11/06/2009 2:36PM

BC Friday '09 Live


1:35 pm(ET): Happy Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Mostly Filly Championship Friday, or whatever we're calling it this year. Forty minutes until first post at Oak Tree, two hours until the first BC race.

Fast and firm and only five scratches so far on the card: Exuma and Singer Island in the 1st, Toro Bonito in the 2nd, and the two also-eligibles -- Dad's Crazy and In the Slips --in the 4th, the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf.

There are three pick-4's on today's card, on races 1-4, 5-8 and 6-9, and the all-BC pick-6 is on races 3-8. I'm planning to get involved in the pick-6, spreading early and narrowing late. If I can get a price or two home in the two 2-year-old filly races, I'll try to crawl home with a chalky 2x2x3 conclusion (Forever Together and Midday/Ventura and Informed Decision/Music Note, Careless Jewel, Rainbow View.)

I'm not thrilled with the pick-4 menu, since the early and late ones run through non-BC races; I would have preferred one pick-4 on the first four BC races (3-6) as well as the last four (5-8), but the BC didn't want to jeopardize the $500,000 guaranteed pick-6 handle by starting a pick-4 on the same race. The guarantee ought to be safe, since last year's BC Friday pick-6 handled $1,008,267 and concluded with a non-BC race.

We'll be looking at handle trends today and tomorrow but comparisons will be tricky because of the ever-shifting lineups. Last year, Friday's card had 10 races including five BC events; this year it's nine races, six of them BC's. Last year's 11-race Saturday card had nine BC races; this year's it's 10 races Saturday, eight of them BC's.

It looks like the public has figured out the proper favorite in the new Jockey Bet . With $27,945 in the pool as of 1:20 pm ET, the mutuel field has been bet from 8-1 ML to 9-5. Garrett Gomez is the current second choice at 9-2. If you're playing the bet, don't forget that it closes at post time for the Marathon.

2:30 pm: Is it an omen that the first race of BC Friday just went to a British horse switching from grass to synth? Deal Breaker ($13.40), a turf-sprinter overseas who was making his third U.S. start, slipped through at the inside in upper stretch and drew off for Mitchell/Bejarano in 1:42.47 off fractions of 23.72, 46.81, 1:11.25 and 1:36.05.

3:10 pm: The track is definitely quick. Miss McCall ($11.80) just wired the 2nd in 1:15.28 after setting fractions of 22.06, 44.76 and 1:08.75. A second-place finish by 87-1 Merrily, with the two favorites out of the frame, set up a $131,654 for $2 superfecta payoff.

They're already six minutres behind schedule. Post time for the Marathon is now 3:41 pm ET, back from 3:35. Time to make the pick-6 tickets. Mastery is currently the 7-5 favorite.

3:45 pm: Argggh. Picked and needed Cloudy's Knight at 7-1,but got nailed on the wire by Man of Iron, the half-brother to Rags to Riches and Jazil I tossed from my pick-6 play:


Back to the drawing-up-tickets board for the next pick-4.

The early pick-4 probables are paying well considering the first three winners were 5-1, 9-2 and 6-1. The $2 payoffs range from $3397 on favored Lillie Langtry to $24,675 on Elusive City.

4:05 pm: Here are the final odds for the Jockey Bet, which attracted a pool of $117,559:

4:25 pm: The grass is very quick too: Tapitsfly and Rose Catherine ran 2-1 all the way around in the Juvenile Fillies Turf with a mile in 1:34.25. (last year Maram won the race in 1:35.15.) It was an all-American finish with the two favored Europeans,3-2 Lillie Langtry and 6-1 Junia Pepzia, spinning their wheels and ending up 8th and 12th. The early pick-4 came back $6901 for $2.

5:05 pm: She Be Wild ($16.80) won the day's first "championship" race with any actual championship implications, winning the Juvenile Fillies to nailing down the 2-year-old filly Eclipse with a record of 4 for 5 and just a half-length defeat in the Alcibiades. I used the winner as a "B", leaving me alive 2x2x6 in the 5-8 pick-4:


5:30 pm: After Midday's victory in the F&M Turf, who's our champion turf female of 2009? Midday off a single American appearance? Magical Fantasy off her three Grade 1 victories before tanking here? Diamondrella or Dar Re Mi if they win against males tomorrow?

Midday ($6.60) and Forever Together were both 2-1 on the board but Forever Together was the actual favorite by about a $12k margin.

Midday's winning time of 1:59.14 was more than two full seconds faster than Forever Together's 2:01.58 a year ago.

