07/19/2008 1:40PM

95 Hours and Counting


--Things to do while waiting for NYRA to finish drawing the opening-day card at Saratoga, which should be up later today:

1. Play a little Del Mar.

I jumped in last night with one of those Friday night pick-4's that doesn't start until 9 p.m. eastern time. Turned out there were a couple of excellent betting opportunities, though I managed to make the least of them.

The first opportunity was in the first leg, where Let'spickupthepace was a textbook bet-against at 9-10 making his fourth career start in a $100k maiden claimer. The gelded $17k yearling purchase had tired and lost ground through the stretch in his three defeats, earning subpar figures each time, but was being bet like a cinch because he was dropping into a maiden claimer from a try in the G3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship, where he was outrun early and late and finished 7th.

The tv commentators kept saying how good Azul Leon, the HJC winner is, but my impression of that race was totally different. I thought the HJC drew a very substandard field, borne out by Azul Leon's winning Beyer Speed Figure of just 79 despite winning by four lengths, the second lowest winning fig since 1991 in a race that on average is run 10 points faster.

At 9-10, it was worth betting against the theory that the 7th-place finisher in that race had to be a good horse. The four first-time starters in the field were deader than doornails on the board, but there was money for two second-time starters who had shown little in their debuts but were both 5-1 here. I pitcted the fave, made those two second-timers my A's, and got off to a good start when Fu Peg He Rat ($13.00) scored by a length. The second leg looked like a mismatch, with Let Us Prey, who was close in several graded stakes in Europe as a 2-year-old, making his stateside debut in a scratched-down field where the next fastest horse on paper was a 1-for-24 statebred. Despite some traffic and a very slow pace, Let Us Prey ($4.60) rallied from last to run by the field in deep stretch.

That left me 3x4 into the last two legs but I didn't survive the CTBA Stakes, running 2-3-4 behind second choice Streaming Heat, which proved highly unfortunate when the bomber in my last-race quartet, Kilmartin Hall at $34.20, hung on by a nose to complete a $2326-for-$1 pick-4. Kilmartin Hall was one of my pet angles, a 7f-to-6f turnback for a longshot who ran a winning race to the eighth pole in his previous start before fading (and earning a deceptively low figure.) If you projected a figure for Kilmartin Hall's first six furlongs (where he was "beaten" just half a length) in his last start, it was more like a 70 than the 57 he received for his five-length defeat, and a 70 put him right in the thick of this.

At least I played the nightcap separately after being knocked out of the pick-4 but did so pretty poorly, playing supers keying Kilmartin Hall first and second but emphasizing the combos that also required favored Downtown Lover to hit the board, which he failed to do fading from 2nd to 5th in the final 50 yards after chasing the winner. So for a $90 investment, I ended up with 20 cents of the $4359 super, deftly turning 16-1 into 8-1.

2. Play today's East Coast graded stakes at Belmont and Colonial Downs.

Problem is, I don't see any smart-alecky 16-1 shots in the entries for the G1 CCA Oaks at Belmont or the G2 Virginia Oaks and G2 Virginia Derby at Colonial.

The CCA Oaks has just four betting interests including the formidable Godolphin entry of Mother Goose winner Music Note and Ashland winner Little Belle. Longshots Never Retreat and Flaming Slew look completely out of it, so the only alternative to the entry is second choice Acoma (Empire Maker-Aurora), who sports the field's highest Beyer with a 99 winning the Dogwood last time out. She's no huge bargain at 2-1, stretching out from 8 to 10 furlongs after running down sprinters in the Dogwood, but might be worth a look if her price creeps up. Music Note has looked awfully good winning her last three starts by a combined 18 lengths, but her daylight Mother Goose victory was a bit deceptive because of all the trouble Proud Spell suffered in the race.

At Colonial, Gio Ponti and Sailor's Cap are 7-5 and 8-5 respectively on the Virginia Derby ML and it's hard to imagine anyone else in the winners' circle. I could make small cases for Old Man Buck second off the layoff and El Sultry Sun outrunning his 10-1 odds, but only small ones.

The Virginia Oaks is a little more promising because I Lost My Choo looks like a vulnerable favorite at 9-5 off a race where she was life and death to beat statebreds at 3-5 in an overnight stakes at Belmont. She has better efforts in the past but Cherokee Queen at 5-1, a head from being unbeaten in three starts, may have more upside and offer better value at 5-1.

