- Last Updated: 3:04 AM, July 21, 2012
- Posted: 12:56 AM, July 21, 2012
Another one bites the dust. Joining Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner I’ll Have Another in the breeding shed, Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags — originally sidelined for the year with a suspensory injury that was diagnosed earlier this month — has been retired to stud, it was announced Friday, less than a year after the son of Dixie Union scored his first stakes win in the Saratoga Special.
l Now that New York State owns the racetracks and effectively has taken over NYRA, whom do we complain to — Gov. Andrew Cuomo? Speaker Sheldon Silver? — when, on opening day at Saratoga, the water pressure is out in much of the plant, including the grandstand and jockeys’ room, the TV and sound systems are bollixed up, and the highly touted free public Wi-Fi system doesn’t work?
“We appreciate [the fans] patience with opening day complications,” NYRA president Ellen McClain said. “We will be working through the night to resolve these matters.”
With 39 days to go, there is a tight four-way race for the riding title. Rosie Napravnik, Joel Rosario, Javier Castellano and Ramon Dominguez each had a pair of winners.
FIRST RACE: As usual, more interesting stuff happens in one race at the Old Spa that happens in five races downstate. Going 1 1/16 miles over the inner course, 10-1 Artest and 7-1 Followmyfootsteps dueled for the early lead around the clubhouse turn to the backside, when for some odd reason, 2-1 Yankee Fortune rushed up the rail to engage them under Rajiv Maragh. When Followmyfootsteps scooted clear again in the far turn, Yankee Fortune swung outside to go after him, but had nothing left.
Followmyfootsteps, Ramon Dominguez up, continued to lead to deep stretch, when he was run down late by Jim “007” Bond’s Nine O Wonderful, whose previous running line — a rallying, half-length score on the Belmont turf under Rosie Napravnik at 13-1 — almost exactly mirrors the one for this race.
Salto, 5-2 making his first start for Todd Pletcher since Nov. 3, lost all chance when he was checked hard by Javier Castellano rallying in behind horses in mid-stretch.
SECOND RACE: We often have noted that Junior Alvarado excels with front-runners on turf, and here he took Dominic Schettino’s Alwaysinmycircle — a universal “good thing” bet down to 5-2 favoritism after finishing fourth last out at 38-1 — gate to wire over the Mellon course.
THIRD RACE: Who says the New England Patriots can’t beat New York? Joel Rosario shook loose on the lead with 9-5 Lignite — a 2-year-old filly owned in part by the Pats’ wide receiver Wes Welker — and never looked back, holding off a determined late run by Kimono, favored at 8-5 in her first start for Todd Pletcher.
FOURTH RACE: Early money was the smart money. Book Review opened at 2-5, drifted to 4-5, while Ullapool, after breaking through the gate at the start, was hammered from 3-1 to 2-1 in the last flash. Ullapool set the pace, chased by Book Review, who came under stiff urging from Javier Castellano turning for home while Ullapool was under a snug hold from Jose Lezcano. At that point, Ullapool looked like death and taxes, but Book Review, under Castellano’s aggressive handling, wore her down and eased clear late.
FIFTH RACE: In the top performance of the meet so far, the 2-year-old filly Kauai Katie, a $490,000 purchase by Stonestreet Farm favored at 9-5 in her debut for Todd Pletcher, gunned to the front under Rosie Napravnik, shrugged off a bid from Lenderoflastresort turning for home, then kicked clear down the lane to romp by 12 lengths in 1:03.66 for the 5½ furlongs, as compared with Lignite’s final time in the second race of 1:05.02.
SIXTH RACE: Bombs away! Going 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon course, Roy Lerman’s 20G claimer Presumptive, dismissed at 36-1 in his first start since winning on turf at Tampa Bay on April 27 at 2-1, came on late to win a photo under Irad Ortiz Jr.
14 consolation (5 of 6)
Each paid $1,436
Carryover: $60,316Follow @NYPostsports