02/05/2009 3:14PM

The Case of the Putative Putover


Lemmings1 Thursday's 5th race at Aqueduct. an otherwise forgettable $10k claimer for N2L older fillies, would have been called one the biggest betting coups ever to rock New York racing -- if only the object of the putative putover hadn't run a bad fifth at 2-1.

Call An Audible was 20-1 on the morning line, understandable given that she had run fourth beaten 8 lengths in her lone start, three months ago at Charles Town, and was facing winners today. On one hand, she didn't belong in the race: Why would a Charles Town maiden be entered for a $19k purse against winners in New York instead of trying maidens again at Charles Town with $28k up for grabs? The most plausible answer, at least to cynical horseplayers, was that Call An Audible was at the Big A only because the betting pools are so much higher in New York and someone could cash a big bet without knocking her down to 3-5.

Call an Audible's lone start didn't scream larceny but she was not ridden hard after falling 17 lengths back early, and she closed the gap to 8 without any particular encouragement. Her trainer, Renee Schlesinger, had not started a horse in New York in over six years but clearly is sharp, winning with 85 of 394 starters (22 percent) over the last five years (almost all at CT) and showing strong Formulator stats with second-time starters.

In the last five minutes of betting, Call An Audible went from 6-1 to 5-1 to 4-1 to 3-1, ending up at 2.45-1 at closing. She stumbled slightly and was away next-to-last, and the race chart says she "raced in traffic" around the turn, but she did no real running in a slow and mediocre race and checked in 5th beaten 8 3/4 lengths. If she has secret talent as yet unseen on a racetrack, it remains a secret.

I suspect the race is destined to remain an unsolved mystery. Did inside schemers really bet tens of thousands into the race -- Call An Audible took roughly $40k of the $161k WPS pool, and an additional $230k was bet on exactas and tris on the race -- or did they take a modest shot while hundreds or thousands of lemming horseplayers followed them over the parimutuel cliff?