3. Run out to Belmont for the CCA Oaks.

A basement transformer fire this morning forced the evacuation of the track until 11:15 a.m. and all customers have been herded into the clubhouse while the grandstand remains closed for repairs. Belmont (and its baked-to-a-crisp turf course) looks more than ready for the 47 days of freshening awaiting it when it closes after tomorrow's (mandatory pick-six payout) card until Sept. 5.

Okay, I've convinced myself: Off to Belmont it is.

PS--Here's a longshot worth rooting for.

Dacid Packman More than 1 year ago
Steve, I wish to send you a copy of the CD MAESTRO, a tribute to Angel Cordreo Jr. Please provide a mailing address. Thanks, David Packman, Proprietor, Pirates Bounty
Indian Blessing More than 1 year ago
Steve: While your take on Kilmartin Hall was correct, I am guessing that before you bet the race you did note that her trainer Paul Schiewe was 0-23 in 2008 going into the race. I presume the factors you cited somehow "trumped" the fact that her trainer had such a low %. IB
Flipper Dawson More than 1 year ago
Zarpo--lots of excitement at Midtown Mall today. A guy hit a 20 cent super and won 26 grand. Paid for drinks for everyone. Morning line was: 10-1 12-1 12-1 and 8-1 Enjoy your trip to Saratoga.
Steven_Crist More than 1 year ago
prozac_jack, According to Dmr officials, there WAS a live ticket to the late-scratched #10, which scratched into the post-time favorite, who was one of the horses in the dead heat.
Tim More than 1 year ago
How can anyone possibly say Wed's card at Saratoga is disappointing when Spooky Mulder is running in the 10th? Show the 10 year old some respect, geez. Hes one of the VERY FEW bright spots we still have left. With all the cheating trainers, polytrack, unlikeable owners, inconsistent stewards and drugs, we need to really celebrate our stars like Spooky. Go Spooky!
Dunque More than 1 year ago
I realize that this is intended to be an open comment board for any reader. I realize the on-line spirit is unedited and free-wheeling. I don't think I'm alone, however, in saying that the continual postings by [some]...are making what had been a healthy source of give and take, quite frankly, a pain in the ass...It's making the page almost unreadable. I know others share the same opinions I do. They've posted on it in earlier comments. I invite them to do so again. Let's keep this thing from sinking into Dawson's Creek.
OffTrackBath More than 1 year ago
Flipper, While you might not have to sign any tax forms on scores in Canada you are signing over most of your paycheck/income to the government anyway. You really can't brag all that much with those income tax rates, and sales tax, in Canada. Enough Already!
RocEnite More than 1 year ago
Coaching Club Oaks Wow nice exacta paying 25.20 on 2.00 bet.Based on 2.00 bet 6.00 covered the field with the #1 entry on top. I cannot remember the will pays on the others but I played it well.No way was the entry going to lose.It felt like I was getting free money. All this Hialeah talk makes me yearn for a Bowie comeback.(just kidding) Unitas are you from the MD area??I used to go to the tracks there with my dad back in the seventies. There is one horse who always sticks out in my mind a fillie named Queen of ST.Marys if i remember right.This horse won alot of money for my Dad (betting). I think the reason I remember is because we got a buschel of crabs afterwards.It was also the first time i put more than 2$ in a race.I put a 5 spot on her.I think i got back around 21$ but to a kid that was big money. The last time i was up MD way was about 12 years ago and went to Laurel and in a maiden race for fillies was a st.marys horse, saw who the dam was (QOSM) and made a nice score that day. Well heres to a great Saratoga meet.I am going to make a few days up there just do not know when.I am leaving atl monday and heading north.Got a a stop or two to make before i get there. Roc
Flipper Dawson More than 1 year ago
20 cent superfecta delivers at Woodbine in Toronto--pays grand total of $26,000.00!!!!! Today at Woodbine, in Race 5, the clouds opened up to the tune of 26 grand in Oshawa. Yes, I wish it was me, but a lone male bought the house drinks after his win. This was a real head scratcher, as it was a 2 year old MSW for fillies, and mostly, this sort of a race is full of faves when the smoke clears. Plus, the top 3 were firsters, so go figure. So, it appears that the 20 cent super is here to stay. The total cost was $9.00, to snare this windfall. I tried, but could not find out if it was a quick-pick wager. Sunday wagers will be here around 12 noon on Sunday.
Prozac Jack More than 1 year ago
Steve, How did the payoff of the pick-6 at Del-Mar go from 713,000 to a lousy $ 350,000? I realize there was a dead heat but there where NO live tickets to Improvising Gal,there where also NO live tickets to the "late scratch" So who got that money...And they talk about the TAKE...