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Sep 03, 2010


By: John Piesen


So much for those Hollywood screenplays. So much for those million dollar offers. Lisa’s Booby Trap came to earth with a crashing thud late Thursday afternoon when she finished dead last as the even-money favorite in the second division of the Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga.

Hell, even money was a bargain. First flash she was 1-2!

Lisa broke well, and raced fourth of 10 down the backstretch behind 4-1 second-choice Queen of the Creek. But when jockey Desormeaux asked Lisa leaving the half-mile pole, there was no response.

The rags-to-riches 3-year-old filly, who had won her first four starts by a combined 42 lengths to become America’s four-legged, one-eyed cover girl, dropped back to finish dead last, beaten 15 lengths by the wire-to-wire Queen of the Creek.

Moreover, an Italian filly named Marseria, bought by Team Valor for big bucks after winning her first two starts in Italy by a combined 10 lengths, like Lisa, never ran a lick, and finished next to last.

Unfortunately there was no exacta available for last and next-to-last comblning the two fillies who entered the race a combined 6-for-6.

But the amazing aspect to the proceedings was that the crowd of 9,000-plus forgave and cheered Lisa -- and owner/trainer Snyder -- as she returned to be unsaddled. They say you see something every day that you never saw before at a racetrack, but I never saw that.

Snyder, looking spiffy in suit and tie, as expected blamed the grass for Lisa’s poor performance, even though prior to the race, he raved at how she was handling the turf in her training. Maybe he was second-guessing himself for not taking the millions, but maybe not. He didn’t say.

Snyder did say that he would put Lisa on the next van to the Finger Lakes area, and drop her off at his sister-in-law’s farm for presumably a little R&R. Perhaps we will hear again from Lisa. Perhaps not. But, whatever happens, it was fun while it lasted. A lot more fun than watching odds-on Quality Road, Rachel Alexandra and Devil May Care crash and burn in Grade One stakes at the Spa this long, hot summer.

And speaking of movie classics, the next time they re-make “Nine”, they should find roles for trainer Pletcher and jockey Dominguez.

The Toddster and Ramon, the two dominant personalities of the new century at NYRA, both have nine chances to win races on the final Saturday of the meet. It’s not unusual for RD to ride nine a day. In fact he’s riding nine virtually every day down the stretch in what seems a futile attempt to win his 10th straight New York riding title.

But nine in one day for a trainer?

We don’t see that happen very often, if ever, but Pletch is scheduled to run nine on Saturday’s 11 race-card, including Quality Road, who will be 1-5 in the Woodward, although he’s picked on the bottom in the DRF graded entries; and the uncoupled Bribon and Checklist in the Forego.

Of course, the Toddster, who has long since wrapped up his eighth Spa training title, is just warming up for Sunday, when he will run four of the eight 2-year-old fillies in the Spinaway – Stopspendingmaria, Shy Hosoya, R Heat Lightning and Valiant Passion.

Todd could have run a fifth (Summer Laugh), but didn’t want to appear piggy.

But hold on here! Doesn’t Louisiana homeboy Ralph Nicks train Valiant Passion? As I recall, Nicks was listed as the trainer in the program when VP won her Spa debut by double-digit lengths at double-digit odds?

But that was then, and this is now.

It seems that soon after Valiant Passion’s buzz debut, she was purchased – for I presume big bucks – by the good folks at Team Valor, and turned over to Pletcher. You were thinking Carlos Martin?

Perhaps Valiant Passion will give a better performance on Sunday than Marseria did on Thursday.

John Piesen has a big 3-Day Extravaganza to close Saratoga and it starts with the Late Pick-4 on Saturday! Click here for details!

Otherwise, the Saratoga strip has been playing fair since last Saturday when it was a concrete highway on the inside, and six straight winners went wire to wire.

I wouldn’t play against Quality Road on Saturday with counterfeit money, and I will look for other opportunities to release plays on the red-hot John Piesen Racing line (888 612 2283). Quality Road no doubt will be 10 cents to the dollar, and a will get a preferred stalking trip behind Arcodoro in the 57th running of the Woodward, a $750,000, nine-furlong Grade One, which a few years back, was re-located from Belmont Park to Saratoga.

Lawyer Ron holds the Woodward stakes record (1:46 3/5), which brings up the following ironic development: Lawyer Ron and Quality Road both were made horses long before Pletcher got them.

All seven horses in this year’s Woodward pack 126 pounds. If this were a handicap, Quality Road would be asked to concede from 10-to-15 pounds to his six rivals.

One of those rivals is Mine That Bird…yep, the same Mine That Bird who won the 2009 renewal of the Kentucky Derby.

Not much has gone right since for MTB. He has lost seven straight races, all Grade Ones and Grade Twos; trainer Woolley was fired, and replaced by D. Wayne Lukas, and he has been beaten an average of 10 lengths in his last three starts.

In the words of the late, great Phil Johnson…”you can’t fire the horse, so you fire the trainer, and then you fire the jockey.”

Phil was talking about Seattle Slew, but nearly a quarter-century later, they apply to Mine That Bird. First trainer Woolley was canned, and, in case you missed it, Calvin was fired, and replaced for the Woodward by jockey Maragh, who is firing at eight percent at Saratoga.

New trainer Lukas also is adding blinkers to MTB, who was getting eight pounds from Quality Road in the Whitney, when beaten a dozen lengths by QR – thus a negative eight-pound swing for the Woodward.

If the Woodward was being run at Lone Star Park near Dallas, Mythical Power would be especially dangerous since his two career stakes victories – the Lone Star Derby and Texas Mile – occurred at LSP.

Just the same, this is a long ship from Del Mar for trainer Baffert – and, as fate would have it, jockey Gomez replaces Martin Garcia – a switcheroo from the Preakness and Lookin at Lucky.

Unlike the Woodward, the Forego – a $250,000 Grade One for 3 and up at seven furlongs -- has a vulnerable favorite in Vineyard Haven, who will try a wire-job under Alan Garcia, who last weekend had a career-defining moment when he won the Personal Ensign on Persistently at $45, beating Rachel Alexandra.

As a 2-year-old, Vineyard Haven, then co-owned by Joe Torre, won the Hopeful and Champagne; the Eclipse Award, and was the winter-book favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Alas, the Sheiks gave trainer Frankel an offer he couldn’t refuse, and VH developed Into a star sprinter for Godolphin

Personally, for the Forego, I won’t be surprised if Check List pushes Vineyard Haven from the bell in a veiled attempt to help the chances of uncoupled stablemate Bribon.

Thanks for tuning in. Good luck this holiday weekend, especially with that $488,667 Pick Six carryover Friday at Del Mar; don’t stray far from JPR (888 612 2283), and we’ll see you back here Tuesday, the day after Saratoga.

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