05/21/2009 7:40PM

Back to Belmont


It's been the annual rhythm of my life for 30 years now: Get through the winter, get through the Derby and Preakness, then finally get to dive into Belmont Park -- not just the Belmont Stakes, but the 13 weeks of racing that comprise the spring-summer meet. It used to be a quick catchup after the Preakness, with only a missed opening week, but Belmont opened on April (!) 29th this year and is already in the midst of its fourth week of racing. So while the rest of you are sunbathing and barbecueing or whatever it is that civilians do on so-called holiday weekends, I'll finally be getting through the charts and replays of the first quarter of the meeting, with the goal of having my Belmont bearings by Monday's Met Mile.

Here's the graded-stakes rundown so far; I hope to post a chart of other notable races at the meet so far in the next few days.

---Unbridled's Heart, the $1 million Unbridled's Song colt who won his debut 53 weeks ago by 10 lengths at 13-1, lost today for the fourth straight time since then, and for the fourth straight time as an odds-on favorite.

After the winning debut, Unbridled's Heart was third at 4-5 in the Postponed Stakes last June 13; second in a Saratoga N1x at 4-5 July 26th; and second again in a Gulfstream N1x at 9-10 March 4. Today's defeat, in a Belmont N1x, came at odds of 1-5, when he ran third in a five-horse field, beaten 6 1/4 lengths.

There must be a horse somewhere who has lost straight races at less than even-money, but I wonder if there's ever been a horse who lost four of his first five starts that way.


--A few final observations on the Preakness Day betting (pool-by-pool breakdown at the end of the previous post):

*The 19 percent jump in overall Preakness card betting was entirely attributable to the $14 million increased betting on the Preakness itself, primarily a $9 million increase in win-place-show betting on the race. Stripping out the Preakness from the rest of the day, WPS betting was down 6 percent year over year; intrarace betting (exactas, tris, supers) was down 3 percent; multirace betting (doubles, pick-3's and pick-4's) was up 10 percent.

That multirace jump doesn't even include the dramatic surge on the late pick-4 ending with the Preakness: That pool jumped 42 percent, from $1.39 million to $1.99 million. The day's other pick-4, on races 5-8, jumped 37 percent from $339k to $466k.

*The only bet type that suffered a year-over-year decline in Preakness betting was the superfecta, which handled only $5.6 million versus $6.4 million last year. Did bettors find it a more appealing bet with a 1-5 shot on top?

The decline wasn't due to the introduction of a Super High Five on the Preakness. Despite repeated reminders on the public-address system about the bet, it handled only $271,354, less than 1/20th of the diminshed superfecta pool. In the last race of the day, the super handled $111k last year; the bet was cancelled in favor of a Super High Five this year, and it attracted only $66k.


--Belmont yesterday announced the graded-stakes menu and timetable for Belmont Stakes Day:

Both the pick-4 on races 8-11 and the pick-6 on races 6-11 will be guaranteed $1 million pools.

Gnarbles More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Have you noticed that the Live Odds tool shuts down at midnight eastern time while there are still a few races left at Emerald Downs and Hollywood. I find the live odds useful (exacta probables)and would appreciate it if they could stay live for another hour or so for the twilight west coast cards. I sent a note to DRF customer service two weeks ago but didn't get any reply. I enjoy your work and the great services DRF provides.
Curious More than 1 year ago
Let's see, two people griping about the Belmont Stakes timing. Both Pimlico and Churchill started earlier and ended at similar times. Thus, I'm curious. Do you think Belmont should start earlier or did you also complain about those other two tracks? As for the cheaper races at Belmont. I hear you. Racing is not what it once was. I am searching the entries and am once again curious, what are the tracks that are running this superior racing that Belmont is not? I know, NYRA sucks, but do the others get a free pass for sucking just as badly?
bochalls More than 1 year ago
The main issue for me regarding Racinos is this: the horses obviously need the slots to survive in some states. But what will we do when the operators of the slots realize that they don't need the horses?
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Steve - Don't worry. NYRA's immune to suggestions (most successful vaccination program EVER).
Keith Longey More than 1 year ago
Steven: Without Rachel Alexandra, the Belmont field doesn't look to have a true 1&1/2 mile speed horse, with the possible exception of Zito's Miner's Escape. Charitable Man? Could be. However, we were all hearing about how Pioneer of the Nile and Musket Man and Papa Clem were two slow to win the classic distance: and Charitable Man with his 98 BSF out of the Peter Pan? Who will set the table for the late kickers to have their feast? Could this be the making of another Da'Tara type winner we might see?
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Beerbelly, you are the man! Turf rail positions are of great importance to me as i attempt (hardyhar) to make turf figs. I use final fractions (3fr) in routes and the final TWO fractions in sprints. That is, the time from the 1st 1/4m to the finish (bout :46 secs in 6f races). Works pretty well for me at 5f, 5.5f and 6f, but gets dicey at 6.5f or 7f...Steve, your favorite was running at Bel: Youbethecan, or is YoubetTHEcan!?
Plod Boy JJ More than 1 year ago
"...I wonder if there's ever been a horse who lost four of his first five starts that way." What prices did the great Green Monkey offer during his career?
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
greg: You can get race charts right here at drf.com by clicking on the "Results" tab at the top of this page, and then clicking "PDF Charts" from that menu. Or here's a direct link: http://www.drf.com/drfPDFCharts.do repo_man: Clever idea but PLEASE don't give NYRA any ideas about running a nine-turf-sprint card. don_reed: By "civilians," all I meant was non-horseplayers -- people who don't know the joys of spending a holiday weekend betting horses.
Tom D. More than 1 year ago
What do you think about Gomez going back to California? Big fish in a small pond? Enjoy winning 5 horse races? Family reasons? Or is it too hard competing against the strongest jockey colony? He was first call on Clementes' horses who look strong for the summer turf series.
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Steve, When I read your post Thursday night your use of rhythm in the opening line somehow flashed me back to Saratoga 1990, and Rhythm's Travers win. After thinking of Craig Perret fanning him out and mowing down the front runners in the stretch I hit the net to watch and read a little. First hit I got was your NY Times article on the race. It was the last year before the Racing Times debuted I believe. Almost two decades now. Time flies. Since outstanding fillies have been quite the topic of conversation lately, Rhythm was out of Dance Number. Even in the Phipps band they didn't come much sweeter than that. I'm loathe to admit that I haven't been out to Belmont since it reopened. Although I plan to remedy that this weekend, and wouldn't miss the Met Mile unless I lacked a pulse, there seem to be more things that get in the way of a day at the track than twenty years ago. Then again, twenty years ago I would never snooze through the NYRA recap show like I did tonight. I just thumbed Saturday's Form for the third time, and still can't believe that on a 10 race card there are only 2 NYSB races. That, a couple of juicy Maiden Specials and a nice Stake are enough to put some jump in my step. Everyone enjoy a great racing weekend!