BRATTLEBORO — A man once spent his Sunday afternoons at Hinsdale Greyhound Park, keeping his eyes on the thoroughbred tote boards on the TV monitors and occasionally looking down at his program.
"You can't beat the grays," the handicapper would often say to anyone who would listen as the horses were loaded into the starting gate.
I'm sure that I will be hearing those famous words in my mind during Opening Day at Saratoga Race Track today, when a silver filly named Platinum Spark struts her stuff in the post parade for the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes. And I will also be taking high roller Pat Trombley's advice of "ALWAYS BOX A TRIFECTA" when I put No. 1 Olive Branch and No. 4 Sweet Loretta on my ticket along with the daughter of Hansen.
If you like to roll the dice, why not try an 8-to-1 shot in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes? Tin Type Gal is a perfect 2-for-2 at the 1 1/16 distance, has a jockey and trainer that do well on the lawn, and should be fit after a needed race on June 16. I wouldn't bet the house on her, but wheeling her in the late double could at least make sure you can stop for a nice dinner on the way home.
You can play your house number, go with the names that mean something to you, rely on the jockey that you believe in, or even get advice from the tip sheets.
But the coolest thing about wagering at a track in The Empire State is the Grand Slam, which pays anyone that can pick a horse to finish in the top three in races 6-8 and also the winner of race 9. My dad is a master at these, but I realize that I have a better chance of winning the lottery. My quick pick this time is 7 (Special Risk), 1 (Anna Rae), 7 (Platinum Spark) and 11 (Tin Type Gal).
Good luck! Below are today's entries at Saratoga:
Race 1 — AOC $40,000, 1 1/8 miles: 1. Clifton Pleasure (Franco), 2. Yakov (Ferrer), 3. More Zen Tea (Leparoux), 4. Jet Black (J. Ortiz), 5. Thirst for Glory (Rosario), 6. Beyond the Green (Alvarado), 7. Battle of Evermore (Castellano), 8. Sinistra (I. Ortiz Jr.).
Race 2 — Maiden $73,000, 5 1/2 furlongs: 1. Ribbonite (D. Davis), 2. Tizza Temper (L. Saez), 3. Icy Girl (Lezcano), 4. Messer Misfit (Carmouche), 5. Bree's Got Heart (Rivera), 6. With Wings (Cancel), 7. Seattle Ice Queen (J. Ortiz), 8. Cha Cha Heels (I. Ortiz Jr.), 9. Bliss to You (Arroyo). 5. John Eddie (Torres), 6. Roll Ride Roll (I. Ortiz Jr.), 7. Chubby Master (L. Saez), 8. Dettifoss (Luzzi).
Race 3 — Claiming $25,000, 6 1/2 furlongs: 1. Match Up (Leparoux), 2. Chipit (Velazquez), 3. In R Defence (Arroyo), 4. Dynamo Flotilla (Lezcano), 5.
Race 4 — AOC $80,000, 1 1/16 miles on mellon turf: 1. Distorted Beauty (Carmouche), 2. Sentiero Italia (Rosario), 3. Tapitry (J. Ortiz), 4. Tela (Velazquez), 5. Darling Sky (Rivera), 6. Isabelle (Alvarado), 7. Selenite (Castellano), 8. My Cara Mia (Franco).
Race 5 — Claiming $40,000, 1 mile on inner turf: 1. Elementsofharmony (Rosario), 2. Sense of Beauty (Velazquez), 3. Pussy Willow (Lezcano), 4. Fly Ash (L. Saez), 5. Siralen (Geroux), 6. Marnesia Big Girl (J. Ortiz), 7. Cosmopolitan Girl (Bravo), 8. Scarlet Goddess (Santana Jr.), 9. Nile Princess (Torres), 10. Candida (Castellano), 11. Night Madam (Leparoux), 12. Annie Rocks (I. Ortiz Jr.), 13. First Embrace (D. Davis), 14. Forever Plus (Franco), 15. Reckless Humor (I Ortiz Jr.), 16. Game Girl (J. Ortiz).
Race 6 — $83,000 Maiden, 5 1/2 furlongs: 1. My Sweet Stella (Santana Jr.), 2. Sunday Gravy (Castellano), 3. Seam (Velazquez), 4. La Coronel (Leparoux), 5. Bowie (Geroux), 6. Torrent (J. Ortiz), 7. Special Risk (I. Ortiz Jr.), 8. She's Had Enough (Luzzi), 9. Jumby Bay (Velazquez).
Race 7 — $85,000 Allowance, 6 furlongs: 1. Anna Rae (J. Ortiz), 2. Takrees (Alvarado), 3. Laxfield Road (Garcia), 4. Delicate Lady (Castellano), 5. Apologynotaccepted (Velazquez), 6. Bileaps and Bounds (Carmouche), 7. True Romance (Franco).
Race 8 — Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes, 6 furlongs: 1. Olive Branch (J. Ortiz), 2. Inspired Flight (Prado), 3. Lightning Dove (Rosario), 4. Sweet Loretta (Velazquez), 5. Made Me Shiver (I. Ortiz Jr.), 6. Summer Sally (Bravo), 7. Platinum Spark (Franco), 8. Fun (Alvarado), 9. Harlands Thunder (Geroux).
Race 9 — Grade 2 Lake George Stakes, 1 1/16 on mellon turf: 1. Thundering Sky (G. Saez), 2. Elysea's World (Castellano(, 3. Diamond Fields (Alvarado), 4. Enjoy Yourself (Santana Jr.), 5. Ancient Secret (I. Ortiz Jr.), 6. Sky My Sky (Leparoux), 7. Flora Dora (Esquivel), 8. Baciami Piccola (Rosario), 9. Outsider Art (Franco), 10. Try Your Luck (Velazquez), 11. Tin Type Gal (J. Ortiz), 12. Gone Away (Geroux).
Race 10 — Maiden Claiming $40,000, 1 1/16 on inner turf: 1. Silver Romeo (Bravo), 2. Arch Contender (Franco), 3. Liscullaun (Alvarado), 4. Liam's Prince (L. Saez), 5. Market Strength (I. Ortiz Jr.), 6. Come Around (J. Ortiz), 7. Brotherly (Geroux), 8. Snowfly (Carmouche), 9. Big Platinum (Leparoux), 10. Moegan Avenue (Lezcano), 11. He's One Wild Dude (Rosario), 12. Dark Gemini (G. Saez), 13. Archangel Rose (L. Saez), 14. Gandono (Velazquez), 15. Sunshine Sperry (I. Ortiz Jr.), 16. Paschal (Franco).