Blame knocked off Quality Road in the Whitney and, at least temporarily, put himself at the top of the handicap division.  Don’t fret Quality Road fans, the Whitney was Blame’s time to shine and he still has an opportunity to get back in the mix in the Woodward on September 4.

TURF – The beat kept on going for Proviso in the Diana as she put together her 3rd consecutive Grade I score on the grass.  It remains to be seen where Proviso fits into the Breeders’ Cup mix as I’m among those that think 1 3/8 miles is roughly a 1/4 mile more than she likes.  No matter where she lands, she’ll be a tough customer.  Among the males Get Stormy rambled home a convincing winner in the Fourstardave as he subjugated his rivals with a frontrunning score.  He will be seen again at this meet in the Bernard Baruch, where he will once again be considered a heavy favorite.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Jockey – Jose Lezcano.  After a solid Belmont spring-summer meet many (including me for the 2nd year in a row) expected Lezcano to have a breakthrough Saratoga meet.  It has been anything but as he has only four winners through the first 22 programs.  The most disconcerting thing about that stat is that he’s ridden only one winner for Chad Brown, who has all but discarded Lezcano at this meet.

Trainer – He’s a professional and one of the game’s greats, but Nick Zito is having a meet he’d like to soon forget.  He’s 0-23 and has had basically nothing go his way, from Fly Down’s defeat in the Jim Dandy to two drop down maiden claimers getting beaten handily on Monday afternoon.  I’m certain Zito will break out of his slump soon but right now it seems endless.

Horses – It’s tough to get classified as a disappointment when you lose a prestigious Grade I by a head but Quality Road barreled into Saratoga ready to stamp himself the leading older male in the game and Blame ruined his fun.  He is slated to return in the Woodward and restore some of the lost luster and let’s hope he does.

Here’s some of what we have to look forward to over the next 7 days:

August 19 – 100k guaranteed Pick 6.  Four lucky fans on-track can win a place on the Serling Syndicate.  Click here for details.

August 20 – Fabulous Fillies Day at Saratoga with fundraising activities for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

August 21 – The $500,000 TVG/Betfair Alabama (G1) and $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4; Beginning of the 2010 Travers Festival

August 22 – The $150,000 Lake Placid (G2) featuring the best 3YO filly grasser in the country, Brereton Jones’ Check the Label

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4 Responses to “Spa Midway Report Card”

  1. Travis Says:

    I seem to remember Zito going on a skid at the Spa not too long ago… the game ebbs and flows for sure.

    • nicktammaro Says:

      Over the last five years Nick Zito is 29-290 at Saratoga (10%) with an ROI of $0.95. These numbers are not meant to pile on Zito having a tough meet this year but to illustrate that there isn’t a tougher place to win year in and year out than at the Spa.

  2. bob Says:

    Hate to say it but good guy nick is one over-rated trainor. His success in the classics overlook a very medicore record. He is death to the small bettor in that you can never tell when his horses are going to be awful. And I mean awful, i have witnessed some of his horses look good or competitive on paper and not run a step at short odds. Then he will put over a bomb that you wouldn’t bet even after the race. No rhyme or reason why his horses run or don’t run.

  3. emma Says:

    JOSE LEZCANO NEEDS A NEW AGENT. NO REFLECTION ON THE PRESENT FELLOW~~~~~~~~~~A .FRESH FACE WILL DO HIM A WORLD OF GOOD. THERE IS AN A#1 GUY OUT THERE RIGHT NOW. TAKE A SHOT JOSE, YOU’LL BE REWARDED, BELIEVE ME.

    THERE IS NO—-DUPLICATE TO THIS COMMENT OUT THERE MODERATOR
    .

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