08/01/2007 6:40PM

From the AE List to the Winner's Circle


All's well that ends well, but Fantastic Shirl, who won the featured De La Rose Wednesday at Saratoga, would not have been permitted to start if there hadn't been a scratch from the body of the race this morning that allowed her to get in from the also-eligible list.

This sounds nutty, given that Fantastic Shirl had earned more money on the grass than any of the 13 other entrants and arguably should have been favored off stakes-placings such as her third in the G2 Jenny Wiley to major winners My Typhoon and Precious Kitten. The race conditions said "Condition eligibility preferred" and "Ties broken by total turf earnings," so how could she not crack the top 10?

Andrew Byrnes, NYRA's stakes coordinator, explained that under the "condition eligibility preferred" part of the conditions, stakes-winners get in first, even if those stakes are on the dirt or abroad. That put eight other fillies with smaller grass bankrolls in front of Fantastic Shirl. She then was bumped down to 11th (in a field limited to 10 starters) because two other non-stakes-winners, A Different Tune and Beat the Band, had won N3x allowance races while Fantastic Shirl's last victory before her string of stakes placings was in a N2x allowance.

No harm done, as Argentine dirt stakes-winner Star Prize scratched this morning, Fantastic Shirl got the last spot, and she split horses late to win impressively at 9-2. Byrnes said the racing office would revisit these eligibility conditions before next year's De La Rose.

Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
Bya: You know what happens when you assume. No, I didn't "bet Fantastic Shirl" though I think she was an overlay at $11.60. She was one of three in the De La Rose I used in my pick-fours, which crashed and burned with Ruban Bleu's victory in the finale.
Jim More than 1 year ago
As for the comment about the timing of the race via replay, technology allows the video to be shown in milliseconds. Frame by frame is shown. There are many frames in one second. They must have simply started the tape, cued it to start when the bell went off, then froze it when Lawyer Ron's nose hit the wire. Voila! There's the final time. The time has come for a running clock to be displayed for every race, posting splits at the top of the screen. ESPN did a good job on Whitney Day, but they need to stop with so many quick cuts to different cameras. Also, looks like the infield vehicle camera shots were scrapped. The time has also come for NYRA to show a split view of the head on for starts and the regular side view. Seeing the colored saddlecloths were used for the first "Win and you're in" day, it's high time the BC brass realized that colored saddlecloths are what people want on BC Day.
bya More than 1 year ago
Can we assume, by your comments, that you bet Fantastic Shirl?
oumike More than 1 year ago
Mr. Crist, Just a note to say thanks for your blog! I am an avid player who loves the summer at Saratoga, even though I reside in Fort Smith, Arkansas!! Your writing takes me there and I look forward to your opinions and antidotes, especially in this new format.
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
T Waits: I really only look at pedigree for handicapping purposes in the type of specialized situations you suggest -- first-time starters, first-time turf, and stretchouts. When someone starts telling me about the pedigree subtleties of a horse who is about to run in the same kind of race he's made his last five starts in, my eyes roll back in my head.
T. Waits More than 1 year ago
Mr. Crist, Just curious about the amount of pedigree analysis you devote to races in which it might potentially be profitable - say, a turf race featuring first-time turfers or horses still young in their grass careers; perhaps a dirt route allowing horses a chance to stretch-out for the first time - and the extent to which that analyis affects your approach to playing said race. Thanks...
AJV More than 1 year ago
Steve, Somebody, Anybody! Sorry to beat a dead horse (ouch, bad pun) but will you please explain how the heck one re-times L. Ron's Whitney Win from a videotape, or race replay, or whatever??!! What lends credibility to a replay?! In my mind I envision Mr Moss sitting with a stop watch watching Race Replay's video as it stutters through furlong after furlong! How does one recreate real time?