08/13/2009 1:50PM

Day 14: 8/13/09


1:50 pm: I'm having one of those unwelcome Saratoga days when work and meetings are putting the squeeze on the personal horseplaying, and I'm 8-5 against getting involved in the $52k one-day carryover. I seem to like the same two or three obvious horses that everyone else does in most races, and there are a couple of pitfalls in the sequence, such as seven first-timers in the nine-horse third leg, a juvenile-filly turf sprint.

A crucial decision for anyone contemplating involvement is what to do in the 8th race with Turn Away, one of the few obvious potential singles on a contentious card. Turn Away has made six career starts, winning a maiden and two allowance races and losing three stakes while running very well in two of them, including a close third to Porte Bonheur and Spritely last time out in the G2 First Flight.

Some will look at today's race as an easy spot for a stakes filly to win her N3x condition and move on to bigger and better things, and thus will stand alone with her. Others will view her as a sucker horse, more renowned for her connections and graded-stakes appearances than for her actual ability: She has absolutely no edge on the field time- or figure-wise. Choragus and Tar Hell Mom each have run three races that earned Beyers in the low 90's while Turn Away has yet to exceed her career-debut of 87 almost two years ago.

So what to do? Single Turn Away? Make her and A and Choragus and Tar Heel Mom B's? Use all three of them in equal strength? Or play against Turn Away for value and in the hopes of knocking out those who lean on her? We've got about 75 minutes to decide.


3:55 pm: Best bet of the day was probably taking the 8-to-5 that I'd play. And parlay that onto 1-to-5 that I'd be out early with a half-hearted $384 investment, which I am after omitting Linda Rice reclaim Willsboro Point in leg 2. This is what happens when you defy The Queen. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

Or I could blame Mike Watchmaker. DRF's National Handicapper is up here working for a couple of days and his priciest pick on "Talking Horses" this morning was 12-1 ML Aly's Wheat in that race. I preferred three other horses and was down to Willsboro Point or Aly's Wheat as my fourth horse and decided I couldn't leave out Aly's Wheat since I was going to be sitting next to the guy in the pressbox all day. Just to be sociable, I offered him one percent of my play for $3.84, and after I told him I'd used Aly's Wheat he went for two percent and $7.68. If it's all A's the rest of the way (1,8/6/4,8/2,9,10) I'm going to ask him for the 68 cents he didn't give me. (Props where due: Aly's Wheat outran his odds, running third beaten just a length at 13.20-1.)

As for The Turn Away Dilemma, I ended up making her an A, Choragus a B, and Tar Heel Mom a C. For pick-4 purposes, I'm using the option that was just too expensive for pick-6 purposes -- taking all three in equal strength.


5:40 pm: Played Court Jester to The Queen yet again. Call me Eeyore. Didn't think Mother Russia could go a mile and a sixteenth in the so-called feature, the New York Stallion Stakes. I was so sure of it that in addition to using the two logical alternatives, I even used one of the two maidens in the race against her in the pick-4 I was alive in -- the one who came flying late to miss by a neck as Mother Russia made Linda Rice the leading trainer at Saratoga by a 9-8 tally over Todd Pletcher.

Eight of the 10 in the turf-sprint finale are covered in the pick-6, ranging from $20,489 on favored Hanginonaprayer to $201,202 on Red Hot Baby and Wheels Up. Only Seasons Wise and My Anna Rose are uncovered. 

7:00 pm: Why it sometimes pays to be pleasant: I'm walking out of the track and a couple waves and the guy calls out to me, "Hey Steve! What did you think of Mother Russia today?"

I could have said, "You mean that overbet sprinter who walked around the track and beat a maiden by a neck to cost me $5k in the late pick-4?" Instead, I said, "Well, I didn't like her, but I hope you did."

"Of course we did," he said. "We own her!"

