09/24/2008 3:37PM

Autumn Leaves


3:30 pm: The equinox was a few days ago, but autumn really begins today for racing with the opening of Oak Tree, the resumption of racing at Belmont for the second half of the fall championship meeting, and the start of a 30-day countdown to Breeders' Cup Friday.

OSA's opening is of even more than usual interest, since today's card is the first over the new Pro-Ride surface on which 8 of the 14 Breeders' Cup races will be run Oct. 24th and 25th. Everyone is of course curious about how the track will play and what kind of horses take to it, but the surface is probably a moving target, likely to be tinkered with many times during the 22 days of racing before the big days.

On the theory that the best way to learn about a new track is to gamble on it, and purely as a public service, I'm going to play the early part of the meet sporadically, starting with today's late pick-4. The sequence includes the G3 Morvich Handicap, where the winner gets a WAYI berth in the new BC Turf Sprint.

As for Belmont, the co-featured Floral Park Stakes and Heybabaloulou [sic -- the filly it's supposed to be honoring was actually named Hey Baba Lulu] Stakes are roughly 1,000-1 to produce a BC runner, but since there's no mandatory pick-6 payout on changes of season, there was $55k from the last Sunday of summer seeding the pool. I was out at Belmont earlier to meet a friend for lunch and am feeling smart for having failed to pull the trigger on a modest play for a card that looked impossible and is proving that way so far. I might have used Ground Frost ($14.40) in the first leg but would have had trouble including Vladimira at $33.40 in leg 2. Things don't get a lot easier with two unwieldy madien races still to go, so there's a good chance we'll be looking at a double carry into Thursday.

Today's Belmont and OSA cards start a racing week that builds to Saturday, when the two tracks combine to present 11 Grade 1 races, quite possibly a record for a single day of American racing.

Okay, half an hour to the beginning of the Pro-Ride era. Top-fig Costa Marta's 6-5 with a 15-point Beyer edge on the five who have run, and Baffert firster Mark Up Tiny's 3-1. Back in a bit.

(Off topic: Classic rendition of "Autumn Leaves" here. Update: And here. And here.)

4:45 pm: Safe to say there's a $185k double-carry tomorrow at Belmont after Quasicobra ($28.00) and Gold record ($23.60) won the third and fourth legs. The rain that's supposed to hit New York and possibly drench Saturdy's Gold Cup card is currently predicted not to hit until late Thursday afternoon.

The Pro-Ride era began logically enough when Costa Marta ($3.40) took the Oak Tree opener. The 2-year-old Cal-bred maiden filly sat just off fractions of 22.27 and 45.34, was clear after six furlongs in 1:10.09 and broke the beam in 1:16.59 for 6 1/2 furlongs. In the second, for open 3-year-old $16k claimers, wide sweepers dominated the finish with 8-1 Benchmark Kid getting up in 1:22.91 for seven furlongs from well behind early fractions of 23.02 and 45.83. A double-dq of the first two finishers, however, made an official winner of third-place Lardog ($29.20).

The entries are out for Saturday's 11-race Oak Tree card. The Grade 1 lineup:

Race 4: G1 Clement Hirsch -- field of 7 including Red Giant, Spring House
Race 5: G1 Lady's Secret -- field of 5 including Zenyatta, Hystericalady
Race 6: G1 Ancient Title -- field of 8 including Idiot Proof, In Summation, Street Boss
Race 8: G1 Oak Leaf -- field of 12 including Stardom Bound
Race 9: G1 Yellow Ribbon -- field of 10 including Wait a While, Black Mamba, Vacare
Race 10: G1 Goodwood -- Field of 11 including Spirit One, Surf Cat, Tiago, Well Armed

6:15 pm: It's official: The two-day carry at Belmont tomorrow is $185,987. Even with a pair of $7.70 winners closing out the card, 5 of 6 was worth $10,869. The Thursday sequence is messy:

Race 4: 2F MdSpWt, 7f-T -- Field of 11 (6 firsters)
Race 5: 3+F Clm35kN2L, 6f-T -- Field of 12 + 4 AE's
Race 6: 3+ Clm22500B, 6f -- Field of 11
Race 7: 3+NYB AlwN2x/OC25k, 1m -- Field of 11
Race 8: 3+F AlwN3x/OC75k, 1m -- Field of 6
Race 9: 2F MdClm75k, 1m-T -- Field of 11 (4 firsters) + 1 MTO

Michael Griffiths More than 1 year ago
I find it strange that the tracks sells S/Fecta for 10c but sells Hi-Five for a $1. can't they see they are killing the Hi-Five. The S/Fecta and Hi-Five can become $500,000 handle like the Pick-4.
EJXD2 More than 1 year ago
callmetony: Formulator allows you to view a horse's come home time.
Rick More than 1 year ago
bochalls, fair enough...but I tend to believe my eyes and ears more than what's printed in black and white. I would argue that most horseplayers should trade their forms and tipsheets for a good set of binoculars and a Race Replays subscription. Getting to know which horseman are the honest, intelligent fellows goes hand in hand with my beliefs....
Ray Manley More than 1 year ago
What are the chances of scrapping the entire Saturday card at Belmont and moving it to next Wednesday?
callmetony More than 1 year ago
Steve kudos goes to DRF for the new additions to the form . Finally we can know the beyer par and if the race is a superfecta and the morning line odds . Greatly appreciated . Now if we can just get come home times in turf races it would complete ...
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Rick...your comments regarding 'BACKSTRETCH BUZZ' got my attention. James Quinn wrote long ago that horse players and horsemen should never associate. I agree..problem with horsemen is they don't know who is going to win the race. All they know is how their horse is doing (they only handicap one horse,for the most part...theirs!) I sat in the middle of a group of trainers at Fair Grounds for years and all the tips and live horses they talked of wouldn't buy you a cup of coffee. Yes, there is some credibility to backstretch buzz, but i have found the really live ones get WAY overbet (and usually lose). It has been a wise choice for me over the years to largely ignore ANY tip given from a backsider....small tracks are a different story though, as folks are living hand to mouth, and a big score is often more than the winners share of the purse.
JT More than 1 year ago
Steve.....check out Stanley Jordan's version of Autumn Leaves. Amazing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQZY87PDsnQ&feature=related
Hammer More than 1 year ago
Steve, I loved the three versions of Autumn Leaves. I share your love of jazz and horses.
chisox More than 1 year ago
Mike, New York runs over 2,000 races/yr so every now and then we will see odd races such as that very slow paced race. And Steve C, a fixed race at a NYRA track WOULD be a shock!. These are not bush tracks where the purses are miniscule and it would be relatively easy to pay off the jockeys. If anyone doubts the races are on the up and up and still wagers on them......they are fools.
Walt More than 1 year ago
Tom: I think the forecast for Saturday is bad enough that you might see the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Flower Bowl postponed to Sunday and the Kelso, Pilgrim and Miss Grillo in turn postponed to next Wednesday (10/1). We are expecting 3-5" of rain as of Thursday morning.