JC / Railbird

Saratoga Saturday

By the numbers …

5: The number of gawkers visiting First Samurai’s stall this morning, including ESPN commentator Randy Moss and noted equine surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage. The two-year-old, a gorgeous chestnut that draws a crowd daily to watch him gallop and bathe, won his last two races by a combined 11 1/2 lengths and will start in the Hopeful next Saturday. The colt breezed four furlongs in :47.46 on Friday morning, a time jockey Jerry Bailey, aboard for the work, attributes to there being a couple of horses ahead of him. “He had a target for half the work and it made him work a little bit better,” said Bailey (Daily Racing Form). What the DRF article doesn’t mention is that one of the horses was Lost in the Fog, who went head-to-head with First Samurai.

4: The number of reporters following owner Ken Ramsey around Oklahoma after the break. Now I know why so many racing articles have so many of the same quotes.

1: The number of unclaimed picnic tables remaining behind the grandstand as of 9:30. And it’s not even a giveaway day.

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A quick return: Provincetown, who ran second to Dave in last Sunday’s West Point Handicap, returns today in the $65,000 Troy.

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Arrivals: Island Sand, winner of last month’s Delaware Handicap, arrived in Saratoga yesterday afternoon for Friday’s Personal Ensign Stakes. She could face tough competition in the form of Go For Wand winner Ashado, also nominated to the race.

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Dave Litfin determines that Saratoga is the “Graveyard of Value“:

In 2004, 739 horses ran in 93 dirt races, an average field of 7.95. On turf, 285 runners competed in 30 races, an average of 9.50.

This year, in 72 dirt races, 520 horses have run, an average of 7.22. On the turf, 405 runners have competed in 46 races, for an average field of 8.80.

Field size in dirt races is down an average of .73 horses per race, a staggering decline of nearly 10 percent from a year ago. Turf fields are off by almost as much, at .70 horses per race.

Not only are the fields smaller, but favorites have won 42% of the races. (DRF)