02/19/2010 5:27PM

Bring on the Preps!


Let's take a quick look at some of Saturday's stakes races:

No strong opinions on the Gulfstream races so let's move on to New Orleans.

Risen Star Stakes - Fair Grounds - Race 10:
The Lecomte, the first leg of the 3-year-old series at the Fair Grounds, featured a fast pace that aided late-running winner RON THE GREEK and third-finisher LETSGETITONMON.  In the Risen Star, the pace may not be as hot and that could help front-runners like DISCREETLY MINE and TEMPTED TO TAPIT. 
Of the two, I prefer the former.  Making his first start for Todd Pletcher in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes on January 9, Discreetly Mine was in the midst of a rail-skimming move when he was pinballed into the fence.  After finally regaining his composure over the sloppy going, the race was all but over, and jockey John Velazquez wisely covered his colt up for the final eighth of a mile.  Velazquez remains at Gulfstream to ride Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth, but Javier Castellano is a capable replacement, and Discreetly Mine should be tighter in his second start of the form cycle.  It remains to be seen how far he really wants to go, but he's bred to get this trip (a Mineshaft half-brother to Cigar Mile winner Discreet Cat), and should be forwardly-placed, if not right on the front end. 
Selection:  Discreetly Mine

Southwest Stakes - Oaklawn - Race 10:
It may be MISSION IMPAZIBLE for the Todd Pletcher-trained colt to win the Southwest from the far outside post position, but he seems like a reasonable gamble at a solid price.  An impressive maiden winner going 4 1/2 furlongs over the Keeneland polytrack, Mission Impazible then finished a green third going five furlongs in the Grade 3 Kentucky Juvenile.  Then, nothing.  Mission Impazible went AWOL for over eight months before returning over sloppy going in an entry-level allowance sprint at Gulfstream.  That afternoon, he pressed a moderate pace set by stablemate Three Day Rush, and it looked like Mission Impazible would go by that one at any point.  Only it didn't happen.  Mission Impazible didn't pass until the gallop-out, and the initial feeling was one of disappointment.  But after thinking it over, it's quite possible that Mission Impazible needed the race, and he should be sharper for this one.  In many respects, he's like Discreetly Mine.  Both Pletcher-trained colts earned blacktype at two, are stretching out for the second start of the year after sprinting in the slop, and both are question marks at the added distance.  Mission Impazible is a half-brother to the fleet sprinter Forest Camp, but another half-sibling, Spanish Empire, won at ten furlongs.  He'll have to hustle out of there under Eibar Coa, and will likely take up a stalking spot outside of probable pacesetter CONVEYANCE going into the first turn.
Selection:  Mission Impazible

El Camino Real Derby  - Golden Gate - Race 7:
This should be a real barn-burner over the Tapeta as middling Derby prospects battle it out for all-important graded earnings.  To be honest, I don't really love anyone, but I'll take one chance at a big price with Idaho-bred OUR MINESWEEPER.  A stakes-winner around two turns over this surface last year, Our Minesweeper may need to be ridden more aggressively.  In his last two races, he's been content to stalk the pace, and he hasn't finished with a lot of verve.  While it's doubtful that he can make the lead from California Derby winner RANGER HEARTLEY, he may be able to push that one through quicker fractions than the 49 4/5 we saw last time.  I'm not sure Our Minesweeper is good enough to win this as he's probably ill-suited to the additional distance, and a protracted battle with Ranger Heartley may not pay off, but he should be in the thick of things when they turn for home in a confusing race.
Selection:  Our Minesweeper

Oh, and give me some Ventana in the San Carlos at Santa Anita.

Back on Monday with the big recap, comments, questions, and pp requests.

