07/29/2008 1:19PM

Dark Day 1: 7/29/08


Here's an amalgamation of the daily recaps from Week One. If you'd like to copy it into your own spreadsheet for further work or analysis, you can access it by clicking here.

I'd like to extend a shout-out of thanks to commenter Dan MacKenzie, who has caught several typos in these daily recaps. I appear to be in need of stronger reading glasses, but I defy even an eagle-eyed youngster to tell a 3 from an 8 on Saratoga's infield results board where they post the fractions and prices.

--Now that I've watched the replays of Monday's last four races that combined for my pick-4 score, I'm not offering to give the money back but am reminded that sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Let's go through the sequence:

Race 7: Since I used four mains and four backups in here, it's obviously not as if I was in love with Donna's Sandee ($21.60) and I'm just glad I made her a main instead of a backup since I would have zigzagged out of it had I gone the other way.

As one commenter noted, a caveman ticket of all my used horses would have been only $384 vs. the $320 I invested on a three-ticket main/backup play. I would only point out that it's not really that small a difference because I had the AAAA ticket for $2 rather than $1. It's been my long-term experience that it's better to press your best opinion a little bit -- you're supposed to get paid optimally when you're right. But yes, it would have been more than a little annoying to miss out with a CAAC result.

Race 8: A few of you have asked what there was to like about Over Forli ($41.60). As often is the case at least with me, you come up with 19-1 shots more because of your dislike or distrust of the favorites than because you love the particular horse. I thought the three perfectly logical horses were Windy (3-2), Silver Knockers (4-1) and Debbie Got Even (9-1) -- they were simply better than the others with recent, established form -- but all three are undependable types so I was looking for a stranger. Since being purchased out of Chile last year by Barry Schwartz, Over Forli had run only on synthetics and turf, though her best races had been on dirt in Chile. And with all due repect to Schwartz's California trainer, Eduardo Inda, he's no Mike Hushion, who scores frequently with horses the first time after they've been turned over to him. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see Over Forli trail at every call, but in a race where I didn't trust anyone to run to par, she seemed worth a flyer. I might well have made her a backup, but since I liked the other three equally and didn't want to split them, it was just easier to go four deep on all tickets.

Race 9: Here's where I really got lucky, since I used only Kodiak Kowboy and Fidelio (who fell on his head at the start), leaving out 7-5 favorite Desert Key, who I thought was untested against quality horses and eligible to wilt if challenged early. After watching the race, it's clear to me that this was a bad opinion I was fortunate to survive: Desert Key was best. He withstood a blistering early challenge from Eaton's Gift (21.79/44.19), won that battle and drew clear, and it took perfect-trip Kodiak Kowboy the entire length of the stretch to get by him, and just barely. So I only narrowly, and perhaps unjustly, ducked telling a hard-luck tale of using 9-1, 19-1 and 15-1 winners and missing a 7-5 favorite.

Race 10: I'm not going to pat myself on the back for going six deep in a field of seven and including the winner of a painfully slow race where backup Royal Skip ($33.60) outstaggered six fellow off-the-turfers in a leaden 1:57.07 for nine furlongs. I'm just glad I picked up my four backups since one of my mains was pulled up and the other was arguably best, cutting out strong fractions before eventually surrendering during the endless stretch run.

The horrific outcome I ducked was a victory by 24-1 Milliondollar Moon, the only runner I didn't have covered, and this is why one shouldn't be driving through Ulster County while (unknowingly) alive for a score in the last leg of a multirace wager. Had I been following along, I absolutely would have made a $200 or $300 win saver on Milliondollar Moon at 24-1 to guarantee myself a $5k return for the whole mess. Instead, I left myself exposed to get absolutely nothing in a situation where that single hedge was a no-brainer.