08/21/2008 4:18PM

Alabama, Genuine Risk, questions


...I have two questions, (1) you said you like the Pick 4 when there is a guaranteed pool, but is there any real value-added of a guaranteed pool if the track doesn't kick in any additional money?   I always thought a guaranteed pool was more of a marketing gimmick than anything else, i.e. a track may guarantee a $100K minimum pool but $120K is bet into it, so the track doesn't have to kick in a penny.  In such a case, is a guaranteed pool any better than a non-guaranteed pool?
Also (2) can you recap some of your recent "drop the old hammer" plays?  Not looking for amounts wagered or anything, just curious which horses you homed in on and whether the plays worked out or not. 
terry f

As for mostly playing Guaranteed Pick 4's, I find it's more psychological than practical.  I know there's going to be a big pool, and for some reason, I'm much more amped up to work on the sequence.  Plus, the Guaranted Pick 4's mostly are comprised of higher-quality stakes races, and I'm familiar with the horses.  As you guys know, ninety percent of my plays are in maiden, stakes, and high-level allowance races.  On a big day, I don't have to worry about "playing the claiming game."  Also, the marketing gimmick seems to work.  I think more money goes into "guaranteed pools" than the regular Pick 4.  A pool that usually would get 120K may get 200K, and the payoffs usually have exceeded the parlay.

We've all had circumstances where we absolutely love a horse, and can't wait to get to the track to play him.  After doing the work for a $50,000 maiden claimer at Saratoga on August 13, I loved Spina.  David Donk doesn't exactly have great numbers with first-time starters, but his runners had been live over the previous week, Spina's workouts jumped off the page, and the outside post position coupled with the low-profile breeding (by first-crop sire During) figured to deter bettors.   He was 8-1 on the morning line.  On my line, 9-2 was acceptable value.  He was 16-1 with two minutes to post.  This was a no-brainer.  I had to "drop the hammer."  No, not like Greg Valentine driving his elbow into Tito Santana's sternum.  No, not like Ivan Putski in his classic wars with Jesse "The Body Ventura."  I had to simply ignore the nagging feeling that the horse was "dead on the board," and that I had somehow missed something.  One of the worst mistakes a horseplayer can make is to be too afraid to play a longshot. 
I loaded up on Spina to Win, he won easily, and I felt like a genius.  Of course, there have been times when I've been wrong, have dropped a bundle, and am seen walking around the track muttering to myself like a Creedmore reject. 


Was there talk of a race together? Was it simply the case that Native Dancer was injured (last race 8/22) before an eventual meeting? If so, why didn't ND's connections take on Tom Fool earlier, like at the Saratoga meet?

Here's what Evan Shipman wrote in his "Review of 1953 Races" in the 1954 American Racing Manual:

"Occasionally in an early season race such as the Suburban Handicap, a venturesome three-year-old will engage his elders.  Such forays have been rarely successful, and caution suggests that late summer or early fall is the soonest that colts can afford to meet horses in the handicap division on anything like equal terms..."

"...Native Dancer, for his part, could hardly have been tempted by the Suburban, but the champion was scheduled to meet Tom Fool at weight-for-age in the mile Sysonby in late September.  His fall program also was to include the Pimlico Special and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  A bruised foot suffered during the running of the American Derby forced Native Dancer to pass up his opportunities to meet Tom Fool and other top older horses, the result being that the Sysonby and Pimlico Special were little more than gallops for Tom Fool..."

"...The trouble, when it came, was not unsoundness, but a stone bruise;  Native Dancer's underpinning had stood up wonderfully under the strain and stress of racing, and this mishap that was to deprive the public of the long-anticipated meeting with Greentree's Tom Fool was purely acccidental..."

One of the great disappointments of my father's life, besides my academic record, was that Tom Fool (his favorite horse) never faced off with Native Dancer.  This wasn't an example of cowardice, or an example of tracks writing races so that either ND or TF wouldn't face each either while increasing their stud value.  It merely was in the fates.  Native Dancer was injured, and the matchup never took place.


Also, could you post the PPs for some of the best female sprinters of our generation such as Safely Kept, Soviet Problem, Track Gal, Missy's Mirage, Meafara, Xtra Heat etc, and who do you think is the best of them all?

Here are the past performances you requested.  I'd like to hear who you think was best of these fillies and mares.

Download SprintGals.pdf


Hi Dan,
Enjoy the blog.  Wondering if you had any recollections of Black Ruby, the famed mule who just retired.  Does the DRF keep PPs on her?
Keep up the great work.

She might be the most famous mule racer of all time.  Here are her past performances as well as some DRF stories:

Download BlackRuby.pdf




Anyone know what the deal with Fabulous Strike is?  I don't see him on the disabled list, but it's been awhile since I got a work notice on him.

I'll have to add him to the Disabled List (pardon me for being so far behind).  He ripped off a piece of the frog on the bottom of his front left foot while training for the Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga. 


can you tell me where to find the story that the mitch freidman horse pp's are posted  for. the question asking the pp's and the followup indicate a "backstory"



Look for Monmouth to create a big purse turf race for Big Brown with all the conditions to his liking for 9/13 or 9/20 . Track owes him one for saving their meet by running in the Haskell. otherwise this has been the worst meet I have seen in the past 20 years, almost un-bettable...

So it was written...so it has come to pass:



Could you give us Sarafan's PP's?  It's not often a retired racehorse gets to be a TV star. That is, if they ever show that episode on "The Cleaner".

Download Sarafan.pdf


Once again, I'm sorry for the sporadic postings.  Saratoga alone is usually difficult to get through, but I have some other projects in the fire as well.

Tomorrow, we'll look at the Travers Day stakes races as well as some other questions and comments.




Nice picks and analysis from our posters.  We had Magical Fantasies, Wassermans, Grand Couteriers, and plenty of other excellent winners.  Congrats, and hope everyone scored out.