5:45 pm: I couldn't agree more with the commenters complaining about the unconventional camera angles being used by ESPN. It's an insult to the core audience, the equivalent of showing a World Series game from a Gyro-Cam in left field, and the idea that it's going to create new fans is preposterous. Why not show the race live with the pan shot every regular fan wants, and save the artsy angles for replays?

6:15 pm: No question about the Eclipse for champion female sprinter: Informed Decision's second victory of the year over Ventura made her 2009 record 6-for-7 including three Grade 1's, her lone loss coming on a sloppy track she didn't handle in the Ballerina.

Safe to say that the turf is quicker but the Pro-Ride slower than a year ago. Last year Ventura won the F&M Sprint in 1:19.90, this year she fell just short in 1:21.66.

With 5 of today's 6 Cup races in the books, favorites are 0 for 5 and returning Cup-race winners (Muhannak, Maram, Ventura) are 0 for 3.

6:25 pm: The $2 pick-4 payoffs are healthy, ranging from $1167 on Music Note and $1222 on Music Note up to $5311 on Mushka and $10,734 on Lethal Heat.

No pick-6 carryover: Everyone's covered. It looks like there will be somewhere between one (Lethal Heat) and eight (Music Note) winning tickets, paying from $97k to $779k. If those will-pays are correct, there was a healthy jump in this year's BC Friday pick-6 handle, perhaps attributable to its being an all-BC sequence this year instead of ending with the Las Palmas as it did a year ago.

7:00 pm: Life Is Sweet's dominant Ladies' Classic victory both got her out of barnmate Zenyatta's shadow and locked up another older-filly Eclipse for Zenyatta: Even if she runs poorly in the Classic tomorrow, she beat Life Is Sweet three times this year.

The camera choices on the LC were particularly annoying. Going into the first turn, someone thought it would be fun to show the field as it appeared over the heads of spectators who took up the majority of the screen, reducing the horses to dots, then we went in for a long closeup of Robert Landry on Careless Jewel. When they finally pulled back from that shot, Careless Jewel was half a dozen lengths in front, apparently having spurted clear of the field. Yes, some of the new shots are interesting and the HD picture is gorgeous, but it's just impossible to sense the flow of these races when they're presented in a radically different way from every other day of the year.

The third-place finish of favored Music Note and last-place finish by second choice Careless Jewel completed a day of dismal performances by dirt horses. Earlier, horses who made their final pre-Cup start on dirt ran 7th and 8th in the Marathon, 9th and 11th in the Juvenile Fillies and 4th and 8th in the F&M Sprint.

The $4267 for $2 pick-four (BAAB) got me out for the day despite going 0-for-6 on top picks and 3-for-6 in the Pick-6 that returned $155k to five winners. I feel fortunate to have survived Day 1 with no bankroll damage and will be sending it back in and then some tomorrow, including a $6,000 pick-6 play that will get put in twice: I'll buy one on behalf of myself, and New York's six OTB companies will buy a duplicate of my tickets on behalf of 30 customers chosen at random who will share in any proceeds. 

11:30 pm: With one more Cup race but one fewer race overall, handle for the Friday BC card was up 1.2 % over last year, from $47.8 million to $48.4 million. The rearrangement of races, and especially ending multirace sequences with the Ladies' Classic instead of a non-Cup race, led to dramatic gains in the combined pick-4 and pick-6 handle, which was $1.4 million higher than a year ago. Here are the year-over-year comparisons:

The slight gain is somewhat heartening news in a year when almost every major race meeting has suffered sharp declines, but it doesn't really address the question of whether the Cup works better as a two-day, 14-race event than it did at one day and eight races.

Saturday handle has declined dramatically since the event was spread out over two days, from $136 million at Churchill Downs in 2006 to $102 million at Oak Tree last year. Looking only at intrarace handle, betting on 4 of the 5 Cup races for fillies declined from last year, and betting on the three filly races that were moved to Friday a year ago remain down drastically from when those events were run on Saturdays: In 2006 at Churchill Downs, Saturday intrarace betting on the Juvenile Fillies, F&M Turf and Ladies' Classic totalled $30.9 million. Today those same bets totalled only $16.9 million.