Toones More than 1 year ago
I have to share my own bad beat story, as a result of my own mistake-not involving the actual horse race (i have a hundred of those). One Saturday, I was losing about $1,500 and it was time for the 5th race at Santa Anita. A horse trained by Frankel was runnning in a 1 1/16 turf race that I knew pretty well. I had seen his last couples of races and believed this horse was a really really strong play. So, I basically went all in on this horse. I bet $1,500 to win and I had the horse in two $250 doubles. The final odds were 8-5 and the horse won easily, going away by four lengths. I went to cash the win ticket and I got that dreaded message, "This ticket is not a winner" Sure enough, the OTB had divided Santa Anita into day betting (races 1-5) and evening betting (races 1-6). I did not know this, and simply picked Santa Anita and played the current race. This turned out to be Santa Anita evening betting which was race 6, the next race. Well, I missed out on $1,500 win bet on a 8-5 horse and $250 daily double that paid $21.00. A total $5,025.00 win that I should have had, except for some messed up system, no other track I knew of was ever divided like this.
Raps7 More than 1 year ago
Nathan, I think we have all been there at one time, sorry but wish you good luck today. My horror story was I though I was alive in the Pick4 one day to a single, until I saw all payoffs were 3 out 4. I had looked online at the entries and the horse I keyed I had mixed up the post position and the horse number.
Andy Scoggin More than 1 year ago
jcp, lindariceracing.com Only winners circle pictures, though! LOL
Chris Garrity More than 1 year ago
Steve, despite how wonderful spending time at Saratoga is, grinding out the blog every day has got to be a chore, at least sometimes. I just want to let you know that it's an absolute joy to read; it gives workaday slobs like me a chance to live vicariously, to dream of doing what we'd all like to do if we had the time. Good stuff, man, and I hope that as a cosmic reward, you hit a big Pick 6 during the meet to compensate you for bringing to the vast unwashed masses the thrills and spills of being at Saratoga, and playing seriously every day.
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
Nathan; There are many, many pearls of wisdom contained within this blog today, including Mr. Crist's. Don Reed's is perhaps the best, but these points bear repeating: 1.) Don't saw saw-dust. Let the past bury its' dead; and 2.) Remain disciplined in your approach. You are apparently good at your craft. Success will follow you, and that salve wil heal this wound.
callmetony More than 1 year ago
steve That gave me a good laugh .... Very quick thinking on your part ... As Always . HA
George Quinn More than 1 year ago
I am a horseplayer but I do love the tradition. But at this years Derby I called the wrong number in about 500 dollars worth of tickets at Churchill. So with 10 minutes to post, just when I should be in my (lucky to have 3rd level seat). I am at the now uncrowded window changing all my wrong numbers for more wrong numbers. I am sweating thinking they will be off and I will not get everything changed. So no horror story here with losing out on a windfall$$$. Just lost out on the 10 minutes before the Derby and the post parade and my old Kentucky Home. Other than the race itself, the best few minutes at the track the whole week. We all have these stories do we not? George in Tampa
blyndskwurl More than 1 year ago
Callmetony, I did the same thing last year on Arlington Million day, catching the exacta in the first leg and then playing the pick 3 not realizing there was a pick four until after the fact. I was very pleased to have caught the pick 3, but that pick 4 was so much nicer. I feel ya. I should keep a ledger I know, because then I could quote the payoffs I can't recall. What gets me down is leaving a voucher in a machine and trying to hunt it down only to hear from security that somebody cashed it already. That kind of forgetfulness is easy to beat oneself up over...
jcp More than 1 year ago
R9-- Thanks again, Linda!!! Plus, she was looking good in her all black outfit and shades...
mike v More than 1 year ago
Steve: I am finding NYRA a little fan unfriendly. I send an email with a few suggestions for their website and I do not even get an acknowledgement of my email. Most places where you drop money would at least acknowledge your correspondence. Not NYRA. Will you now make any Linda Rice turf enty at least an automatic "C" in your pick 6's and pick 4's?