Take care,



Heavy Juice More than 1 year ago
HG174 The bet is $50 ex 2-4/7
TejanoRun More than 1 year ago
Steve T., just a minor point, your google search is inaccurate on both counts. The Zenyatta search will of course include every hit - no pun intended - for the record album. Eight Belles searches for two independent words, so you'll need to use quotation marks to get the words adjacent. "Eight Belles" gets 75000 hits.
TejanoRun More than 1 year ago
4th at Philadelphia today - $12.5 Mdn Clm. I'm taking a shot with the #1 No Equipment. A first-timer out of Smarty Jones, but what I really like is that dam Cyclorama's previous (and only) runner was Turtle Creek Babe. TCB broke her maiden at Del Mar beating Stardom Bound.
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
Geeze, now you got me started... Google Zenyatta; there are 361,000 results. Now Google Eight Belles; there are 657,000 results. In essence there is twice the interest in Eight Belles as there is for an undefeated super mare. How much media coverage has there been about Zenyatta and Rachel? Now how about Ernie Paragallo and Michael Gill? Instead of the story of two of the greatest females in history, we get to watch the sight of emaciated, sick horses being loaded up under law enforcement supervision or breaking down in Pennsylvania on the evening news. When the inevitable referendum on the sport shows up on state ballots, what does Jane and Joe Average remember about our sport? They see a sport that has negative connotations, and since we can't get our message across, they see no positives like Z and Rachel. There is another angle we have not exploited, technology. If it wasn't for online betting, we would be just about gone. Yet the online services are the most backwards software applications I have ever seen. Go to TwinSpires and try to find out what the track conditions are - why they are under "Scratches" of course... It takes 13 separate steps to buy a PP on DRF, and then you get to pay 6X as much as you do for the paper version which has to be printed, distributed, 40% goes to the sellers, returns have to be credited... And remember our age group are not exactly technical wunderkind. We can't even handle something as straightforward as works - on one coast they are breezing, on the other they run handily. There are all sorts of reasons for works to be inaccurate - some from the early morning chaos and others from less honest angles. If as Tinky mentioned we microchipped the horses we would have incredibly accurate works and could easily identify who worked in company. Have you ever tried to get close to a wager terminal on a busy day? Even at a large track like Santa Anita they have far too few machines. Now let's see, we have to pay mutuel clerks, and the other is a machine, which way to go... Then there is one of my favorites, race replays. The tracks in their total idiocy have decided that this is a source of revenue and most charge for replays. Does that make ANY sense at all? We are experts at erecting barriers to our own success. If you were a billionaire, which would appeal to you more - buying a horse track or owning TwinSpires? You would think that a property as valuable as an online wagering outlet would do everything they could to enhance their value, but judging by their crude software, that is not the case. Do the horsemen and tracks get it on Internet wagering? Judging by Arizona and Minnesota, the answer is no. They see them as a threat to the established order. I have been a regular critic of DRF and their technology strategy. They are slowly getting there, but you have to question the priority of the effort. How long did it take to create TicketMaker? What will its value be to DRF over say the next ten years? Seems like a pretty good return on investment to me. I love Sibling Summary, but I hate that it is not directly connected to Formulator. I have to go to another place to pull it up. Beyer speed figures obviously need some work and there needs to be a replacement for Tomlinsons. Microchipping would also give us exact times for each fraction for each horse. The fact is that it is a path forward for the sport that is grossly underutilized. OK, I'm through... For now.
Caseyjeaux More than 1 year ago
What can be done to increase the fan base for horse racing? The powers that be must get busy and capitalize on what shapes up to be one of the most contentious and exciting seasons of horse racing since Affirmed and Alydar or Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. We have very good horses in every division, with Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra currently at the pinnacle. Get these and all of the other names in front of the public. I'm not a marketing genius, but I do know that name recognition is a powerful asset. You had better get that or those names in front of the public and make sure that it stays there. What is holding horse racing back? When you stop and look with a critical eye, horse racing is boring. Especially at the track. Average Joe goes in with his newspaper picks, he buys a couple of tip sheets and a beer. Then he waits 20 minutes to rush up and make a bet on the 8-5 favorite and boxes the two favorites in an exacta. Now he gets action for about one or two minutes; only to have another 20 minutes to kill. All this for a chance to win $5 on his win or $7 on his exacta.
