Empire 6 Debuts, Saratoga Sale Ends, Frankie Keeps Winning, Capping a Nice Week

August 7, 2019

We’ll take a quick look back at last week in the Sport of Kings as the new Empire 6 begins at NYRA racetracks.

The old $2 pick 6 had essentially become a bet of the past with the rare exception of big carryover days. There were many contributing factors to the once popular wagers demise. The $2 limit. The 20 cent jackpot pick 6 alternatives. 50 cent pick 4 and pick 5 options. Shrinking pools. It was only a matter of time until NYRA bought in on the jackpot 6 craze and introduced their version. The Empire 6 NYRA bet will have a 20% takeout and the whole pool goes to a single ticket winner only with the exception of mandatory payout days.

The Saratoga Sale, a yearly tradition at the Spa, especially for those seeking a dream with more than a dollar concluded powerfully thanks primarily to an appetite for colts sired by Curlin who had the 1.5 million sale topper.The Saratoga Sale soared to record heights for average and median when it concluded Aug. 6.

Kingly, sent out by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, withstood the late challenge of Neptune’s Storm to win the La Jolla Handicap (Grade 3Turf) at Del Mar and pick up his first graded stakes win in the process.

After skipping the first leg of the New York Racing Association’s new Turf Trinity series, A Thread of Blue was back in top form and took them wire to wire in the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes at 13-1.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had this to say:

“Just like it looked it could work out on paper. An uncontested lead is big, and he’s a very talented horse. He likes it firm, obviously, winning three in Florida. He doesn’t like to ship that well, but he ran great at Churchill. The Penn Mile just didn’t go well. We gave him a little more time going into this, but he’s been training unbelievable and it just worked out great.”

McKinzie moved to the top of the older handicap horse rankings with a decisive win in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert who was taking down stakes on both coasts this past weekend had this to say about McKinzie:

“He got a proper grade 1 race, as they say in England. The plan was to get the Met Mile, and maybe this. At least we got one of them. He showed us what he could do. Mike Smith rode him with a lot of confidence. He’s got him figured out now. Mike realized you can just sit there and put him anywhere. He’s got a kick. Usually, our horses, like Justify or American Pharoah, get out there and go. He’s not that kind of horse. It’s better when you don’t have to worry about speed in the race. You can just place him. And he’s quick enough to get out of trouble.”

Fools Gold took the $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya Stakes (G3T) for fillies and mares at Saratoga. Trainer Chad Brown had this to say:

“The River Memories was the final piece of work she needed to handle a mile and a half, especially at Saratoga” 

Fox Hill Farm’s Omaha Beach turned in a bullet five-furlong work Aug. 4 at Del Mar  as the 3-year-old colt continued preparations toward his first race back after throat surgery. Mike Smith returned to California fresh from his Whitney to work the colt for Richard Mandella.

Mr. Money under Gabriel Saez took the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer.

Covfefe sat a little off the pace in a thrilling Test (Grade 1) at Saratoga to out-game Serengeti Empress.

Concrete Rose handled all comers in the Saratoga Oaks, the filly counterpart of the Saratoga Derby.

At Deauville Frankie Dettori kept his unbelievable run of Group 1’s going with Advertise in the Larc Prix Maurice de Gheest. Frankie now has 12 Group 1’s for the season and it is not over yet. He had this to say about Advertise:

“I was able to slot in behind Pretty Pollyanna, and at the two-furlong marker I had to take a pull because he idles a little bit when he gets to the front. When I saw the others coming at the 300 (meter mark), I had to kick and he showed a good turn of foot. He was just idling a bit, but when he felt Brando coming, he took off again. I was alone for a long while, so that was a danger because I was there to be shot at. But he came here in tremendous form, and he’s a tough horse. He doesn’t know how to run a bad race.”

Too Darned Hot has been retired after the three-time group 1 winner suffered an injury to his right-hind cannon during his recent success in the Qatar Sussex Stakes (Group1) at Glorious Goodwood last week.

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