11/05/2010 11:47AM

Breeders' Cup Friday Live Blog

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12:35 pm: And they're off...on opening day at Aqueduct, that is. First post at Churchill Downs isn't until 2 p.m. ET, with the first of six Cup races on BC Friday, the Marathon, carded for 4:10 pm. The last is the Ladies' Classic under the lights at 7:30 pm.

If you haven't heard it elsewhere, there are two big early scratches: Rightly So, the morning-line favorite for the BC F&M Sprint is a vet scratch today, and Crown of Thorns, who might have been favored in the BC Dirt Mile tomorrow, has been declared out of the race with a flare-up of an old knee injury. Rightly So's scratch was apparently too late to allow an also-eligible into the race, so it will go with a field of 13.

Rightly So's absence is going to lower a lot of prices in the F&M Sprint, some of which were already unrealistically high on the morning line. I was trying to beat Rightly So and had sugarplum notions of getting the ML prices of 15-1 on Sara Louise or Evening Jewel and 20-1 on Switch, but now I wouldn't be surprised to see all three at 12-1 or lower.

The Marathon begins an all-Cup pick-6 with a $750k guarantee. (Last year's BC Friday pick-6 handled $1,403,616.) There's also a $750k guaranteed late pick-4 on races 7-10 (the F&M Sprint, Juvenile Fillies, F&M Turf and Ladies' Classic, today's four G1 Cup races. (Last year's handle was $1,371,372.)

I'll be putting in a $5,000 pick-6 play and Capital OTB will buy a duplicate set of tickets on behalf ot its customers. They'll do the same tomorrow only if today's play hits, but either way I'll be shovelling in another $5k play tomorrow. I'll post both plays about 30 minutes before the sequences start so you can root along with (or against) them.

I'll also be tracking today's commingled betting handle in comparison to the first two full BC Fridays at Santa Anita in 2008 and 2009. It won't be entirely apples-to-apples: The races are in slightly different order, and this year it's a 10-race card with six BC races and four others; last year was only a nine-race card with six BC races and three others, while the 2008 version was a 10-race card with five BC races and five others. The grand-total targets are $48.4 million in 2009 and $47.8 million in 2008.

 

1:30 pm: My current version of the BC Friday pick-6 needs a lot more whittling: it's still at seven tickets totalling $16,800 including a $13,824 all-A's-and-B's, well over the $5k budget.  

I'll keep the handle-comparison table below at the bottom of today's long single post so that those of you who aren't handle-stat geeks don't have to keep scrolling past it.

 

1:55 pm: Sparing no expense to answer your questions -- like the one below about whether NYRA Rewards is accepting online 50-cent minimum BC wagers on the tri, pick-3 and pick-4), I just bought the following 50-cent ticket, so apparently they are:

 

3:43 pm: Okay, here goes. Managed to bring it in at $4,990:

 

 It's pretty much a conventional A-B-C play with a couple of variations.

Ticket #1 is all-A's and B's in legs 1 through 4, trying to get some prices to get alive to Midday/Life at Ten & Blind Luck.

Tickets #2-7 are straight 5-A's-with-one-C backups, i.e. Ticket #2 is leg-1 backups with legs 2-6 A's; Ticket #3 is leg 2 C's with A's in legs 1,3,4,5,6 etc.

Tickets #8-11 are two-B tickets through Red Desire, my only B in leg 5.

Ticket #12 was a way to spend the remaining $136 -- a just-in-case I can get whittled-down A's in the first five legs, an "all" in the finale.

That cost $126, bringing me up to $4,990. 

At least I can't be dead after one leg: Field of 12 in the Marathon, and I've got 4 A's, 4 B's and 4 C's.

No big surprise: The two Euros in the Marathon, Bright Horizon and Precision Break, were 10-1 and 15-1 on the ML but with 12 MTP are 5-1 and 8-1.

 

4:20 pm: Oops. Sorry, Capital OTBers. I've never been an Eldaafer fan but congrats to him for winning the inscrutable-to-me BC Marathon. Down to one live all-A ticket (#2) with singles of Winter Memories and Midday. 1x3x2x1x2 is plenty of coverage for five Breeders' Cup races, right?

Fight ! Fight! It's taking four guys including his brother to restrain Calvin Borel from fulfilling homicidal urges against Javier Castellano, the rider of Prince Will I Am. Castellano steered his mount into the path of Romp and Martin Garcia. Romp was taken up sharply -- Garcia was airborne and somehow hung on by the reins -- and Borel and A. U. Miner on their outside were also impeded.

Prince Will I Am was disqualified and placed behind Romp, moving A. U. Miner up to third and Giant Oak up to fourth for an official 4-6-12-8 order of finish.

Eldaafer finished 7th, beaten 24 1/4 lengths, in last year's Marathon over Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old A. P. Indy-Habibti gelding was claimed for $20,000 from Shadwell Farm out of a N2L claiming race at Aqueduct in January, 2009. 