BigEasyBigChok More than 1 year ago
Whacky, IMO depending on the circumstances hedge bets make sense. FOr example, last sunday little chok was alive to 2 horses at SA in the late PK 4. One would pay 9k the other 22k and it was a 7 horse field. I would have made a 200.00 win bet on all 5 remaining horses but you could certainly make a case for adjusting that number based on the odds of the horses you do not have to close out the pk4. Just my thoughts. BEBC
BigEasyBigChok More than 1 year ago
Van Savant, Thanks for the shout out. I love this game. IN the NHC contest I had selected front runners in the turf races and all of them looked like winners at big ballons with 50 yds left to race and all folded like cheap tents. So of course in the last race of the day on turf I selected the 13 horse who of course loses to the front runner, 14. Did have the exacta for my pocket but it was a tough day. Congrats on your showing in that contest. BEBC
OTP More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, The HPWS was definitely a learning experience in time management and organization. I had a great time and met several interesting people. The last day I was there the trash can caught fire at the Race Book, but it was put out very quickly. I only saw the smoke. As far as totals go, I'm not positive but I think I finished 239th. They took down the sheets, saying there were some kind of errors. I don't know what that means, but 239 is the last that I saw. I hope to go next year and take my wife. I got a HPWS shirt, and she won a cap, a TBD racing guide, and some kind of ticket stub from TVG. She thinks she's salty. We'll see. That's all I'm saying, because you know that "what happens in Vegas..." Going to sleep now. Goodnight
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
CG, If you would like to see what is wrong with our sport in a nutshell, spend one day at the dog track and then a day at the horse track. You will see that the demographics are hugely different - the dog track is full of early twentysomethings and the horse track is full of old codgers like us. Unfortunately there is a long history of the thoroughbred types trying to squash dog racing, thinking that it is siphoning off dollars that would come to them - when the fact is that when the dog track goes, the dollars disappear. Dog tracks served a very necessary role as the "minor leagues" for horse racing. It was there or at the OTB's that many of these youngsters were exposed to horse racing. After seeing the horse races playing on the monitors they start becoming more intrigued and dip their toes into the horse pool. While we are on the subject of marketing horse racing, there is an indisputable fact - there is no marketing in horse racing. The only national advertising the industry has done was the "Go Baby Go" commercials, and they were not only strange but over in a hurry. Santa Anita could care less what Belmont does, and Belmont ignores what Gulfstream does... We have a unique opportunity with the Zenyatta/Rachel showdown, but we can't seem to figure out how to use that to our advantage. If I was king I would be handing out high quality Zenyatta t-shirts and ball caps in her colors at every West coast track and Rachel stuff at every Eastern track. Let them start showing up in malls and restaurants and get people asking "who is Zenyatta?" I think beyond the younger generation we have royally blown it with a huge demographic - women. Look at our blog, we are probably 70-30 male to female, which pretty accurately represents who is at the track. That is a mongo change from when I was a lad. The women I remember in the 60's were more about the show and the event than the horses. The women today are pretty damn savvy about the sport. Do we seek to increase their numbers? Nope. In an industry dominated by watery eyed old white guys, we still view the industry like it was 1979 (sorry Prince). Without the addition of new blood we will continue to downsize as the old codgers die off. The last real generation of horse fanatics were born in the 50's and 60's and we will see the industry ride the baby boomer generation until it is gone. The baby boomers are a huge bubble in the horseplayer population, and we will all start dying off in increasing numbers. In 15 years there will be a mass exodus of us as we start to croak off without anyone to replace us. We have to have a central authority to make any marketing efforts effective, as well as the creation and enforcement of uniform rules and policies. We have to reduce the number of variables in horse racing - we can't have one set of rules for New York and another for California. And we do - for everything from medications to detention barns to claiming rules to track surfaces. As Ben Franklin said "We must hang together, gentlemen... else, we shall most assuredly hang separately."
p ensign More than 1 year ago
wanted to add just one thing to my late night post, it's not proper hedging if there's ANY WAY you can still lose money on the final leg!