mark More than 1 year ago
Mr Crist, Rachael defeated Mine That Bird, and Summer Bird, Zenyatta defeated Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. Of the older males, Rachael defeated "Macho Again", Zenyatta defeated, Gio Ponti, Rip Van Winkle, Take Over and Einstein. Zenyatta had ended her career with 14 starts and 14 wins including a win in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic and the Breeders' Cup Classic. What horse in history has ammassed such a resume? And you will vote against her AGAIN! Your bias against her is embarrassing.
chisox More than 1 year ago
Anyone who wants to actually see the races should go to the live feed from calracing.com. I was able to catch a few of them from that feed and there was only one camera angle change, although I did not expect any. ESPN really is a joke.
Derby Man More than 1 year ago
Moving the Marathon to the Friday card will end up being brilliant. It is really the one race where we are all newbies here in North America. Nothing like tearing up your 2nd biggest ticket of the day after the first 3 minutes of the Cup on Saturday to start things up. This way we're all fresh and are still alive in the early Pick-4 on Day II to get handle rolling. In hindsight though, we all have this race down now, Go Euro on the Synthetic going the distance. Until next year when we have to develop a new strategy. Overall, I still love the 2 day event. Imagine if it was already over?
dan c More than 1 year ago
Steve I feel the same way I survived with a $2 pick2 for the $4200 and got all my money back and then some I blew betting freakin churchill out of boredom and losing up until then. I have come to the conclusion for Sat I am not using any dirt horses in any bets. Poly specialist at the least the TOP poly specialist just dont get beat on championship poly day by dirt horses. The turf and poly specialists just dont lose to dirt horses. I love you Life is Sweet!!! And I must thank Jeff Siegal from HRTV for putting me on Life is Sweet and the SA form and how she loves this track and the fast pace helped her a ton. I will fire Sat with a huge bankroll now of $7000. I am debating the pick 6 now. I just think Mastercraftsman is a cinch and I back into the ticket from there. GOOD LUCK everyone.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
As for the camera angles on the BC telecast on ESPN, I actually like those angles. Are they traditional? No, however, I can more easily make out where everyone is watching those than on the traditional pan shot, although the pan shot is fine for day-to-day racing as it would be too expensive to have normally (and also, as I believe was proven years ago, more casual fans LIKE the angles used on TV coverage). Also, you have to remember you deal with a lot of tv critics that don't follow racing other than the big events, and they have been highly critical in the past when ESPN and other networks have used the traditional pan shot. I have always loved having the additional angles on ESPN. Those are angles that actually do help. As for the BC handle, PERHAPS having the Pick-Six be all BC races did help, but I think BC Ltd. is missing a golden opportunity to go after lottery players by not having nine BC races on Saturday like last year and instituting a "Breeders' Cup Pick Nine for a Dime" for a nine-BC Race Saturday portion of the Breeders' Cup. As noted before, having a 10-cent pick nine on nine Saturday BC races with a $5 million guaranteed pool is a way to bring in those who normally play the lottery looking for the big score into the Breeders Cup, especially if the prospect of being able to win $5 million on a 10-cent wager. That is why I would ditch the guaranteed pick-six (but still have one as a $1 wager both days) and go with a 10-cent pick-nine on Saturday only. Also, if next year's BC is at night as I think it very well could, all handle figures could be obliterated, especially if Asia and Australia are commingled into the American pools.
pollo More than 1 year ago
I frankly like the camera work, gorgeous in HD. Does any track in America compare to the beauty of Santa Anita-I think not. Before you write-off Zenyatta, compare her late pace ratings to every horse she faces tomorrow. A 7-length late pace advantage to the next horse will be tough to beat if they go fast early.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
I am surprised ESPN did not have a logo of Lebron James on the Starting gate....Hey can anyone explain Careless Jewel? That was awful.
bobm toga More than 1 year ago
had $5 box with she be wild and biofuel and got killed by the crazy bump in midstretch.. i gotta figure the exacta was paying 400 +.. not happy with that..
Tim Husted More than 1 year ago
Steve, At this point, can McPeek take Landry off Bridgetown off of the worst performance by a jockey in Breeders Cup History? I'm totally playing away from Bridgetown if Landry gets on top, that was a totally amature ride today. He KILLED the horse for NO REASON.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
MLNJ: If ESPN ("BSPN!") allowed NJAW's customers to watch their own feed, that would shrink their Neilsen ratings from 0.0002345% to 0.0001999% of the viewing audience. Can't have that, now can we? I didn't get put out by the camera angles. Didn't even get that far. It's impossible to watch ESPN racing, period... ...Mr. Shirreffs, well done. You trounced my Mushka fair & square. Jockey Hero of The Day: Goes to Thomas Queally, the winner on Midday. It is a godsend to see new faces in the winner's circle. Jockey Goat of The Day: Despite winning two races, Julien Leparoux's ride on Forever Together was atrocious. Give him the Day One "YEOW!" award. Trainer Goat of The Day: Saeed bin Suroor. His backers were catapulted back into Day One of the 1929 Great Depression (& through no fault of his own, having to cover his uncoupled entries in Races 7 & 8 doubled the losses). Hopefully, he'll rebound tomorrow. Bettor Goat of The Day: This writer, for reasons too embarrassing to list [Leparoux; Suroor]. Hopefully, King Ledley, tomorrow, will right the ship...