 

4:40 pm: Betting was down 11 percent from last year in the first two races on the card, two allowance races vs. two allowance races. Race-by-race comparisons get sticky after that because last year the BC races were 3-8 on a nine-race card while this year they're races 5-10 on a 10-race card.

 

5:05 pm: Two races, two foul claims. More Than Real won by daylight but Winter Memories got squeezed between the winner on the outside and the tiring Fancy Point to her inside, but the stewards correctly concluded the winner did nothing wrong and left the result alone.

Two races, two virtual no-shows by the Europeans, though in all fairness these races hardly contained their best hopes.

Betting starting to pick up. The Marathon slightly outhandled last year's edition ($5.07 million vs. $4.99 million.)

 

5:45 pm: Dubai Majesty won a G1 race in her seventh try, showing her fondness for the dirt at Churchill Downs (now 4 for 7) with a clear victory over turnbacks Switch and Evening Jewel in the BC F&M Sprint. The 5-year-old Essence of Dubai mare -- who, like Eldaafer, once raced for a $25k tag in N2L company -- looks like the leading contender for champion  female sprinter unless someone has a better idea.

Kudos to ESPN for apologizing for showing some footage of what appeared to be a remarkably calm and smiling Borel in the jockeys' room in the wake of the post-Marathon fisticuffs. As the announcers just said, that was pre-recorded stock footage, not a live shot. The hostilities reportedly continued back in the room.

They just turned on the lights at Churchill. Three Cup races down, three to go.

 

6:10 pm: The guy at Capital OTB said they felt obliged to spend that final $10 I had left over and bought five $2 quick-picks. They can't be doing much worse than mine.  

The first all-Cup pick-3 of Eldaafer ($23.20), More Than Real ($29.20) and Dubai Majesty ($19.20) returned $3,055.20 for $2. One bomb and we might have a pick-6 carryover into tomorrow.

 

6:30 pm: Awesome Feather, unbeaten in five starts at Calder, stamped herself the nation's champion 2-year-old filly after wearing down R Heat Lightning to win the Juvenile Fillies. Stalking from third behind surprising early leaders Theysken's Theory and R Heat Lightning, Awesome Feather looked like she was going to blow the race open with a decisive move in upper stretch, but R Heat Lightning fought back for a while before succumbing late. 

Awesome Feather, a daughter of the obscure Florida stallion Awesome of Course (by Awesome  Again), ended up going off a slight favorite, paying $10.40.

 

7:05 pm: Got three texts within a minute of Shared Account's 46-1 victory in the F&M Turf:

Horseplayer #1: I'm giving up the game.

Horseplayer # 2: I just got rich!

Horseplayer #3: I loved the #5 but missed everything.

I guess you could say that Shared Account was an overlay off her close finish to Proviso in the Diana, and maybe you could throw out her Flower Bowl because of the boggy course, but still: A career record of 2 for 9 on the grass, and 0-for-4 in Grade 1's.

In any case, it's hard to make a case an Eclipse Award case for her over Proviso, who already has four Grade 1's this year and won their only meeting. And if Goldikova wins the Mile for a third straight year, there will be support for her as well.

I can't buy into this emerging idea that the European grass horses are being hampered by a too-firm turf course today. They just ran the F&M Turf in 2:17.74, almost five full seconds off the course record, and over three seconds slower than when Ouija Board won the race at CD in 2006.

 

7:20 pm: Carryover! $817,642 in the kitty to start tomorrow's sequence: Turf Sprint, Juvenile, Mile, Dirt Mile, Turf, Classic. Piece of cake.

 

7:40 pm: Unrivaled Belle comfortably held off Blind Luck to win the Ladies' Classic, but the ugly story of the race is why second choice Life at Ten was permitted to run.

Good for Randy Moss on ESPN, who said right after the race that "There was lot of money bet on Life at Ten. The betting public has a right to be pretty doggone upset."

Life at Ten -- who was distanced after half a mile -- was in obvious distress before the race, as clearly documented by Moss and Jerry Bailey. Rider John Velazquez told the commentators that there was something wrong with her, and trainer Todd Pletcher said shortly after the race that he thought she was either suffering from cramps or had had an allergic reaction.

Bailey said after the race that it was the responsibility of the attending veterinarian at the starting gate to have discussed the filly's condition with the rider.

As for the race, Unrivaled Belle -- second to Life at Ten in two of her last three starts -- was returning to the scene of her upset of Rachel Alexandra at Churchill April 30, the day before Blind Luck won the Kentucky Oaks. The race did nothing to change the certainty that Zenyatta will win the Eclipse Award as the champion older filly regardless of her Classic performance. Blind Luck's runner-up finish with rival Havre de Grace third, earned her a 3-year-old filly championship she may already have clinched.

But between the jockey fracas and the Life at Ten incident, this was not exactly a pretty day for the sport.

 

8:45 pm: Betting for the day made a late surge to end up higher than last year's BC Friday at Santa Anita. The commingled total on the Cup races was $43.4 million, a 7.87 percent gain over last year's $40.2 million, and for the entire card was $51.0 million vs. $48.4 million, a 5.42 percent gain. 

 

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